I remember asking a marketing professional to recommend a good place for dinner during a recent visit to Bengaluru and being directed by her to a joint ‘that has great beer and is a wonderful place to unwind’. The point is, while my query hadn’t been about a pub or a club (just a place to have dinner at), the response automatically infused two aspects – beer and unwinding – showing just how much both mattered to her as a person and a professional on a Friday night!
So then why was beer earlier mostly associated with the male drinker?
First off, we live in a country like India where just holding (let alone partaking from) a glass of alcohol was until recently considered taboo for a woman. A man could (and still can) consume large quantities, receiving applause from those gathered about his ‘capacity.’ In comparison, a woman who asks for a beer is still not looked upon too kindly in many parts of India, except perhaps during Ladies’ Night at a bar. Now if that seems like a contradiction, you’re absolutely right. To borrow the title from a (not so) popular SRK film, Oh Darling, Yeh Hai India!
Today, if you surf the internet, you will come across surveys with findings that state how due to lifestyle changes, the adoption of western culture, rising income leading to a higher standard of living and networking imperatives, many women have begun enjoying beer with friends, colleagues and even with their husband and other family members, that too guilt-free.
Two decades ago, while sipping a glass of wine at family gatherings was permitted in certain communities, consuming beer required resorting to several ruses, the most popular of them being that it is used as a hair conditioner during the final rinse. Now if a woman couldn’t get away with that one, it meant serious trouble!
However, things are easier to manage in a day and age where branded beer shampoo is a popular option for men. In fact, with a transformation in cultural attitudes and partners having a broader mindset, it is not uncommon to see once “holier than thou” saints turn sinners with a vengeance in a very short while.
The additional burden of responsibilities post-marriage has women spending their ‘me time’ at home, sipping on a beer instead of tea. Women belonging to very conservative families who had spent their lives till then as teetotallers and labeled their beer-guzzling spouses as drunkards, end up crossing over with an ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ attitude.
Those balancing marriage and career find excuses to stay back late at work and split the cost of a six-pack with a ‘beer buddy’ at the workplace. Similarly, going out with colleagues or friends once in a while invariably ends up being a few hours spent gossiping and sipping on a chilled bottle of beer.
In some cases, circumstances also end up playing a role. A middle-class girl marrying into an affluent family may discover a hidden benefit – drinking beer on the sly is no longer necessary. With this newfound freedom, many such women have started drinking beer more often and in larger quantities after marriage.
So let’s get this thing out of the way once and for all. Beer is NOT just a go-to drink for guys. Women can chug a lug just as well (probably even better, nowadays) as their male counterparts!
– Story contribution by Sheetal Shelar Patil