While on vacation in the Cayman Islands in July, I was browsing the aisles filled with local Tortuga rums at a liquor store in Georgetown when my attention was grabbed by one bottle which stood out from all the rest. It was bubblegum pink and called "GIRL," with a tagline that read "For Girls Only." A girl myself, I was intrigued. I picked up the bottle and scrutinized it, learning that it was a low-alcohol (25-percent ABV) mixture of lychee and raspberry liqueurs and Cognac. Of course it was.
My issues with GIRL and Skinnygirl aren't related to how they taste but rather how they employ pointed, demeaning gender assumptions for marketing purposes.I decided to forgo making a beachside "Girly" (GIRL, pineapple juice, and cranberry juice) or Bubblegirl (GIRL and Champagne), two of their signature cocktails, but made a point to look for GIRL in local liquor stores when I returned home to New York City. I didn't find it, but what I did chance upon was Skinnygirl Margarita, a diet-worthy bottle of pre-made margaritas enhanced with agave, created by Bethenny Frankel, the star of reality television shows The Real Housewives of New York and Bethenny Getting Married.
As someone who works in the food and spirits world, I was struck by these two brands of female-friendly alcohol. Unquestionably, beverages like Stolichnaya Razberi or green apple-flavored Smirnoff Ice were created to attract a more diverse (i.e. female and younger) vodka-drinking audience, but when did alcohol become so focused on blatant gender-specific marketing?
I am aware that many women don't like the taste of hard liquor, and many women want to lose weight. But not all women. And certainly not me. In truth, my issues with GIRL and Skinnygirl aren't related to how they taste (though I have my doubts about them) but rather how they employ pointed, demeaning gender assumptions for marketing purposes. If we're going to have gender-based marketing in the food and beverage sector, let's try and be a little more transparent. You're not selling feminine hygiene products; you're selling booze. We don't need the perpetuation of stereotypes by packaging alcohol in bright pink bottles emblazoned with "GIRL" or bottles depicting a "skinnygirl": a large-breasted, tiny-waisted cartoon female, cocktail shaker in hand. Instead, give me some respect, and then maybe I'll buy your product.
And on that note, I'm going to have a Scotch, straight-up. Because I'm a woman and I know what I want. I don't need anyone telling me otherwise.
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