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BEER INDUSTRY PERSONNEL: What Men Did Next




It looks like I'm going to have to talk again. I've given it 5 days to make sure I want to publish this. 

I wrote the post, I got it out of my system, it went a touch astronomical and, most importantly, I was thanked again and again for writing it. I was thanked by people who had experienced similar issues, by people who had comparable stories to tell but hadn't shared them and by people to whom it mattered most as a subject; the people for whom it was a real issue that isn't spoken about enough. A real issue; one that needs to be discussed more and more if it is ever going to be seen as one. 

Because as predictable as it was, there were a few that grumbled at me. There were a few who were downright offensive. They don't see it as an issue. There was one individual who started spouting genuine nonsense on Twitter and you could feel his inner turmoil coming through the tweets. I could feel him struggling to come to terms with the idea that what happened to my partner isn't acceptable and finding any way to get his point across without looking like a sexist. 

So we arrive at three days after the event from that post and my return to Manchester Beer and Cider Festival. I was returning as planned because I thought the festival was excellent. The festival and its organisers and volunteers had nothing to do with the incident from the previous post. It was a shame it had happened in Manchester Central and darkened their event.  Despite what follows, I still think the festival was very well organised overall.

On the Saturday I was to sit in the audience of the Great Manchester Beer Debate; a Question Time-esque panel discussion chaired by Peter Alexander, with panellists Matthew Curtis, Roger Protz, Richard Burhouse and Alex Brodie.

I spoke to Matthew before the debate and he'd already pointed out one glaring factor of the upcoming debate; another purely male beer panel discussion. I should have known. 

We were invited to ask the panel any questions about beer in general which Peter would determine whether worthy to put to the panel. I had only really gone to sit in and listen but whilst sat there I thought it would be interesting, given the events of the week, to ask the panel what they thought about the existing sexism in beer. 

….


What sexism in beer?

You see there are some things people are willing to discuss. You know, really important world issues about key keg, cask prices and SIBA. There are some things that are panel discussion worthy. 

And then there are complete non-subjects that waste everybody's time. Things like sexism. Things like the issues raised in my last post. And I'm angry. I'm fucking furious. And they couldn't understand why I was so angry. So for their benefit I'll tell you. I'll tell you the response. 

I asked about sexism in beer to be put to the panel but it was cut across. It was cut across, not by one of the five people involved in the discussion, but by one of the organisers of the festival stood in the audience who seemed to take my Wily Fox comment as a personal insult. "We check all our beer but one slipped under the net." Okay - so you don't check all the beers then -  but that isn’t what I’m asking. What do the panel make of sexism in beer culture as a whole, like I asked? Nope. This guy who wasn't part of the debate - and then the debate chairman - decided this wasn't worthy of discussion. It was never put to the panel. 

It was never put to the panel. 

Two male organisers of the festival decided that the four male panellists didn't need to discuss sexism in beer.  

Two male organisers of the festival decided that the four male panellists didn't need to discuss sexism in beer. 

I sat and seethed, trying to calm down but I'd gone. I'd gone. 

Some other man had even shouted whilst I was asking my question "what's this got to with cask beer?" 

Obviously nothing because it isn't an issue anyway. 

Two male organisers of the festival decided that the four male panellists didn't need to discuss sexism in beer. 

So tweet me your misunderstandings. Tell me my anger is misdirected. Write your blog posts about me being a terrible person - one of you has done it before. Tell me I should be asking Wily Fox and Timothy Taylor's, rather than a panel of beer experts. But I'm telling everyone else right now that I went to a debate about beer where two male organisers decided that sexism wasn't worth discussing.

If you want to concentrate on Wily Fox, let's look at the excuse that one beer "slipped under the net." They were one of only two breweries promoting their wares on trade day. And when they assuredly did see the pump clip laid out on their table they didn't pack them up and tell them to fuck off. They didn't stop selling their beer on the festival bar. So this was never dealt with. It certainly did slip under the net. 

But it isn't about that. It's about me asking for the subject to be discussed and being told by two male organisers of the festival that it wasn't worth discussing. 

It must be pointed out that panellist Matthew Curtis was the only one to grab a microphone and tell me to continue fighting and calling out such bullshit. And he told me this amongst the ongoing discussion as to whether I was worth listening to. I can't thank him enough. 

Perhaps the panel would have had little to say in such an environment other than "It's a real problem and we need to tackle it." Perhaps there would have been no real insight. But by dismissing it altogether they have demonstrated an ugly side to the industry that I shouldn't be calling out twice in a week.

Since my last post led to me being called a coward and told I should deal with such things at a time, I did tell the organiser that cut through a panel debate a "fucking prick" to his face. All that did was confirm to me that it doesn't pay to confront people immediately. It should not have been dealt with at the time. Because I knew I was angry - I was physically shaking with anger. But I don't want to shout insults into people's faces like that without the discussion. I don't even know the person in question so possibily owe an apology. I don't know if I still hold that view of him -  I'll find out in the next few days - but such heated reaction is one of many reasons to wait to respond. 

That and the many genuine reasons given in this thread on Twitter from Hali (@craftqueer) that uses experience and logic to squash anybody's belief that things should be “dealt with at the time.”


I'm not here to be the martyr or voice of such happenings. I'm not even one of the victims for God's sake. Yet I will play my part in calling out the absolute ignorant bullshit that exists within the world - and my part in that is to stop it within an industry that I love. One of the most ridiculous responses I had in the past few days was that if I really cared this issue I should be "going on marches and protests." Well words are a strong form of protest and more people have listened to me in the past week than ever would if I was in the sizeable crowds at the Women's Marches at the weekend.   


I've been advised not to write this for fear that they'll be another attempt to bully me out of the beer community again. That would be the easier option always. Saying nothing is always easier. I could have sat and listened to a beer debate on Saturday and never raised my hand. I could have kept quiet when it was decided it wasn't worth discussing. Saying nothing protects myself from an issue that I have the privilege of not directly suffering from. As Hali says so perfectly in that thread; "It's much easier to say nothing. Or just glare. Or pretend it never happened. Because existing without privilege is exhausting." 

I've thought about this long enough to know that I had to post these words. People are going to have different views to me - hence, the need for debate - but any actual insults I get are just revealing the true nature of people and true nature of the problem. I have nothing to fear from such attitudes. 

Tell me I'm wrong. Write your comments. Write your posts. I don't care. If anything said isn't an apology to those that want change in the beer community as a whole then you remain a huge part of the problem. Flat defiance. Flat denial. Flat sexism. Tell me again that it isn't an issue. Call me a keyboard warrior again. I wasn't behind a keyboard when I asked a panel of male beer people about sexism in beer. Where will you be sat when you tell me that I'm wrong again? And again. And again. And again. And again

I'm not interested in any response trying to debate whether the debate should have happened. I'm not debating with anybody whether I should be debating the debate about the debate. I'll only be interested in the actual debate I was trying to raise. If you have any vile, detrital comments then save them for the next all male social. You are the privileged - it's about time you considered those that live without. 




Note 1: In reference to my previous post, the offender in question has apologised in what my partner has called a "very genuine" manner. Though I have many opinions on the way the apology was delivered, as I was not the victim, that matter is now between the two of them and the two companies involved and will not be discussed on this blog any further (unless it needs to be for similar reasons, which I will never stop calling out.) It is being dealt with as my partner sees appropriate. 

Note 2: I have not been in touch directly with Wily Fox Brewery but know people that have. The current situation seems to be that the offending pump clip is unlikely to change.

Note 3: I have been asked to write an article about sexism in beer so I’ll put my focus into that. Hopefully this blog can get back to more positive discussion in beer but that’s probably a utopian thought.  

Comments

Unknown said…
Thanks for writing this!
Unknown said…
Great piece. As Matt says, calling this bullshit out is totally necessary. Keep on and don't let the relics and bigots shout you down!

Pedro.
Lizard Seer said…
Sexism is problem in society in general, not just in the beer world. The Beer World (unfortunately) is a "boys club" and casual sexism, such as dodgy names and pumpclips, is allowed through without demur as the people in question don't see the problem. You can pretty much write off the generation that grew up in the 60s/70s/80s as they're products of a much more openly sexist age. The best you can hope for is to shame them into not behaving badly in public (this is probably what happened to you at MBCF - people with sexist views considering a Beer Festival a "safe" place to say what they like and do as they please).

You can educate the younger generation of men not to do this by reasoning, but the problem with them is they grew in a time where porn (which demands women are treated as objects) is all too easily accessed by young minds incapable of dealing with it critically. Alas, again all you can really hope for is they don't express sexist views or behaviour in public.

So, no, I don't hold out a great deal of hope for the XY-chromosoned section of humanity changing any time soon, but I wish you every success in your attempts.
HopZine Rob said…
This type of bullshit is why I can't stand the majority of the CAMRA army. Bullish ignorant old twats. I tried my best with them and their are some lovely folk but the prevailing attitude is like a 1970s sitcom.

You've always got my support fella
Unknown said…
I would happily stand with you on this, and have spoken about it previously with women in the trade. Melissa Cole had a time of calling out brewers a few years ago over their usage of openly sexist or misogynistic clips or names. I have openly told Slater's that I will never stock any of their beers whilst they have Top Totty labelled as they do. I try hard to make sure the beers on my bar stand with my beliefs being not too political (difficult sometimes), nor sexist. At the end of the day, the uproar if there was a beer which was racially prejudiced would be huge!
Good luck in your continued fight... have you considered going to the Pub17 show in London? There is a seminar with Q&A involving Tim Page from CAMRA and Bridget from BBPA. It may be interesting to raise the topic with them.
Chris Stairmand
MEC Camra Chair
Owner of The Wharf, Macclesfield
Unknown said…
Excellent pair of posts. Couple of years ago I called out a brewery on Twitter for their sexist pumpclips and received a sustained and coordinated attack for about a week from the brewery's fans. Among other crimes, I was apparently a sexist for trying to fight women's battles for them. It wasn't a problem because some women didn't find it offensive. And of course I should have realised it was all a bit if fun. We just need to keep going with it. Most people are silently on the right side. It would be nice if a few more were more vocal.
Great work again & interestingly Peter was politely questioned about the gender make-up of the panel well before the festival, guess doing something about slipped under the net too... it's always great to have a new voice to this fight as mine and others have become the norm in condemning it all and fresh perspectives and anger about this are needed all the time. And trust me, people saying nasty things about you becomes a badge of honour after a while 😄
Unknown said…
Indeed, a great post that needed to be written. This bullshit needs to be called out. I'm delighted you got an apology and that it seemed genuine. It's fine that people make mistakes as long as they learn from them. It's what mistakes are there for and we've all made them. A couple of years ago In A Pub magazine awarded a pub 'loo of the year' for having women's mouths as urinals and a sink that required you to jam your crotch against a model of a woman bending over. I called the editor out over it and have yet to receive even an acknowledgement that it may have been offensive to women. That was the year that campus rape was on the rise & young men were having to be reminded what 'consensual' meant. Go figure.

A couple of years ago, a brewer posted a blog disparaging women (sorry, 'tarts' as he called them) for drinking pints (this actually happened) and I've happily never drunk one of his stupid beers again and never shall.

Sexist pump clips (grow the fuck up), leery comments (you'd be surprised who still makes them) and pretending that beer is still a boys club because you're too pathetic to cut it in the real world...it all needs calling out and not just by women. We do need to not be the lone voices in this debate as you'd be genuinely shocked by the abuse women get online. I've seen the comments female journalists receive and as well as being against the actual law, you'd be surprised how much repressed rage some men are walking around with and it's really not pretty.

We do get cross about this shit because it's 2017 and apart from UKIP & Trump, lots of things are improving and we're generally learning how to be better human beings.

So here's to continuing to be delighted when people act like grown ups and not like snickering playground bullies. Here's to being a thorn in the side of jerks, misogynists and your common & garden wanker. Most importantly, here's to helping create a beer community that's open and friendly to everyone.

Mine's a tankard of any beer apart from You Know Who's with any promo that doesn't have an outdated sexist stereotype on it (Oh look, that's practically all of them because most of the industry isn't an idiot) for my tiny lady hands...

Cheers.

Liz Vater
Unknown said…
Thank you for this. Maybe some of these beer experts don't realise the need to market their products to 51% of the population (and I don't mean on a pink beer clip!)
Martyn Cornell said…
You, Mr Lawrenson, can fuck right off, you ageist wanker. There are plenty of us who grew up in the 1960s who have been fighting sexism before you were born. Don't try to claim this as an age thing, because it isn't.
Unknown said…
Thank you, brave man. You rock.
Top post. Keep up the fight, I admire you.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

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