Fragments of a Language of Love*

By 8th March 2016Uncategorised

I recently bought a shampoo from some French sounding manufacturer, and the reason why I did so was that on the bottle it said: “…because we believe that every woman deserves to look and feel fabulous”. However I wanted to interpret this, I was very taken by this kind of commitment and I will never use any other hair care product ever again. When the thesis applies that gender is a social construct (unlike sex, which is simply delectable), I can use it to look and feel fabulous while showing solidarity with all women of the world, or I can even donate some bottles to the women in the refugee camps in Calais, because they deserve better than just being beaten up by a power drunken riot force on behalf of our mindlessly chauvinistic societies.

Feels and looks fabulous: Woman

Or otherwise, me using it might make all other women look and feel fabulous. I have no idea how that might work, but we know of a similar idea that male beer drinkers sometimes utter when it comes to their perception of their surroundings under the influence of alcohol.

Whoever thinks that some of the things said and done here are bordering sexism, should be made aware that someone reproducing fragments of a more or less commonly available wisdom doesn’t automatically qualify for any –ism of the different types available. Not more than e.g. a hooligan in a football shirt shouting something deprecatory with regard to someone else’s upbringing, sexual preference or skin quality, although said hooligan might not be acutely aware that he or she is merely reproducing conventionalisms.

Because the constitutive elements of any of these –isms are: 1. Objectification of some however defined Other 2. from a position of power, or alternatively 2b. in a supportive/protected environment**. You can try to dispute that as long as you like – I have a beer in the meantime, and it might be even one that women fancy.

My colleague and partner in business, a typical bloke with a mindset firmly stuck in the Seventies of the last century, recently said about Purple Moose’s excellent Cwrw Ysgawen (we all know that this is Welsh for Elderflower Beer), that it is very popular amongst women… is that sexist? My gut feeling says yes, and if I wanted to make myself understood to someone sexist, I would probably say: “Man, you can invite me to your place, switch off the light in the bedroom, and I show you what’s popular amongst women!” – My knowledge says: No it isn’t. Because the chap doesn’t steer the discourse and has no definition power whatsoever.

So what is popular amongst women, when it comes to beer? Now, do you really think I fall into the trap I set myself?

One of the remarkable phenomena of the craft beer revolution is that the face of a typical beer drinker has changed – no longer are they like that miserable advertising target of Anheuser Busch at 0:41…. did I use that already?

But all these lovers of a good drop have something in common: they are remarkably pretty, all of them. Just have a look in the mirror. And 100% of them are equally divided amongst all genders imaginable.

Remarkably pretty: Craft beer drinker of a socially constructed gender

And it doesn’t matter what they drink. My favourite customers are two young mothers, who come in from time to time with their little kids sleeping in their buggies, and buy a couple of Delirium Tremens and two bottles of Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch or something equally smooth and supple. Of course they do that – there was never any doubt.

Some other female of a rather delicate and fragile physical appearance headed straight to the India Pale Ale from Nøgne Ø. I could have known it, couldn’t I? If I wasn’t full of preoccupations and predispositions and thought that this woman was in fact a former Russian heavy weight boxer reborn in the wrong body.

I have to overcome this and continue learning, and my agenda says that when a 35 year old slim*** and beautiful**** and intelligent female asks me for a recommendation, I will first ask her for her ID (since she clearly looks younger than 25) and then recommend Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard. Not because it is something excellent. I actually think if you want to enjoy a beer, you rather avoid it. But it works very well on two different levels: Firstly it is one of these drinks which are wonderfully in line with the image that was created for them – after the first sip you turn into someone old, disillusioned, cynical, with a deep contempt for other people; it’s great, because you also know it will go away again (or at least you hope it will).

And secondly, because… if you have ever watched this infamous advert:

Just imagine you were asked to create the diametrical opposite of it… you couldn’t have done better than coming up with the product insert of this beer. “You are not worthy” – this double alienation of every ad we know is a great celebration of our independence, enlightenment and beauty and it is one piece of marketing that doesn’t try to insult our intelligence. Unless they use this trick to sell the product…

However, when a 35 year old slim, beautiful and intelligent male asks me for a recommendation, I don’t ask for an ID, because he clearly looks like 35, but recommend Purple Moose Ysgawen. Why? Just because I believe that every man deserves to look and feel fabulous. That’s why.

 

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*The title is pinched from Roland Barthes, and the English translation is called “A lover’s discourse”, but that looks like a misunderstanding 

**These hooligans do not have power either, unless we concede it to them, but that would make our contribution to racism stronger than theirs.

***“slim” is not meant to include or exclude people – it rather serves two other purposes, but I won’t tell you which ones

****Ditto, and also, I already said that you are all beautiful anyway

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