Over the past year I have been struck by how far along the road to female equality our industry in Australia has come & just how far we have to go. Now, please understand that I am not talking about how women are treated in the work place. I am talking about communication! I use the word ‘feminine’ deliberately as we should be able to still be feminine without evoking the classic ‘girly’ profile in a once male dominated, and to some extent still is, industry. However, it seems that to acknowledge that females can approach wine quite differently to the men in our lives brings out some very strident voices to the contrary.
When one of the first websites skewed towards a female audience launched last year, Sip Your Style was greeted with mixed feelings from some. It was almost if an invisible line was crossed. Some reactions were more along the lines of a snide giggle behind the hand but most people were supportative. The perception of some of the naysayers seemed to be along the line that any wine website that was primarily targeted at women would be ‘dumbed down’, the reviews would be fluffy & the articles patronising. As a contributor on Sip Your Style, I was honoured to be included in such a high caliber writing team (although I am probably the least stylish to be sure & probably the least ‘girly’ girl as well!). Did I write differently for SYS than I do for Wine Muse? Not really, I just write a bit more background on the wine for Wine Muse or Wine Diva.
With the launch of the Fabulous Ladies Wine Society, there were again comments flying on social media about ‘another’ female website & ‘why do we need them’?
That this type of reaction occurred was concerning in this modern era. It was not necessarily from guys either, most of the fellas kind of looked at their proverbial shoes when the discussion started, I think. Apart from the fact that these types of comments are just plain counterproductive, it also misses the whole point. A few actually. The main point being that in fact men & women are allowed to have a different style of talking about wine. Just as we have a different way of talking about cars, houses, dinner, clothes …. Always have, always will. It does not mean that we want dumbed down information, it simply means that we might be more interested in different aspects of the product, in this case wine, than men.
It is not just that we are allowed to have a different conversation with wine than men. I have seen the evidence in focus groups repeatedly – we do! And the decision criteria for choosing wine is different in many instances as well. So it makes a whole lot of sense to have websites that make women feel more welcome. It does not mean that only women enjoy these sites, there is no reason that men cannot read them as well. I have read many sites that quite frankly make my eyes cross with the length of some reviews & some of the information contained within. I find some of the blokey styles of writing can be off putting as well. Of course, let me just say at this point that there are plenty of great writers out there of both sexes.
The joy of the internet is that you can choose what you read or watch just as there is no barrier of entry if you wish to publish on-line. It makes for some pretty weird & wonderful content. So, if you find a wine site with a communication style that doesn’t work for you – the solution is a simple click away. If someone wants to blog their wine journey that they are just starting, great! These can be interesting reading if the writing is creative. If someone wants to start a blog dedicated to pink moscato, so be it! However, to imply that a site with a female target are all about sweet ‘girly’ drinks, which was where these comments led to incidently, is showing a somewhat unwelcome prejudice in itself. And not only that moscato, whatever the colour, is a girly drink!!! I have not seen any evidence that these site are reviewing any particular style of wine. Instead, they are covering an interesting range.
Surely, any conversation about wine, even better if it has an Aussie accent, on the internet is a good thing. It means that there is plenty of content to explore & discover at all levels. When I started Wine Muse in 2009, I did not choose to target either sex but I expect that there are times when it shows a somewhat natural tendency to strike a ‘girly’ tone. There is still a lack of on-line female wine bloggers/writers in Australia, and there is plenty of space for us all regardless of our experience in wine, regardless of our sex.
Let’s welcome the choice!
Disclaimer: I am a contributor to Sip Your Style as mentioned in this article.