The other day I was studying with a couple of friends and, while we were on a break, one of them offered me a beer that had entered the Colombian market a couple of years ago. This beer’s marketing strategy is based on the idea of it being “the beer for women.” I said that I wasn’t going to try it, because I think that products that are promoted using ideas of a “macho” culture are not compatible with my way of thinking. And hence we started a very interesting debate that motivated me to write this post.
Why do I think that the concept of a “beer for women” is enhancing the structure of a “macho” culture and society? Simply because I don’t understand why on earth gender would define tastes in beverages or food. Is it that we unconsciously think that women are not as strong as men and because of that we cannot handle a strong standard beer? Are there not men who may like a softer beer better? To give that much importance to a marketing campaign might be regarded as silly by many people, but I believe that those seemingly simple strategies are deepening the ideas that could be considered part of the foundation of gender discrimination. And those ideas are still in the back of our minds.
Our generation has definitely seen improvements regarding gender equality. In fact, at least in my case, I have never been discriminated because of being a woman (or at least I haven’t noticed anything that suggests that), and I have always felt that I have had the same opportunities for growth, education and professional progress as men. Nevertheless, lately I have come to know some statistical information that shows the reality is different from my previous perception. For example, women in my country—including women with Master’s and doctoral degrees—are currently earning less than men. This finding shocked me, because I thought the days of gender discrimination and the “glass ceiling” were over. In fact, it’s a general reality in a lot of countries that, even though more and more women are being promoted to better positions, the top management is still mostly dominated by men.
I also remember that one of the things that most surprised me when I visited Guatemala was the excessive shyness of women in the villages. Even though I am a woman too, they wouldn’t look at me, they wouldn’t even talk to me, and not because they didn’t want to, but because they’re used to being silent housewives who shouldn’t talk to visitors. They must wear the traditional outfits, while men wear whatever outfits they want to. Their opinions are usually not taken into account. Fortunately, with projects like COJDECA, young people are changing this situation. In the picture you can see the differences in their outfits, and you can also see one girl that decided not to follow the cultural rules of her village and wear a pair of jeans and a shirt. Let me be clear: I’m not saying that it’s bad to wear traditional clothes. What I’m saying here is that it shouldn’t be a requirement only for women. In fact, every girl and boy should be able to choose what they want to wear.
It’s true indeed that women and men are not the same, and that’s the way it should be. But I think those differences should only be related to our nature, which definitely influences our roles in families and how we behave in personal relationships, just to give a few examples. But it shouldn’t affect our salaries or jobs. Men and women should consider each other as partners: human beings that live together and complement each other. And I think that seemingly simple things as actively promoting beverages for women, for example, may be deepening the preconceived ideas of gender differences that are not healthy for our societies.