Beer is more than just a beverage; it is a brand. In A Rhetoric of Style, Barry Brummett states that “a brand is a unified perception of how a product works within a culture to solidify notions of value and community” (58). And as everyone knows, beer is for a relaxed atmosphere that celebrates socializing and kicking back with good friends.
This community of beer drinkers is constructed of people who “identify” with the values of the brand and with each other. Kenneth Burke explains this concept in Rhetoric of Motives as the idea that humans identify with what they are interested in, while each remaining “unique and individual” (20). The brand of beer brings people together who have a fondness for camaraderie, relaxed atmospheres, and—for those part of the craft beer community—interesting ingredients. Anyone who shares these interests might identify with the craft beer community.
And yet, by and large, the brand of beer is heavily marked as masculine. If there is one thing we know about consumers of beer, according to advertisements, it's that they are almost always dudes. Beer advertisements usually depict men drinking beer, giving women little or no agency: imagine Dos Equis’s familiar “Most Interesting Man in the World,” always surrounded by beautiful women admiring his talent and suave nature. Or Corona commercials where attention is drawn to “sexy” women in bikinis, surrounding men on a pristine beach. If a woman is even shown holding a beer, she is often objectified or marginalized.
There are, of course, female beer drinkers. And, instead of waiting for advertisers to target this marginalized group, some women are taking to the blogosphere and writing about beer, using their gender to reach out to other women and act as agents in beer culture. Female-focused craft beer blogs Bitch Beer, Hop Bunnies, A FemAle View, Hail to the Ale, and The Beer Babe, all well maintained by women who are passionate about beer, demonstrate the complicated rhetorical situation of female beer drinkers.
This article highlights certain rhetorical strategies—what I consider feminine rhetoric—evidenced by these blogs—and reflects on the risks and rewards of those moves for beer-loving women everywhere...