CAMRA must take action on sexism

By Robyn Black

- Last updated on GMT

Sexism storm: CAMRA's withdrawn leaflet sent to young members for distribution at university freshers fairs
Sexism storm: CAMRA's withdrawn leaflet sent to young members for distribution at university freshers fairs

Related tags: Pint glass, Public house

Despite spending almost my entire career as a champion of beer and pubs I am not, nor ever have been, a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA).

Let me tell you why.

Our industry has a troubled relationship with female beer drinkers.

I haven’t got the space to list all the transgressions here but, suffice to say, Buzzfeed has a feature on its site entitled ‘13 of the most sexist beer ads of all time’.

How does that make you feel about the trade?

Yet CAMRA, the nation’s supposed advocate of beer and pubs, does worse than nothing.

It offers tacit approval by allowing misogynistic pump clips at its festivals; it promotes the breweries behind them in its publications; and it sees fit to sign off on recruitment flyers for young members that so obviously objectify women, they must have been recycled from an original 1950s batch.

Except they weren’t.

So I am delighted to see blogger and CAMRA member Robbie Pickering submit a motion for the campaign group’s AGM in April.

It states that: "CAMRA needs to step up and show, through action, that it is on the side of equality." 

It’s about bloody time.

Unbelievably, there will still be some who will oppose the motion, so let me use this opportunity to clarify why it must be passed.


The beer industry needs to grow and to do that it needs more women to drink more beer. Face facts: breasts on beer taps, sniggered over by a bunch of leering men, are shutting out a potentially lucrative market.


CAMRA needs to protect its revenue streams. The craft beer revolution is providing a more inclusive scene for a younger and more diverse crowd of beer fans, if CAMRA wants to survive, it must be seen to act on the issues that matter to those people.


Just because you know some female CAMRA member, or lady beer fan, who is not bothered by such issues, it does not mean this is a storm in a feminist brassiere cup (yes, we wear them these days).

Let me be absolutely clear, if you are not offended, it does not mean others feel likewise.

Finally, in a bid to pre-empt all the comments and trolling I will get when this is published, let me say this: no it is not the same as (the theoretical situation of) a chap walking into a bar and seeing a half-naked man and a bad pun on a poster.

Middle-aged, middle-class white men have not experienced millennia of discrimination; centuries of being judged on appearance alone; a lifetime of doing the same job as a man for £100 less per week on average, and decades of being patronised by bar staff who still serve the glass of wine to me and the pint of beer to my husband.

Until such a time — which we can only hope is April — that CAMRA makes a stand against all this, I cannot, in any good conscious, pay my dues.

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Diet Coke anyone?

Posted by David Pott,

Obviously that wasn't a sexist advertising campaign in the eyes of female Guardian readers.

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Posted by Mike Coleman,

I only came in for a beer....

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what next

Posted by Trade Stalwart,

So after Robyn et al have de-sexed the on-trade to an acceptable level (Portman group have been at it for years in the off trade and advertising so we take it they have no issue with the pump clips mentioned in the article?) will this campaign move onto the car shows, all those elegant and lovely ladies posing by the side of the newest Merc or Lambo? I think you're looking for offense here, the images are for the target group aspirational and glamorous i heard CAMRA had done market research and these images were approved by the women focus group appointed in the dry run. The sisterhood is alive and kicking (each other) it would seem.

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