Thank You for Not Putting Down Women

You know Harry Schuhmacher, right? I don’t mean as in you’re personal acquaintances, only as in knowing who he is and that he’s got 17.9K Twitter followers. If you’re at least somewhat knowledgeable about beer culture and you don’t know Schuhmacher’s name, I’m willing to bet you’re not a wealthy person.

Schuhmacher, who lives in San Antonio, Texas, runs with a pretty fancy crowd, as in August Busch IV of Anheuser-Busch and Mike Hinkley, co-founder of Green Flash Brewing Co. On January 29-30, several hundred movers and shakers in the beer world will attend Schuhmacher’s annual Beer Industry Summit at San Diego’s Hotel del Coronado. Registration for the two-day event is $1300 per person, and hotel rates range from $369 to $2839 per night.

What do Schuhmacher and the conference offer for that kind of money? Information and a chance to schmooze among the beer world’s monied glitterati. It all began nearly two decades ago when Schuhmacher started a Monday-Friday trade publication with the latest beer news and offered it only online, a rarity in 1998.

Apparently, Beer Business Daily delivers. So much that folks are willing to pay $675 for an annual subscription to Schuhmacher’s news and insights. You can add on Craft Business Daily for $1010, and for $1360, throw in Wine and Spirits Daily.

I say that BBD apparently delivers because I’ve never read it. They don’t give out free samples, and you don’t exactly find old issues laying around the public library. What I did just finish reading, though, is Schuhmacher’s Thank You for Drinking Beer, which you can order from Amazon for a mere $12.99, or only $9.99 for the Kindle version.

The “Essays and Stories” in the book’s subtitle are about Schuhmacher’s personal and business life for the most part. If only most of what he writes is true, he’s one zany guy who gets himself into some hilarious situations. Even when he slipped getting out of the bathtub and couldn’t get up from the bathroom floor, he managed to tun it into one funny story.

Early on, Schuhmacher writes that the motto in his office is, “If you’re not pissing off at least a quarter of your readers at any given time, you’re not doing your job.” With creative phrases like “fermentationally challenged,” he pokes fun at pretty much everybody, from entire countries to himself. Parts of the book read like frat house talk (Comparisons of one drink tasting “like Zeus is peeing in your mouth” with another that’s “like Aphrodite peeing in your mouth.”

None of that bothered me. Some of what men say, you have to chalk up to boys being boys. What did bother me was Schuhmacher’s constant references to women as beautiful, sexy, etc. Examples:

Relating a childhood experience, “my friend and his hot-older-sister-in-a-bathing-suit…”

Describing his first hire: “She was professional, attractive, and very well put-together for a girl from Longview, Texas.”

On a trip to LA: “As you know, I prefer my friends to be beautiful, smart and funny…One is a beautiful movie producer…one is a beautiful and brilliant young dermatologist…”

Writing an email reply: “Now Karel is cool and pretty and a good friend…”

Finding a new physician: “Yes, my new doctor is a female, and I’m happy to report that she is an attractive female (not that that matters, of course).”

Whether or not this one actually is a neighborhood saying as Schuhmacher writes, did he really need to report this description of margaritas at a local bar? “They’re like boobs—one is not enough, two is good, three ain’t right, and four is perfect. So naturally, I would have four.”

Before anyone says I’m overreacting, consider a December post by beer writer Bryan Roth where he called out breweries for beer names like Date Grape and Panty Peeler Tripel. Bryan, who writes regularly for All About Beer and other trade magazines, is a beer friend I and a lot of other folks really respect.

Men replied to that post saying things like, “This whole article is about a non-issue,” and “Keep political correctness out of beer.” Another: “…the brewmaster at Orval, Anne-Françoise Pypaert, is a woman. Do your homework, and when you’re done, grow up.” I take it as a sign of societal progress that more men actually responded saying they agreed with Bryan.

I know Schuhmacher’s kind of male Texan talk. It was all around me growing up in Austin and, yes, it still exists in some corners. I’d like to think American culture has made some progress in the objectification of women, but yesterday, January 17, Fox News (not exactly a bastion of progressive ideas), had a story that some people were complaining about Golf.com’s 2017 Most Beautiful Women in Golf because it includes a female sports reporter and the wife of a golfer. Hello? How about recognizing these women for their golf skills? And then there’s our incoming President’s well documented and notorious attitude toward women. It doesn’t take much to imagine some of the quips Schuhmacher and his wealthy pals will make at the Coronado in a week and a half.

As long as the men in power think this talk is funny, they’re signaling a free pass to all males. Gentlemen, whether you’re rich, poor or anywhere in between, you can profess your respect for women and how you see us as equals a thousand times, but repeating boob jokes and saying a professional woman not only knows her job but is attractive, well, you’re telling us that you don’t believe we belong at the boys’ table. Man up and grow up, guys.

Comments

  1. I think you’re right that men nowadays are more likely to agree that these attitudes need to change. It will continue to change, I think. Some of my earliest TV memories are of Benny Hill and the Miss World competition. I used to watch these with my older sister and parents. The change is demonstrable right there: at the time in the early 1980s it was accepted my me, my sister, my mum and my dad. Now all four of us would have issue with it.
    However, it only took a few days after the new UK Prime Minister was elected for the main story across British tabloids to be not about policy or decision-making but the clothes she was wearing! This never happened with Cameron, Brown, Blair or Major.

    • Leslie Patino says:

      Hi Alec, and thanks for your perspective from across the pond. I do think girls growing up in the U.S. today get very different messages about women’s roles than we did in the 60s and even than you and my daughters did in the 80s and 90s. Three days ago, I joined 25,000 people for the San Jose, CA Women’s March. Our twenty- and thirty-something women are much more independent and sure of themselves than we were at that age.

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