Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Skinny Blonde Gets Naked Downunder

image Advertisers for beer have routinely resorted to oversexualizing and exploiting women to sell their product.  Often beer is associated with a hyper masculinity that includes expressing power and privilege in the most coercive sense.

The Australian been Skinny Blonde has taken the exploitation of women one step further by placing a woman in a bikini directly on the bottle.   As the temperature of the beer increases her clothes disappear thanks to a new technology used in the in ink in the label.

“We had the idea of a pin-up girl from the get go, we thought everyone uses women in their advertising campaigns so why not put it on a bottle?” Mr Rosser, who is the drummer in the Australian band The Vines, told The Times.

“So we had this idea of the disappearing bikini and researched into disappearing ink. Then we did a few trial runs and when we realised it worked we were stoked, we were over the moon.”

Crystal Lee, a barmaid at Bondi’s Beach Road Hotel, the first pub in Australia to serve Skinny Blonde, said that it was one of their most popular low-carb beers - especially when sold in a bottle.

“It’s a really popular beer, more in the bottle than on tap,” she said, before adding: “But that’s to do with the fact that the chick’s bikinis come off when people drink it.”

Ms Lee said that the beer, which has an alcohol content of 5.2%, was equally as popular among men and women – men for the bikini factor and women for the taste and that it was a ‘healthy’ beer. (emphasis mine)

We can always find an excuse to make the sexualization and exploitation of women palatable in a society that pushes patriarchal norms.  Whether it is for profit, sexual pleasure, or health we continually normalize such behaviour. 

It certainly is not surprising that this beer is a favourite amongst men.  What I find upsetting is that women are colluding with patriarchy because they have deemed this a “healthy beer”.   The irony in this is that it results in women participating in patriarchal discipline twice – once in the counting of calories (read: body discipline and fear of potential fat shaming)  and twice in the consummation of the beer itself.

We continually support our oppressors and each day in small ways women across the globe collude with patriarchy.   It is our work as patriarchy's support staff that ultimately allows much of womens oppression to continue unabated.  What is most disgusting about this incident is that not only are women approving of the over sexualization of female bodies, we are rewarding the exploitation by paying our hard earned income to do so.  In a world in which we routinely earn less than men the fact that we use our few disposable dollars in favour of a system that creates this instance testifies to how deeply we have internalized patriarchal norms.  Collusion is a fact of our ever day existence and functions like a form of social Stockholm syndrome.  As feminists we rally and we decry sexism but rarely do we speak openly and honestly about our own acts of collusion with patriarchy.  For us to advance and secure the liberation of women every where not only must we challenge men to change their behaviour we must change ours as well.   Without our help patriarchy would not be as powerful as it is and these small daily acts must come to an end. 

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