In a Facebook post from this morning, May 19th, 2021, my FB friend from British Columbia, Jake Clark, wrote the following and it SO got up under my saddle that I felt I had to write this TODAY and get all of what I’ve been thinking off my chest. Many thanks to Jake for her considerable efforts toward building and promoting the beer culture of our Canadian neighbors and for her characteristically no-nonsense statement here, as well as her permission to use it in The Pour Fool. I have never met Jake but I would consider it an honor to do so, someday, when the Canadians can trust us to visit again…
“I am a successful female in the craft beer industry who has worked very hard to achieve that success. I am white and straight and a veteran in the industry so have faced fewer hurdles than many of my peers. But I have never, not even once, attended an industry event or festival where I wasn’t subject to inappropriate comments, touching, or assault.
I have been belittled for being a women in beer, condescended to, mocked, gaslit, had male colleagues take credit for my work, had male colleagues blame me for their mistakes, had male colleagues use my appearance and body to achieve something they want, been told I should be “softer as a woman”, been told I am too aggressive/too ambitious, been touched, cornered, assaulted, and raped.
To my male colleagues: I know that 90% of you are wonderful and believe in diversity and inclusion and equality (I’ve seen it, I’ve experience it, and I know this to be true) so I am asking you to stand with the marginalized groups in our industry and vocally and actively help weed out the problematic behaviour so we can build a safer industry together.
Listen to us.
Believe us. Say something. Shut it down. Stop supporting it. Stand up for us. Be compassionate.”
“Believe us…” That is where it starts. Jake, a fundamentally intelligent, decent person has this stuff happen to her (and among those allegedly nice Canadian fellas. Go figure.) My old pal Ashley Routson was literally hounded out of a blossoming career as a commentator on beer and brewing – a career which included a successful book called “The Beer Wench’s Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer”, which I read and strongly recommend. And those are just two examples, close at hand. There have been literally hundreds.
I have spoken with an insupportable number of men in creative occupations like brewing and distilling and winemaking…and theater and fine arts and music and dance and woodcarving and bee-handling and all sorts of other realms in which you would think that sensitivity and inclusion would be Job One, who have sat and said, with straight faces, that they don’t really believe that women are really treated all that badly.
So, to follow that fatheaded reasoning, all these fellow humans who have outright horror stories of the near-daily indignities and discourtesies and flat-damned discrimination and abuse and literal predation by their male peers…are all lying about it? PMSing? Being “drama queens”? Not a word of truth to it or, at very least, far less than “these women” claim?
My first impulse, being a fossilized remnant of my former self, is to think – and increasingly, lately, to say – “Does your Mother know you say shit like that?…Your Mother…who quite likely, almost certainly, has her own life-long history of slights and condescension and minimalizations and verbal arrows to the heart – and maybe even hushed-up abuse – that she carries with her, locked away in a tiny closet in her soul, endured but never forgotten? Would you even think to say things like that to or about her?” That answer is a universal “No!“, when the offender bothers to answer at all. So, what’s the difference with those women you do hand that treatment? Do you feel, maybe…threatened?
Well, dumbass, ya don’t even know the half of it.
Respect for your fellow humans is not dependent on gender. Those who will mistreat the carbon-based life form next to them will do so regardless of the presence or absence of a penis. But abusers, being fundamentally incomplete and twisted personalities, will always, with rat-like cunning, seek out those they perceive as being most vulnerable, least capable of inflicting damage in return. The Weak will always target the More Weak and we as men have (less frequently, as generations follow, thankfully) been largely raised to perceive women as weaker than us. That has never made any sense, as women are the ones who give birth to all those generations and hold our households together and tolerate the likes of us males of our species, knuckle-draggers who happily remain oblivious to the undeniable FACT that, society and society’s attitudes toward rampant sexism/stupidity are Changing.
In today’s world, the chances are increasingly good that the person we’re gleefully pissing on may just be one of the increasing number of women who have said to themselves, “Enough!” and gone out to train in martial arts and/or self-protection skills, or the acquiring of non-lethal weapons like mace and pepper sprays and tasers and saps and baseball bats, and being increasingly told what they should have been told fifty years ago: don’t tolerate these pigs. Lay ’em out and let the ambulance drivers explain where they went wrong.
I promise any men reading this that, if you choose to “have a little fun” with the wrong female, that moment you wake up in the intensive care unit, with a tube the size of a radiator hose sticking out of your Little General, will be a moment of perfect clarity and enlightenment, when it occurs to you that you are no longer living in your Grandpa’s world and you are just going to have to Grow Up, Wise Up, and Shut Up.
Why not do this the easy way?
Approach every woman you encounter with courtesy, proffered respect, maybe a touch of healthy wariness, and the same treatment you would give to any guy you encounter. If you really don’t feel that way, FAKE IT ’til ya make it. This is no longer just touchy-feely, New Agey, sensi-poo pussification of the American (Canadian, etc.) male, as your Dad and his pals used to snicker over. This is the new Reality. When I suggested, above, that you’ll run into a woman who is not afraid to employ “a bit of the ol’ Ultra-Violence“, I left out the reality that there are some things that would be worse and hit harder than a kick in the cojones. Women possess proven cunning (see that part about tolerating the likes of us) and a rapidly decreasing willingness to tolerate any sort of bullshit from men. And many of these, your traditional doomats and victims and the target for your occasional (or daily) flare-ups of spineless insecurity know a great many of your secrets. They can ruin you and never even pick up a taser. Do you want everybody you know that you sometimes wet the bed when you get drunk? That you beat your dog? That you beat HER? That you lied on every employment application since 1986? That you have sex with chickens?
You might consider that for a moment.
AND, not for nothing, there is another major reality that you – or even you and a pack of six or eight of your undescended testicle buddies – cannot wish away or ignore, as you have with every other of the ten thousand other messages about how to treat women (kids, minorities, Jews, LGBTQ people, foreigners…these idiotic prejudices tend to run in packs). That ugly (for you) reality is that you cannot – and never really could, if you get right down to facts – just assume that all men are on your side. Last time I checked, a penis does not actually drain one’s cranial blood supply down to dangerous levels at which logic and reason become compromised. I recently, just this month, had some clown sidle up to me in a socially-distanced bar, NUDGE me in the ribs, and point out a waitress and say, “How’ja like to order a case of that?“
Well, A) I was there to taste a beer that is just being released, so that I can review it, and so was working, and B) nudging sorta severely violates the “six feet” thing and I don’t want anybody within six feet of me, even when there is not a fucking pandemic going on, and C) there is little I dislike more in life than having some mouth-breathing jackass trying to recruit me into his smarmy, shoddy, testosterone-poisoned alt-reality. I told him to back the fuck off and that, if I ever saw him again and heard him say something even remotely similar, I would make it my mission to get him thrown out bodily from whatever room we happen to be in. And then I said one of the things I say most…”Grow the Fuck Up.”
He was stunned and confused. I’m a GUY. I have testicles. I’m supposed to rubber-stamp his adolescent sexism, nod and wink and smile and say, “Boy, would I!” It threw this goober into a long moment of speechlessness and then a wounded retort which need not be stated here. I waved him off and said, “Get the fuck away from me.” Which, thank goodness, he did.
MOST American men, here in 2021, are NOT on your side. Most men find that behavior offensive. Most, sadly, will not become as confrontational as my cranky old ass but nearly all will work at avoiding the person who acts that way and his stock within whatever community he lives in will go DOWN, even if it takes a while to become apparent. WE ARE NOT ALL LIKE YOU. Many of us GREW UP. Many more of us have mothers and sisters and wives and daughters and you should know that anyone who ever disrespects any of the women with whom I am privileged to share my life will instantly find that theoretical basis of this post transmuted into savage usage of that taser, that sap, that baseball bat, or that pepper spray…or any blunt object at hand, if I have none of those things. This is not a threat. Far from it. This is a Promise.
Your continued piggish wallowing in attitudes which were actually never okay is nothing but an indulgence, a massive abuse of a Privilege that you don’t really have. Unless you’re created and lived in an incestuous little alt-reality in which outside attitudes never intrude, continuing to objectify and prey upon and abuse women WILL eventually have Consequences and they will be serious and inescapable. It may be only social ostracism or it may be losing your job or it may be divorce and watching lawyers vacuum out your bank account and/or wallet on a monthly basis but it will be something and you will not enjoy it, not even a little bit. Is this squeezing of your adrenal gland worth ruin? Or even massive inconvenience?
If you’re reading this and it makes you angry, YOU are the person I’m talking to. And my message is very simple:
THINK. Ask yourself how you would feel if some drunken jackass groped your sister – or your daughter? – in a bar. Would you have a nudge and a wink for that guy? Unless you’re too far gone into Toxic Masculinity Land, you would not and YOU would be hunting through your sock drawer for your taser…or some weapon even more idiotic and final, that might change your life forever.
All the readers of this website who have egged me on when I launch some barely-contained rant against Anheuser Busch or Founders or frivolous copyright suits? Hey, you’ve been settling for Pablum, all this time. THIS is a Rant. This is something about which I get LIGHT YEARS more jacked up than I do about AB/InBev snapping up another marginal brewery. This gets me FAR hotter than watching Ravenswood sic flesh-eating attorneys upon anyone whose corporate name or some random image swerves within 500 yards of some allusion to ravens. That’s all beverages and PR and marketplace melodrama. This is Real.
Jake Clark is worth fifty of any of the bozos who have treated her as she’s been treated and the LAST fucking place she should ever have to worry about that happening is in a Canadian brewing culture that she has labored to build and promote. But if anybody thinks this nonsense has gone away, I’ll point you to today’s (May 20, 2021) prime example of Stoopid In Beer, happening as you read this to Jean Broillet IV, now former brewmaster of the excellent Tired Hands Brewing of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, who has stepped down, just this morning for a past filled with not only a tragic inability to keep his dick in his pants but doubling down by making blatantly racist remarks. Broillet’s brewery makes what would most charitably be characterized as the “artsy/foufy” end of the beer spectrum, turning out sought-after beers like Key Lime, Apple Pie, Cherry Cheesecake, Blueberry Pancake, and (not kidding) “Space Food Cotton Candy Space Cookie Painkiller”, all beers that have come to be known as “Milkshake IPAs”. Many of us confuse “artsy” with “sensitive” and just assume that guys who trade in that kind of artifice would never act like drunked-up high school jocks but we would be wrong, in too many cases. The problem with assholes is…they look just like Us.
If you are not a man who acts this way, we have an obligation, these days, as Jake wrote, to “Say something. Shut it down. Stop supporting it. Stand up for us. Be compassionate.” She was asking for you to change your ways or deal with those who should. I am DEMANDING it because when you or someone you know acts this way, it sends the message that ALL of us of our unfortunate, benighted gender think and act that way and that lumps ME into YOUR character faults and I won’t have it. Don’t even start with that, “Well, this is just how I was raised!” bullshit. Your main social obligation in America is to adapt to your times, not violate the behavioral mores of today, now, where we’re all at as a society…or risk what comes back on you. You CAN, by God, change your attitudes THIS very day and you know it.
So, to quote a famous American shoe company…
Just Do It.