The development of North American commercial broadcasting and advertising shows vividly how capitalist and corporate economic forces assert their power. The corporate beer industry has been catered to men since the collapse of the prohibition and the use of alcohol as a taxable benefit of the government. The advertised dominant ideology of the early 1900s, before first wave feminism began to overturn obstacles of gender equality and idealized domesticity, and second wave feminism in the 1960s brought light to the issues of private and public sphere separation, was man as the breadwinner of the household and women as the domestic objects. So, in theory, when the art of brewing beer became no longer part of women’s domestic work and eventually industrialized, men (as they would be the purchasers) were the prime target for marketing. Still today, everywhere we look we can see man as the dominant image of beer drinking and crafting; for example, Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man in The World, Kokanee’s Mounty, Molson Canadian’s Lumberjack, and Budweiser’s race car athletes. The interesting part about how beer advertising has evolved, however, is that the only image that has changed within the advertising is the portrayal of women. Beer commercials and advertising still market to men as the sole purchasers of the product and women as the servants of male consumption. Only this time, there has been an exchange from domestic serving wife, to objectified sexual object. Now, when women have made so much headway in terms of economic independence, why is it so important to exclude women from purchasing a product so dynamic? Wouldn’t it be beneficial for the corporate beer producers to eliminate sexism from their advertising campaigns?
It’s not new knowledge that dominant ideological streams must be continually reproduced in the activities of our most basic social units, in this case, our social drinking. T he corporate and hegemonic beer industry, which is supported by our media based social methods for gaining and maintaining power, still promotes commercial and print advertising that persistently reinforces dominant sexist ideologies that condone and promote imagery of women as sexual objects. S ocial consent can be a more effective means of control than coercion or force. Although it is no secret that women’s sexuality has become the product for consumption, not the beer, is seems to be ‘okay’ within our society. In feminist theory, e nlightened sexism is said to be meant to make patriarchy pleasurable for women and what corporate beer advertisement has been giving us women are little more than fantasies of our own power. They assure girls and women, repeatedly, that women’s liberation is an accomplished fact and that we are stronger, more successful, more sexually in control, more fearless, and more held in awe than we actually are.
Corporate beer advertising is created in a way so that women are continually placed on the passive side of the gendered division of ‘looking’ and are displayed solely to appeal male sexuality. The simple act of ‘looking’ is not the only way in which power, access, and control is exerted by some men; there is power in subtlety, which we see most often in power that is exerted not only over women but also over people of color and people of lower socioeconomic standings. I noticed recently that in beer advertising, women of color are not only objectified sexually but also fall victim of being eroticized through exoticizing; but, due to the more sensitive nature of racism and classism, these topics are generally slipped in under the radar, in other words, it is not often seen through clear imagery. For example, in a Dos Equis advertisement with the ‘ Most Interesting Man in the World’, it quotes, “Approach women like you do wild animals, with caution and a soothing voice.” I would like to point out that there are no women present in the advertisement and to the average reader or consumer of the product, this advertisement might be decoded as simply amusing. However, the advertisement implies a conversation held between the white ‘Most Interesting Man in the World’ and the two men of color and regards their women as ‘wild’. The advertisement, to me, is a clear example of how North America creates and promotes the ‘othering’ of people of color and the objectification of women.
D espite the continual disclusion of a more realistic image of women in the art of beer crafting and knowledge, women who are passionate about beer have been breaking down the ‘pint glass ceiling’ by organizing and making their presence known within the craft beer movement and community. There are many different groups of women in the women and beer movement, including the Sisters of the Tap, who organize tastings and education seminars for others who are interested in becoming experts on the craft. These women may or may not identify themselves as feminists, but their movement definitely fits within feminist discourse, as feminism is an ever-changing way of seeing women, power, and the possibilities for positive change in the world. Overall, I would like to say: Dear Corporate Brewery: Women can drink beer with their shirts on and as long as you continue to use sexism, objectification, and discrimination as your sales tactics, I’ll be drinking local.