We’re very pleased to feature a guest blogger, Louise Brown, for the first time. She will tell you about the latest Ladies of Darkness beer brewed for International Womens Day which we will be launching on Saturday 5th March at 5pm.
As happens with most beers I’m involved in, it started with a cake. This time it was the Sara Lee Double Chocolate Gateau which, when I was younger, embodied what it meant to be a good hostess. The reason our brew for IWD2022 started with this cake was due to a discussion about the prevalence of self-improvement rhetoric in the media, particularly the gendered nature of much of it.
We discussed how many of these products and services are sold to us as a way to achieve a ‘better’ version of ourselves, which often means one that conforms to patriarchal standards of beauty, and notions of worth based on an arbitrary, hierarchical system of privilege. As if buying a certain thing could change the core of who we are. This made me think of the Sara Lee Double Chocolate Gateau of my childhood that, for me, stood in for what it meant to be a successful wife and mother, something that at the time I assumed was part of being a successful adult woman.
Luckily these days I know better than this and, despite choosing to be a wife and parent, I (mostly) no longer feel that my worth resides in how well I perform these roles based on an outdated system. So why is our beer based on a cake that is associated with these archaic structures, which can be so damaging to all of us?
The short answer is because we really like chocolate cake.
Which in and of itself is a good enough answer.
However, there is slightly more to it, for those that are interested. It’s because we want to disrupt this unhelpful system by bringing together parts of it that are not (traditionally) seen as compatible. By using this cake that stands in for a traditional ideal of feminine identity and taking it into what is (wrongly) thought of as a traditional masculine space so we can make something delicious that can be enjoyed by our diverse community, we begin to subvert a system that is not fit for purpose.
The reason the Ladies of Darkness exists is because Sean and Jacqui have created a space where everyone is welcome. They encourage us to take up space and value our voices for what they bring to the community. Not only is Tom’s Tap where we met, but for some of us, it is where we found a level of acceptance that we had rarely felt before, which turned into the confidence to take up more space in other places too. Which is why two and a half years ago a group of new friends ended up a little bit tipsy on a train home from Manchester and the Ladies of Darkness (or at least our twitter account) was created.
This is our 3rd IWD beer and it, like us, exists because Sean and Jacqui decided to buy a brewery tap in Crewe and make it into a community.