As feminists have pointed out so many times, there is a deep misogyny in what generally passes as history–not only is it for the most part literally his story, it’s portrayal of women when they do figure into this fairy tale is usually a horror story of misinformation. Perhaps one of the most misunderstood pieces of that narrative is the long and torturous persecution of women who were considered to be witches. And with that as background, along comes Port Brewing’s Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit Beer, which aims to please with what its makers see as an amusing little narrative about what to drink when attending a burning,
“Whether you’re a wonder healer, a caller of spirits or a lover of black magic, they will find you. And on that day, they will boil your blood, singe your skin and make a point to burn your soul to the ground. From that lonely stake, you’ll be left to contemplate your life of spell casting, obscure texts and a world operated between the shadows of night and day.
Convicted of a dark art, the crowd will gather to watch as they raze your earthen existence. An intolerable pain is the cross you’ll bear that day as you are removed from this righteous world. No one will summon the courage to save you in fear of their life. It sucks. But such is the life of a witch. In honor of your fleeting existence, we brewed Witch’s Wit. A light and refreshing wheat beer, it’s exactly the sort of thing you might expect to find being passed around the center of town on witch burning day. Say hello to the Prince of Darkness for us.”
Yep, burning and torturing millions of women was hilarious. Not. A protest has been mounted.The company’s response has been to say they will consider the matter at their next meeting. You can contact them here:
- Tomme Authur, Director of Brewery Operation, 800-918-6816 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sage Osterfeld, Media Liaison, 760-593-7243 or email@example.com
- Terri Osterfield, Special Events Manager, 800-918-6816 Ex. 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ruby Johnson, Service Manager, 800-918-6816 Ex 105 or email@example.com
Z Budapest and Bobbi Grennier have authored an excellent commentary which points out the inadequacy of that response,
What we’d ask is, then why is there any question that you wouldn’t issue an apology and drop this label immediately?
They go on to brilliantly skewer the company’s response to complaints about the label,
According to The Lost Abby leadership, Tomme Arthur, “Apparently, many of the emailers didn’t bother to spend time researching our branding and the positioning of our beers. In blindly denouncing our original art and the satire of our labels, most of the emailers failed to connect with our brands. Looking at these emails, it was obvious that in our desire to tell a great story, we had forgotten to get that information on our website in a meaningful way.”
It’s doubtful that the people complaining are going give a hoot about the company’s branding nor positioning. And to say that the emailers are blind to the label’s art and satire … clearly the leadership of The Lost Abby does not understand the complaints. So Lost Abby leadership, let us help you. These people are complaining that they find the art offensive and in poor taste … and in the beer making business taste is everything. You’ve left a sour taste in their mouths. That’s not a good thing and it is definitely not satire.
They also point to the accompanying merchandising of the label beyond beer,
When the women’s-only T-shirt art reads… Attend your next medieval witch burning event in style with this oh-so-flattering v-neck T-shirt. The front features the Lost Abbey Celtic cross while the back display’s our famous Witch’s Wit label… you have to realize, one this protest has made this beer label famous and two, they totally get and intend the anti-female/anti-witch message they are distributing.
While my spell-casting abilities leave something to be desired and while one’s first inclination might be to try to turn these folks into frogs, my real wish is that I could make misogyny and the his-story that perpetuates it disappear.
Postscript: I tried several times to get onto the Lost Abbey website, but it seems to be down. I have no idea why, but given that they are selling Witch’s Wit Beer…just saying.