Beer is for Boys and Other Gender Constructions

Michael Messner describes liquor advertising as the creation of a lifestyle. During sporting events constantly on at bars, these commercials are frequent and pervasive. In the quintessential beer advertisement, a hegemonically feminine woman reclines on some inanimate object expensive enough to relay her worth and the quality of the product. The programs are aimed at male viewers who are the primary consumers of sports media, and the portrayal of women in this way to male and female consumers promotes gender roles already in place. Constant portrayals of women in a certain highly- sexualized and dehumanized manner hails all women to identify with that ideal for themselves. Because liquor advertising attempts to portray an idealized lifestyle, people then attempt to come as close to those lifestyles as possible- portrayal  of self included. At the Cubs game on Wednesday night, even viewers of the event were dressed to their respective gender identities. The masculine gender construction engendered by these advertisements hails men to identify as highly athletic and emotionally stifled. The portrayal of gendered expectations in liquor and beer advertising hails women and men alike to attempt to replicate the hegemonic gender roles for themselves in order to come as close to the idealized lifestyles the ads portray as possible.

The boys at the bar were all dressed in jerseys- mostly for the game but many of them were just for other generic sports jerseys. Before alcohol became involved, reactions to the game remained contained. Many of the girls who also wore shirts and jerseys for the game had altered them in order to remain consistent with the sexualized hegemonic femininity of liquor ads. Often, cropped or more revealing cute tops were worn beneath jerseys left unbuttoned. Alternatively, the necks of t shirts were severed to reveal more. The contrast between the level of effort to dress and perform their gender of men and women in the bar was stark. Due to the fact that women are portrayed by advertisements and the media as inanimate objects of value, they are then forced to create worth for themselves by dressing and looking better in order to present themselves in public. On the contrary, the boys could have rolled from their dorm beds and walked into the bar and through the sheer presentation of self as athletic they retain worth from their peer audience.

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In addition to this, on social media that night and the following day the presence of women and men portrayed their existence at the event in radically different ways. On social media sites such as Instagram, the images that the female attendees were placing had a much higher personal aesthetic value than those of the male attendees. Most of the guys who attended the game or a bar during the game posted images that displayed primarily their interest in the sporting event and the presence of alcohol- a substance that also socially deems the consumer “cooler” due to the idealized lifestyle portrayed by liquor advertisements. Their interest in athletic events and consumption of alcohol are both ideals that would be consistent with the mainstream portrayal of masculinity that they are successfully performing. In some pictures, the faces of the boys are blurred as long as the location was documented. It is clear that the presentation of their physical presence is not the primary content of the photography. On the contrary, female attendees photos for the most part are more clear and focused on the attractive nature of their faces, outfits, or physical presence in general. Even if the photo is blurred, it is clear that their hair is done, their outfit is cute, among other physical performances of their gendered expectation in this setting.

Finally, the players themselves perform a gendered role not only by being physically gifted athletes but in one player’s performance of a sexual- but not sexualized- identity in his celebration dance. David Ross played his last game with a sense of mysogony at heart. In a celebration dance capping off what was arguably one of the best games of baseball in its history, he thrust his pelvis in a celebratory dance after a solo home run to cap off his baseball career, promoting the idea that men are the drivers of sexual interaction and women are the receivers. This is also an idea promoted by liquor advertising, such as the recent beer advertisement including two male protagonists that attend a yoga seminar purely to scope the attractive and objective nature of the female attendees. This idea is perpetuated in every single alcoholic advertisement promoted to the masses during athletic events that are consumed en masse. The patriarchal presentation of men in a dominant role and women in a submissive role is a widely pushed notion. In beer and liquor advertising that people base their gender performances off of, women are always displayed like the yoga athletes- personality and humanity omitted and performing a role of physical presence while the men in the advertisements are on a quest that relates personality to the brand. Another advertisement that follows directly into these footsteps is the Dos Equis beer commercials featuring the most interesting man in the world. The most interesting man in the world has accomplished a multitude of wild and drastic feats however, any women featured in the advertisement surrounding him are present purely for physical aesthetic. The attractiveness of the women brings the man in question social currency- supporting his cache as an mysterious and aspirational person. Like the all other beer and liquor advertising, Dos Equis perpetuates the power differentials of the patriarchy.

Messner, M. Montez de Oca, J. Author. “The Male Consumer as Loser: Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Media Events.” 2005. Journal of Women in Culture and Society: University of Chicago 2005.

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