It’s wine o’clock somewhere, right?
Well, not for me. I don’t drink. Because Tracy and I have both chosen not to consume alcohol we tend not to talk about it much on the blog.
But lots of women like the joke. I see wine o’clock memes a lot in my social media newsfeeds. Wine o’clock is when children go to bed, when women finally get a moment for themselves, and when friends get together at the end of a long work day.
I’m thinking about this at the Feminist Approaches to Bioethics Congress in Edinburgh where Professor Kate Hunt’s opening plenary addressed gender and public health.
Hunt’s talk mentioned the gender based marketing of alcohol to women. Why?
We all know that the average lifespan for men is lower than the average lifespan for women. Hunt began with the question, how much of the gender gap in all cause mortality can be attributed to differential rates of tobacco use and alcohol consumption?
Lots it turns out. In pretty much all countries men out smoke and out drink women. The gap between these behaviors tracks the gender gap in all cause mortality.
Gender is made up of behavior and lots of the behavior is health related.
Hunt went on to talk about successful gender based campaigns aimed at men but my thoughts kept returning to alcohol and women.
The alcohol industry increasingly views women as an untapped market. Hence the “empowering” message behind “wine o’clock” jokes might not be so empowering after all. Gender socialization of women as non, or light, drinkers might be good for our health. And not all rebellion against gender norms is good for women. I think feminists see this in the case of smoking but not so much when it comes to alcohol.
What’s this got to do with health and fitness and feminism? I’ve been thinking about the ways the wine industry sets out to appeal to women. First, it sets itself apart from the broad category of alcohol. It’s not like rum or beer or those manly drinks. Second, it associates itself with rest, time for oneself, and friends. Wine is positively feminist. Indeed as a feminist academic, I hear women who are usually pretty critical cultural consumers sharing this messaging. Third, there’s the link between wine and fitness activities. People who care about their health drink wine, do yoga, and run marathons. Think about all the wine sponsored races out there. Tracy talked about getting a bottle in her race kit at the Niagara half marathon. There’s the wine and chocolate marathon in nearby Windsor, Ontario too. Wine sponsored running races seen to be cropping up everywhere. And the rise in the numbers of people running in these events is fueled largely by the increase in running by women.
No conclusions to draw here though I am concerned about rising rates of alcoholism and binge drinking among women. Likewise I’m concerned about the way the industry seeks to tie itself to healthy lifestyle pursuits like running.
Also, if you’re interested there are lots of wine based races out there! A very quick Google search turns up:
- Race Registration | Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend
- Bucket List: 10 Races For Wine Lovers |
- The Marathon du Médoc: running the world’s longest, booziest, race
- Bacchus Half Marathon 2016
- 2016 Half-marathon – Fueled by Fine Wine
- Half Marathons In Wine Country, Run Through Wine Regions
But still mulling. And I’d welcome your thoughts.