Several Indiana brewing companies are facing scrutiny for using sexually suggestive designs of women on their beer labels. Accompanying these illustrations are names including “Leg Spreader,” “Sex and Candy” and “Naughty Girl.”
Businesses have the right to sell their product with whatever images they see fit, but the circumstances bring up questions about sexism and consumer consciousness. The public shouldn’t support businesses profiting from predatory marketing.
The common saying “sex sells” is often true, but the concept is taken in a different and more aggressive direction when alcohol is introduced into the picture.
Since alcohol is often used as a method of coercion into non-consensual sex, it is concerning when beer is sold under the title “Leg Spreader.” While indirect, this plays into the idea of rape culture – especially surrounding alcohol consumption. Obviously, drinking beer doesn’t make anyone a sexual predator, but it shows the consumer has no problem with the implications of the beer or simply does not think critically when purchasing.
Despite whatever innocent intentions Route 2 Brewing in Lowell, Indiana, may have had, this product sends a harmful and predatory message.
As consumers, we must be conscious about the message our purchases are sending. Buying and consuming beer with sexual images implies the support of this concept and further institutionalizes sexism and rape culture in industries, whether or not the person buying the beer believes himself or herself to be sexist.
It also sends a personal message to women that when people drink these beers in public, they are willing to spend their money on products that actively exploit women for profit. None of these implications are direct, and some may be unintended, but it is essential to practice consumer consciousness from a moral standpoint in these situations.
This situation is especially relevant considering the current environment surrounding rape culture in Bloomington. Recently, Kilroy’s Recess, an 18+ nightclub in Bloomington, tweeted that they “got rid of the wet t-shirt contests, but kept the underage girls”.
In the same vein as the sexually suggestive beer, Kilroy’s Recess was trying to capitalize its business on the young girls attending its club in a sexually predatory manner. It implies that going to Kilroy’s Recess will earn a consumer the opportunity to prey upon a young girl, just as naming a beer “Leg Spreader” implies that getting a woman drunk entitles a man to sex.
Many Bloomington residents have spoken out against the inappropriate tweet by Kilroy’s Recess, just as residents should speak out against the sexually suggestive beers.
Since no direct legal action can be taken against these companies, it is important to be vocal and express concern about the negative messages being sent by these breweries. If more people critique and actively avoid these businesses, they will eventually experience a loss in profit and realize the error of their marketing strategies.
Overall, if one is concerned with the sexist and problematic images being sold by breweries like Route 2, 18th Street Brewery and New Albany Brewing Co., the best course of action is to avoid buying the beer and to tell others to do the same.