A letter to Carlton Draught by Brenna from Griffith University

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to complain about one of your controlled brands, Carlton Draught, and their billboard advertisement promoting their beer; “Best served fresh. In a glass. In a pub. By a cheerleader. We should stop now.” There’s one of these billboards right by my house, and I am sick of walking past it every day.

It puzzles me to try to think of reasons why the ‘by a cheerleader’ qualification becomes necessary in an attempt to sell your product, but instead of trying to query why, I may as well just assume you’re trying to perpetuate the sexism already present in society, because the only way you will ever be able to convince a male to buy your beer is if they think it is going to be served to them by a scantily-clad woman. The portrayal of the servant cheerleader, and on a wider scale the servant woman, perpetuates the perception of women as robotic slaves who exist to ‘serve’ the oh-so-masculine men who ‘own’ them. Not to mention how it devalues and degrades women in society.

On a macro-level, the portrayal of women in the media is controlled and dictated by socially constructed male views. The dichotomy of gender-determined roles perpetuated by your advertisement allows men to justify their self-determined status as dominant and powerful subjects with an unquestioned ability to treat women as powerless servants.

Why does the woman always have to be ‘serving’ the man? Why is her depiction as a ‘cheerleader’, with all the connotations placed on cheerleaders by society, so necessary? Why not the equally intelligent and respected woman and man sharing a drink that they each bought themselves with their almost-equal wage?

The whole ‘woman cheerleader serving the man’ message normalises the objectification of women; it makes it hard for your sisters and your daughters to see themselves through valuing eyes instead of the sexist lens that distorts and demeans them as nothing more than servants to men. It makes it difficult to have public spaces, such as bars, safe and free of harassment and assault.

Women do not exist to serve men. It’s pretty simple, and if I were you, I would be ashamed to be perpetuating the contrary.

It frustrates me beyond belief to think of all the people who have fought for so long, and those who are still fighting, for women’s rights and equality, only to have women still being objectified by ‘admen’ in 2012. Misogyny, sexism and beer advertising is a well-worn path. Perhaps you should start to pave a new one. I’m not quite sure what a servant cheerleader has to do with your beer, but perhaps your beer is just really that terrible that the only way you can sell it is through sexism.

Regards,

Brenna Booth-Mowat

PS. Before anyone brings any comments along the lines of “at least our ad isn’t as sexist as [insert X-BRAND advertisement here, i.e. the Heineken ‘fembot’ or many others of the like]” to the table, when did we starting comparing levels of objectification to justify its existence and excuse and dismiss actual sexism? Sexism is sexism; it doesn’t matter if you think your ad is ‘not as bad’.

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