One of the starkest problems of British beer is that it is still widely seen as a drink for men. Many women who do drink it comment regularly that they experience sexist behaviour in the world of beer – whether from fellow drinkers, bar staff, festival volunteers or from the beer industry itself which regularly markets itself with material that assumes its audience is male (and also sexist).
Some people think that CAMRA is part of the problem. I think that CAMRA is actually a bit better than society in general, but being a bloke I could be grossly mistaken. If I’m right, CAMRA should be showing a good example and tackling sexism, rather than turning a blind eye to it. The idea that CAMRA should be in the forefront of making things better is one I owe to this post by Yvan.
On paper CAMRA is already committed to equality.
It’s time, I think, for us to adopt a stronger commitment to being on the right side of this, and the motion you can read below has been submitted to CAMRA’s AGM to be held in April.
After some discussion in the comments, we amended the motion as follows, which is the motion as submitted for the Members’ Weekend (struck-out portions have been removed, and additions are highlighted).
In the interests of reaching a consensus, we stop short of imposing mandatory sanctions on branches, pubs or breweries.
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the discussion.
Draft motion below:
CAMRA has a long-standing commitment to equality. We have never sided with self-styled "traditionalists" who maintain that pubs are men's domain.
CAMRA has an existing policy that we do not tolerate racist or sexist harassment.
Yet time and again we hear from women who say they are not comfortable drinking beer in pubs and at beer festivals. They complain of being patronised, leered at and having to put up with inappropriate comments.
This is not CAMRA’s fault
.,but CAMRA needs to step up and show through action that it is on the side of equality. We cannot solve the broad problem of sexism in society, but we can play a part in improving things.
Our aim should be that real ale pubs and CAMRA festivals are better than the average. We are already proud of the fact that fights at CAMRA festivals are extremely rare; we should try to ensure that sexual harassment is equally rare.
Festival volunteers should be aware that both male and female festival visitors may be experienced real ale drinkers, or have never tried it before, or anywhere in between.
CAMRA is pro-active in making the world of real ale welcoming and attractive to all.
CAMRA festivals must be exemplary in this regard.
1. Measures for beer festivals
CAMRA beer festivals shall not order beers that have inappropriate or sexist names or pump clips.CAMRA festival beer orderers shall have discretion not to order beers that have inappropriate or sexist names or pump clips.
b) If branches have difficulty in determining what is inappropriate or sexist, the NE or RD may use their discretion to constitute some kind of formal adjudicating body.
cb) If necessary (e.g. repeated complaints), food and merchandise vendors may be vetted on similar criteria.
dc) Festivals shall have a public policy against harassment (printed in the festival programme).
ed) CAMRA shall produce education materials and provide training for festival volunteers on tackling inappropriate behaviour.
2. Measures for pubs
a) CAMRA shall communicate to pubs that equality is a concern for us. We encourage pubs to adopt similar measures to our own: training staff,
not selling sexist beersand not tolerating harassment.
b) Pubs that are known to be dangerous or unwelcoming for women shall not be eligible for the Good Beer Guide. Branches shall maintain a confidential register of pubs which are problematic, and ask members to provide feedback/complaints.b) Branches may maintain a confidential register of pubs which are dangerous or unwelcoming for women, and ask members to provide feedback/complaints. Branches may exclude such pubs from the GBG at their discretion.
3. General measures
a) CAMRA shall take steps to ensure that its own publications and publicity materials are not sexist.