// 12 May 2008

Occasionally – and you may find this difficult to believe – I find myself in a local hostelry, at the bar, seeking some form of refreshing beverage.

This was the case last week, when I was in a pub in Bloomsbury with a male friend. We were scouring the menu, and realised this particular establishment was currently advertising a Festival of Ciders (I know, right?). I glanced through the cider list, looking at names, prices and descriptions. Then I began to turn purple with rage.

“What’s the matter?” my friend asked. I could only splutter and gesticulate wildly at the CiderFest promotional flyer, which boasted the Jacques Orchard Fruits, and described it as being “perfect for the girls in the house. This lightly sparkling cider comes in a wine-like bottle, which is ideal for the more caring and sharing types. So come on, ladies, think Jacques as the perfect alternative to ‘a glass of white wine, please’!”

Notwithstanding the terrible copywriting – cider for girls? I mean, I know that particular forms of food and drink have been marketed as aimed at men and women for years and years and years, but cider – really? I’d never really considered that a gendered drink. And I’m not entirely sure how one form of fizzy fermented apple juice is more suitable for “the ladies” than another.

Anyway, suffice to say, once I’d recovered my aplomb, I ranted at my friend for a bit. Then I went to the bar and did not order any form of cider.

Comments From You

Lauren O // Posted 12 May 2008 at 2:41 pm

Since arriving in England about a month ago, I’ve also seen Kleenex for Men and those candy bars that say “NOT for girls” on the wrapper. This stuff has me absolutely baffled.

Catherine Redfern // Posted 12 May 2008 at 2:43 pm

I was in a pub in Saddleworth the other weekend and whenever someone asked for a half the landlord asked “Is it for a lady?”… hilarious… I haven’t actually seen that for ages but it made me and my partner chortle. If anyone doesn’t know what this means, if it is “for a lady” this means that the drink is put into a fancy curvy glass rather than a standard half pint glass. Talk about gendered drinks!

The best bit was when a woman asked for a half of lager and when asked “Is it for a lady?” She looked really puzzled and embrassed and said… “No… er… it’s for……… a man.”

Sonia // Posted 12 May 2008 at 3:19 pm

It’s interesting that you’ve never thought of cider as a ‘girl’s drink’ because I always drink it and get mocked for it for a variety of reasons, mostly to do with the fact that I actually *like* Strongbow, but sometimes because it’s ‘for girls’, and I have never considered cider as a ‘man’s drink’. Interesting too is that while lager top is perfectly acceptable for men on a nice warm day, lager and lime is looked down upon as another drink for girls who can’t quite cope with the manly taste of hops.

Anne Onne // Posted 12 May 2008 at 3:33 pm

Lauren, its part of the idea that masculinity is the absence of femininity. Therefore to reassure men that the chocolate or tissues or whatever is suitably manly for them to buy, you have to pretend it’s just for them, and not something anybody else (including women!) might want. Which is silly really, because none of the men I know actually give a damn about what the slogan is on the chocolate, or even if the pack is in ‘girly colours’! It’s a chocolate bar, for Pete’s sake!

That reminds me of the advert they have for men’s vaseline skin products. A lovely advert about how unique and resilient and strong and self-healing the skin is, but aimed specifically at men. Personally, I see that approach as much nicer and less ugly-shaming than the ads geared towards women. But it’s only like that if it’s aimed at men. Men’s skin isn’t that different to women’s, but the men’s adverts focus a lot less on having gorgeous smooth skin and other beauty cliches, and just focus on repairing damage. Branding for men has to be entirely different, with black and red, and definitely labelled ‘for men’ or men won’t touch it, apparently!

And ‘For the Girls!’ advertising is just as annoying, especially when used to fob off some inferior product with a smattering of pink on it. I don’t object to pink if it’s one of several choices available, bit it it’s the only choice, it really sucks.

So this is all about marketing, lack of originality (how do I make it appeal to a specific gender? Make it pink/black!!!), and the erroneous assumption that demand creates supply, when people can only buy what’s in supply in the first place, and don’t ‘demand’ new things. I think it’s much more a case of lazy marketing leading to a hype around something, which makes demand, after supply. After all, you can’t want something if you don’t know you’re supposed to want it!

Soirore // Posted 12 May 2008 at 3:56 pm

Surely girls shouldn’t be drinking alcohol at all. They should get prosecuted for targetting drinks at children.

Seph // Posted 12 May 2008 at 4:49 pm

ugh, I hate the whole “for girls!11” crap, especially pink games consoles (which always seem to be in the most horrible shade of ‘baby pink’ imaginable), which always come in bundles with some game about Barbie or being a vet x_x

Dan // Posted 12 May 2008 at 4:53 pm

I think the most important thing to remember here is that Jaques is over priced and crap. If you feel like trying exotic sounding ciders go for Kopperberg, still crap but half the price.

As for gendering of drinks, I think modern cider (ie. Strongbow, Magners) is more neutral, but the clowdy scrumpy stuff tends to bring to mind old burly west country men with giant side-burns. Probably the same with Ale, seen as an old mans drink while lager, while still seen as a mans drink is also seen as more gender neutral, probably because its seen as a young persons drink.

Juliet // Posted 12 May 2008 at 5:13 pm

I saw a bottle of red wine in a supermarket the other day, called “Fat Bastard”!

Alex T // Posted 12 May 2008 at 5:38 pm

I took a photo recently of a Pritt Stick ‘Just 4 Girls’. Pritt Stick!? It’s glue! GLUE!! Who the hell came up with that? I’ll put the pic up on the facebook group for everyone to point and laugh at.

Kirsty // Posted 12 May 2008 at 5:56 pm

This got me thinking as I used to drink cider like Kopperbergs because I didn’ t want manly ones like Strongbow. And I used to just order halves because I thought pints were too big and manly for my ‘dainty’ hands. Talk about gender conditioning….

Sian // Posted 12 May 2008 at 6:16 pm

To be fair, isn’t Kleenex for Men for ManStuff though..

Lauren O // Posted 12 May 2008 at 8:18 pm

Sian, I don’t know what ManStuff is, but I saw the Kleenex for Men in a Sainsbury’s. Plus the concept of “ManStuff” sounds pretty objectionable to me in the first place, but I suppose I can’t say that with much certainty, since I don’t know what it is for sure.

And yeah, Anne Onne, I agree wholeheartedly. It’s just weird seeing all this. The American advertising I’m used to is usually sexist, but it also usually doesn’t just come out and explicitly proclaim it.

Saranga // Posted 12 May 2008 at 8:31 pm

Kirsty’s comment reminded me – I drink ale and always used to refuse to get a half pint in case people thought I was too girly… Now I drink halves because it enables you to sample more types!

Laura // Posted 12 May 2008 at 8:34 pm

Lauren, I’d be pretty worried if I saw ManStuff in Sainsbury’s, it’s probably more likely to be found in the bedroom… Or in said Kleenex. If you get my drift.

Chameleon // Posted 12 May 2008 at 8:35 pm

I completely agree that it is totally absurd to classify certain foodstuffs and drinks as being more suitable for any gender.

Having grown up in Scotland and born in 1965 I still belong to a generation brought up to believe there was something intrinsically shameful about a woman entering a pub, especially if she – perish the thought! – went drinking alone. The stigma still clings like stale cigarette smoke. A woman drinking unaccompanied was seeking companionship (to put it delicately) and attracted disapproval like a candle flame attracts (and singes) moths.

I am immensely relieved that these prohibitions have now been overturned.

As for cider, there was one bar in Edinburgh, in which even in my undergraduate days (mid-1980s) a stigma continued to attach to any man ordering a pint of it. He was regarded as effeminate – the cardinal sin in this unrepentantly macho environment.

Andie Berryman // Posted 12 May 2008 at 8:53 pm

This is lunacy.I live in Oxford where it is the general norm for women to drink pints of whatever.

Martina // Posted 12 May 2008 at 9:52 pm

I know a girl who stopped seeing a guy because he drank cider. She put it this way; if he can’t even drink manly drinks – then I’m sure he won’t be a man in any other way either.

It’s sad really, but I guess the guy should be lucky he didn’t have to date someone like that anymore.

Lauren O // Posted 12 May 2008 at 10:13 pm

Hahaha, oh jeez! Well, if they need a special brand of Kleenex for that, then, you know, go ahead Kleenex. You cater to that market.

Alex Corwin // Posted 12 May 2008 at 10:13 pm

In Russia they launched a brand of Vodka specifically from women…

Anna // Posted 12 May 2008 at 10:55 pm

“Women drinking vodka is not only unhealthy, it’s ugly and un-ladylike,” said one doctor. “They should stick to more appropriate drinks for women, like champagne or white wine.”

Oh, dear me.

I am slightly inebriated myself on beer and red wine.. how ugly and unfeminine I must be.

Sian // Posted 12 May 2008 at 11:31 pm

Sorry Lauren I was being childish!

Sian // Posted 13 May 2008 at 12:10 pm

Anna-beer and wine’s the only stuff I drink too..

Weird that that doctor says that though, as vodka is the usual drink for those on a diet/detox, both things associated with women. Which just goes to show the whole notion makes no sense.

Jane Eyre // Posted 13 May 2008 at 7:15 pm

Ha! someone else has noticed the ‘Gendered Pint Glass’ thing. My sister and I worked this one out about 5-10 years ago because whenever we were anywhere that served alcohol we noticed these two different shaped glasses came out. There’s a sculped, shapely one for ladies, and the more often seen one with the ridge for the blokes. We wondered if it was a northern thing, but obviously not… it became a bit of an in joke in the end, we considered doing a zine piece or essay on it for sociology or something….

NorthernJess // Posted 14 May 2008 at 4:19 pm

I worked behind a bar for years, and the only time I ever noticed a difference in gender-drinks was when some one pointed it out, usually when I was waiting on and put the drinks down on the table, the women would usually make some sort of joke about how ‘they couldn’t drink all that’, meaning they didn’t want to be seen drinking all that (but would quite happily drink it in two servings twice a fast) I always presumed this was the women automatically deflecting to the men to appear less ‘hard’ than them so they could keep their authority. When I got my first job outside of a bar (call centre) I went on a drinking session with my new found colleaugues to over hear in the loo that I was considered a ‘lesbian’ by the other girls (one of whom had earlier in the evening asked if the hair hanging down my waist was ‘real’, I never realised till then how bad the hair extension epidemic was because not only did I drink a PINT, it was BITTER!!!!! These are girls who I have had a long detailed conversation about by new boyfriend, male celebs I fancied etc.

Also, to add to the Kleenex debate, Man size cleans up WomanMess just as well (or ManMess that turns into WomanMess because Men leave it in Women and therefore its the Woman who cleans it up, grrr) but I use cottan handkerchiefs cos their more environmentally friendly. Also the pretty floral stitching is so pretty…

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