Really? We are still on this gender claptrap?

Dear First Families (as much respect as I might have for you personally, as well as many of your wines):

Resorting to the gender divide to promote your agenda and events is ridiculous. The Fabulous Ladies press blip this week? Did you zero favours. Retweeting it? Tied you to the sentiment.

And that sentiment was predominantly negative. The tone was ugly, and failed to do anything to promote these ‘fabulous ladies’ as anything more than an afterthought.

I’m really not sure why we need to be saying this again, but women in wine? Great. Plenty of us. But how about we talk about the work, not the gender? How about we discuss the innovation in wine technology, in marketing nous, in analysing and interpreting trends, and channelling sales and wine strategy appropriately. Or not. A gender issue arises when we discuss things in gender terms. How about we ignore it, and just do what we do? The issue then cease to be, should it ever have existed.

Perhaps, in the interests of everyone, we can avoid resorting to terms like ‘the macho Australian wine industry’. This is stirring for a reaction, and pandering to a dreamt-up cause. Hands up anyone who actually sees our industry as being ‘macho’? Yes, there are men in the industry. Many men. But not, I would suggest, the aggressively hyper-masculine type that the carefully chosen ‘macho’ would indicate. And not, I would also suggest, to the deliberate exclusion of women, as the tone of the article might suggest. Wine, and farming, have been generally the province of men since Australia was settled. As we have more women showing an interest, and more families with daughters wishing to follow in the family footsteps, we are starting to see the natural rise in the numbers of women in the game. This is not unusual. This is a natural evolution. And it is nice to see. What it is not, is a soapbox.

The item on the site uses the following terms:

– patronising
– jibe
– good ol’ blokey buffoonery
– misogynistic

It sideswipes Colin Campbell’s acknowledgement of the great women coming through the ranks by chastising him for the use of the word ‘remarkable’.

It says that the place of women is long-awaited. By whom? As far as I am aware, there have been women working in wine for decades. And longer. Actually, pretty much since the beginning.

It says the gender debate it has created from nothingness will be ‘well and truly null and void’. When, and only when, ‘this generation takes the helm’. Which effectively writes off the women already happily running their own businesses, working in and around wine, and just being themselves. Nice work for a site professing to advocate for the hardly-done-by women in wine.

I understand that women in wine as a category is smaller than men. I just fail to see that that is a point of blame against the men who have been happily working the land and the industry for so long. It’s not like there has been a concerted effort to prevent women from getting into the industry. It has simply been a natural evolution. And the terms used above are derogatory and demeaning. They do not help. Should there actually be a gender issue, this kind of terminology is simply fuel on the fire. It lessens your position, and debases your argument. And it manages to actually ignore the fabulous women for much of the text…

So, I am all for celebrating the wonderful people in our industry. We have some truly wonderful identities, with more emerging every year. And to a certain extent, I think that there is probably room to fete the women making their mark. But at the end of the day, I would rather celebrate the people. Male, female, transgender, intergender. Frankly, I don’t care. And nor do the majority of the buying public. We just care about finding wines we like, hearing stories which engage, and meeting some awesome people.

I would rather the First Families had not retweeted that link. It has the air of kindergarten politics about it. It is vaguely mean, for a reason it fails to comprehensively elucidate. And nasty? It’s not a good colour on anyone, or on any industry. I understand that both parties probably chose to see the link between their women and being fabulous, but the remainder of the text is shrill, and denigrates the work and lives of the men in that room.

And that is not only unfair, but utterly uncalled for behaviour.

I am proud to be a part of the wine industry. Regardless of which bits I have. I have fond memories of some brilliant people in our game who have inspired me.

This is not one of those memories.

I think I have said this before: play nice. A cohesive industry will have a stronger voice than the one playing nasty games. I know which side I am on.

** I saw a Wine Australia retweet of the link at the time. That is either no longer there, or I have completely lost my mind. As such I have amended the post to reflect this.


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