Fighting with the Sky

Manly Men Drink Beer

Posted on: August 31, 2009

After RMJ talked about the normalization of whiteness and maleness in beer packaging, I began to think about the perception of alcoholic drinks as gendered…specifically wine and beer.  Even today when I think that I am aware of gender norms and gender stereotyping, I still sort of think as beer associated with men and wine associated with women.  Beer is what manly men drink and wine is what sophisticated women drink.  At least that is what society tells us to believe.

spg1Beer advertising is almost always marketed towards men, what with the hot models and all.  Beer companies use women as objects to sell their beer.  Given this, it would make sense that the intended audience is men.  Take this St. Pauli Girl ad for instance.  The woman is actually the beer to be consumed by the man.

Even though I have many examples in my life and in pop culture, I still subconsciously associate beer with men and wine with women.  I drink both wine and beer.  So do both of my parents (granted, my mom does prefer wine out of the two).  One of my best friends (who is a woman) prefers beer.  Many of my friends who are both men and women drink both wine and beer.  So why do I still hold this subconscious association?  When I’m having a drink with my friends, I often don’t think about this association.  We’re just sharing a bottle of wine or having a few beers, despite the gender of whoever is involved.  But looking at wider society, I still hold this association.

One specific example that I am thinking of is the show Fraiser.  Fraiser and Niles love wine and sometimes look down on their father for drinking beer.  I watched this show a lot when it was originally on television and I still watch repeats occasionally.  But Fraiser and Niles are viewed as pompous and not “manly men” and one of the reasons for this is their love for wine and distaste for beer.

I think it’s also important to point out the class differences between beer and wine.  Beer is seen as the drink of the lower classes where as wine is seen as a more “rich” drink.  I believe this originally came from the prices.  Certain brands of wine are become less expensive, but these cheap wines are still more expensive with less amount than cheap beer.

Is beer seen as a manly drink just because of the advertising?  Why is wine associated with women (at least for men) then?  There aren’t really a lot of advertisements for wine.  Does anyone else hold this association despite personal experience with wine and beer?

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8 Responses to "Manly Men Drink Beer"

This is a great topic with which to start a broader gender stereotype/assumptions discussion. Marketers aren’t the only ones who think beer=men/wine=women. Most of us were raised this way… it is what we’ve seen/known, so we make assumptions too. But culture is changing and allowing for a lot more of these assumptions to be flipped on their head. Consider parenting: It used to be so gendered (mommies!) but more and more, men are raising their hands in participation and the interest in being acknowledged for it. When both men and women open up a bit and question their own assumptions, really exciting things happen and whole new worlds open. I lean toward beer drinking myself…

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I agree with Andrea – I think this topic is a great jump-off point to examining broader gender norms in our society.

I’m glad you brought up Frasier, I thought of that show once I started reading your post. Growing up, I always associated beer with either men or promiscuous women, and wine with women and affluent gay men. That’s what I was led to believe – those stereotypes didn’t just pop up fully-formed in my seven/eight year old head. Hard liquor was also associated with boys in my mind, unless it came in the form of a cosmopolitan or a daiquiri.

As a young teen (13-15), I drank beer and shots of hard liquor and smoked cigarettes in the company of teenage boys because I thought I was sending the message, “I’m not a prude. I’m a sexy party girl.” That’s so sad now that I actually type it out, but that’s what I was doing. Thanks gender norms!

My husband is a wine guy, as in, he’s in the business. He recently got his sommelier certification, so now he’s an accredited wine snob. 😛

The thought did cross the back of my mind at one point — is he “girlie” because he drinks wine? Since he is a wine expert and works in the field, he was “exempt” from the stereotype kind of how guys who cook were/are “girlie” unless they’re chefs.

These gender stereotypes are definitely being sent out loud and clear by advertisers, but I do think the tide is slowly, slowly turning.

(Two interesting asides: hubby’s the one who cooks at home, so if we’re stereotyping, what does that say about both of us? And I’m a Cherry Coke gal myself… can’t stand beer, and not much for wine at all…)

Ah, see women are supposed to the cooking at home for the family but when men cook they do it to far higher standards then we ever could. They are called ‘chefs’ not ‘cooks’ and the act of preparing food is transformed into art rather than a mere necessity.

Anyway, back to beer and wine! My boyfriend is a wine drinker, hates beer and has endured years of mockery due to the fact. I’ve been amazed at the comments we’ve both received, mainly ‘accusations’ of homosexuality. I don’t drink beer myself but I have an awesome picture of my mother at her wedding wearing a full on 80s pouffy white dress and drinking a pint of beer.

Interesting post. While I don’t think I really think of wine as a “woman’s drink,” I do often think of beer as something that women don’t drink.

I always thought that this was largely because my mother didn’t drink beer when I was growing up. My dad did, but my mom almost never did, so I thought it was just not something that women did. As I got older, of course, I realized this was not the case. But, because of this (and probably the influence of advertising that you’re pointing out), I still tend to think of beer as something that is mostly a “man’s drink.”

However, interestingly, I actually find it very attractive when a woman is a beer drinker because she’s acting “out of type.” It’s strange the way that advertising—and early childhood memories—can affect us in life.

I just had an idea after searching a few different sites about this women/wine men/beer topic. And none of the other sites mention this either. Beer will make you burp, where wine won’t (or shouldn’t anyway). So the burp factor is totally ok for guys but many women in my experience are embarassed when they burp, being considered un-ladylike and all. So there it is, long live the burps!

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