middle brow | citizen how

about 3-4 years ago. when middle brow was a mere toddler. which, by the way, lasted a good 2-3 years. there was a bit of a tiff in the local, 'til then unified craft beer scene. a brewery put some pretty sexist shit on their label. they denied there was any sexist intent, instead claiming that the label and beer name were part of an inside joke. and when they released the next batch, they changed the name and label to something sarcastic about smiles and sunshine and flowers and love. 

we threw our two scents into the online discussion. we were hesitant at first: after all, we were just toddlers. and we really liked these guys. (still do, it turns out.) but then we remembered that we started this company for two reasons: to make good beer, and to fight for the little guy. and before we were brewers, we were humans who spoke out against misogyny and sexism, both in public and online. we couldn't stop doing so because of the LLC next to our name; in fact, that LLC was all the more reason to say something. it (very weirdly) commands a certain level of respect and attention. ... even if our punches were still super small for now, we had to throw 'em.

oh. and a short heads-up: there's nothing very funny about this rant. at least that i can foresee. 

anyway. that was a turning point in our company. we were who we were. and we weren't gonna shy away from it to sell beer.

but whoa. enough about us. the point of this rant was not to talk about all the great shit that we men did in response to something that happened to women. that's, like, way too common. and constant. i think it's called centering the discussion on men. or something like that. but no matter the name of the behavior, pay attention to whether you do it. i bet you start catching yourself more and more. like, i was just starting a rant about how sexist the beer industry is, and almost immediately i started talking about how genuine the middle brow dudes are about fighting sexism. ... if this misogynistic shit's ever gonna end, we gotta be more careful when we're thinking about and discussing it.

so... the sad thing is: this fucking sexism still rages on in craft beer. sometimes it's outright explicit. like the dumb ass pink ipa that brewdog made for women. i ain't a woman. though we at middle brow are very quick to blanche at hyper masculine tendencies. because i fucking like my flowery scarf, ok? and no. it's not polly's. it's mine. i bought it six years before i met her. and i wear it with this coat because the colors seem to fit together. what the fuck is feminine about that? have you *ever even fucking seen* george washington? who's the dickhead dude who redefined masculinity as heavy metal and camo gear? seems like a wildly insecure chap to me.

oh. shit. the male- and middle brow-centered digressions are constant. ... but anyway. i ain't a woman. and i won't pretend to know how the pink ipa makes women feel. but it sure looks like a misogynist bunch of bull shit to me. how about instead of making your beer labels so fucking masculine all the time. and instead using broken glass and irreverent, "tough" fonts and other facade-y shit to make a liquid taste like a gender, you market all of your beers to all the people who might drink them. then you wouldn't need a pink ipa. 

and i don't know shit about brewdog. and i probably never will. because absolutely nothing about them is interesting to me. but i'd bet all of the profit middle brow has ever made (-$3,472) that this decision was made by, or at the strong suggestion of, a dude. the same dude who makes all of the other unappealing (but somehow successful) marketing decisions for brewdog. ("somehow successful?", you ask if you're a woman. "uh. have you even read any of this rant you're bangin' out this am? it clearly works because hyper masculinity is pervasive. it's everywhere. it's natural for men and women to gravitate to the familiar. and hyper masculinity is the familiar. a massive chunk of the beer market stands at the ready to gobble up anything that screams 'tough american male'".)

it all kinda reminds me of how awful the tech scene in the bay area can be. it's just dude after dude after dude making decisions. and most of these dudes are young as f. like, just out of college. still wearing socks and adidas slippers to work. suuuuper stoked about the pool table in their lounge. and all the free snacks they get after work. and the weekly capoeira classes in the courtyard. and hey. dude. can i just come in at 1p? i'm, y'know, sort of a late starter. promise i'll work like a maniac 'til 1a. 'cuz i'm giving my life completely over to this company. my apartment walls and fridge are as naked as i imagine many beautiful women to be. and my laundry doesn't need doing cuz i just by 365 pair of underwear every year. #efficient. ... anyways, these kid-bros are running companies without any real life experience. educated to the 9s. sure. but educated as humans? hardly. and so they surround themselves with other juvenile males. and make really thoughtless, dude-heavy product and marketing decisions. thereby perpetuating the massive male-female imbalance that's prevailed throughout history. 

anyway. back to beer. and pink ipas. ... that's just the explicit sexism. i haven't even started on rape-in-beer-labels. whoa! holy shit! breweries are still suggesting rape and sexual assault and hard core sexual harassment on their labels. now? today? still? i mean, after the #metoo movement? yes. they are. 

and ass-grabs at beer festivals. whiudkja cbk adbsdas? whaaaAa?????? yeah. it's a common thing. drunk dudes. drunk women. ... dude just watch me. see that babe with the gorgeous ass? i'm gonna go graze her. just a little back-of-the-hand graze. watch. she won't even see me.

which brings me to an important point: sexuality ain't the problem. whether a particular label is suggestive of rape, on the one hand, or not meant to be in the realm of rape at all, on the other. that can sometimes be a difficult question objectively to answer correctly: some dudes proudly wear their suggestions of rape and sexual assault! no kidding! others, though, deny any assaultive intent immediately. and back away quickly. 

but... it's very easy to answer whether a particular label objectifies women. many do. hands down. now, is the objectification of women in and of itself a bad thing? no! neither is the objectification of men. we're sexual creatures. we'll objectify the shit out of each other when we're given the chance. especially when drunk.  and to pretend like that's only a male thing is super fucking sexist, actually. women are sexual too. women wanna bang guys. women think guys are attractive. even ones with beer bellies. sometimes, only ones with beer bellies. it's evolution baby!

but re-read "in and of itself" above. ... it might seem unfair to you. but even if you're a perfectly fair human. who treats women precisely as they deserve to be treated. and you release a beer with a label objectifying women. you and your company will face much-deserved wrath. and accusations of misogyny.

there's already way too much sexism in this world. we shouldn't have to spend time figuring out whether your label is actually not sexist because you're super fair to women everywhere and merely a sexual creature. because you have a track record for objectifying men and women with equal frequency. and for appreciating women also for the artistic beauty they bring into the world. and the power they command on a tennis court. and the creativity they display in the laboratory. and because you have a track record for hiring as many women for important positions as you do men. and for not being a misogynist fuckface. and just because you have a mother and a sister and a daughter. that doesn't help your cause. it just makes you look weird. 

if your label suggests rape or assault or objectifies a woman. you really don't have a place in this business. and i wish you would to go back to drawing homebrew labels for your friends. and we'll do everything we can to make that happen.

ok. i gotta wrap it up. but there's something super sinister about the quiet sexism and harassment that are even more pervasive than any of the shit i mentioned above. there was an article floating around beer twitter a couple months back. wish i had a link for it. but you should search it out. i vaguely remember some of the content: that it's impossible for a female beer buyer to be taken seriously. a certified cicerone. who gets asked by beer salesmen day in and day out whether she could go and fetch the beverage director please. and who has to say "i'm the beverage director" to an incredulous beer-bellied bum. and all sorts of other sexist shit. wait: here it is.

dudes: do better. women: do better. it ain't hard. it ain't weak. it ain't gendered to consider women as equal human beings. capable of everything a man is capable of. and, y'know, it bears emphasizing that there's also no need to compensate for years of shitty behavior by treating women as angels. or as geniuses. or as special creatures. or as unmatched talents. as far as i can tell, women just want to be treated as human beings. sure: they're distinct from men in lots of ways. but they're human beings. remember that as you grab your next sicks pack from the shelf. 

even after women's month ends.