“Has your wife calmed down yet?”
So…Michigan’s first ever craft spirit festival happened! Even more exciting is that we were in attendance. Our company seemed to be well received, our booth was busy, and we met a lot of really awesome people. All in all this event was a complete success. So why has it taken me so darn long to write about it?! Well, I would like to say it is because I have been busy, but actually the last few weeks have slowed a bit, which has allowed me to do some human things, like eat three meals a day, shower on a regular basis, and sleep… glorious sleep. The truth is, I haven’t written about it because there was something fundamentally disappointing that I have had trouble shaking.
I have always been bull-headed, my mom is a good testament to this, and because of this I have always wanted to do things that perhaps I wasn’t cut out to do, simply because they existed. Sometimes I succeeded, more often I didn’t, but never in my life before has my gender been a factor that determined my fitness.
This industry has had so many challenges for myself and my husband, and in the past I have suspected that perhaps an unreturned phone call, an unanswered e-mail, or a snide remark may have been largely due to the fact that no one took us seriously. I never stopped to think that maybe they just didn’t take me seriously, a women. Even as I type this my face is screwed up in discomfort and the words come with difficulty. This shouldn’t matter, but the sad fact it… it does.
This was the rotten apple of the spirit festival for me, this one small thing. The fact that I was referred to as “your wife” more often than necessary, that distillation and technical questions were so often fielded to Nick… even after I had just answered another question… even after I was introduced as the company’s distiller. The fact that I was judged more on my mood and delivery of the information I was giving then the content was so disappointing.
This was by no means a uniform experience, I also met several intelligent, good-natured, and incredibly respectful people, and for this I am thankful. I made friendships that I hope will last a lifetime. I also suspect I made a few enemies, which is the cost of standing up for what you believe in, and worth it in order to create an industry environment to be proud of. I am thankful for all the other female distillers that have blazed the trail ahead of me, I hope I can keep that trend going and make them proud. I am also thankful for all the men in the industry that I have met that care more about what I put into a bottle, rather than what I’ve got between my legs. All in all, I suspect that this will all work out in my benefit, after all, it’s easy to be surprised by someone you underestimate.
9/29/2017 08:57:28 pm
Sexism is a nasty beast that rears its head usually in the moments we most look forward to, often times of great success. You are a badass. Pure and simple. Being a wife, nay a woman, is a gift, not a title or a placement behind another. You reign as the queen of a company you founded together, and for anyone to question your validity as an equally intelligent distiller in the business or to disregard the force that you are proves the severe lack of working brain cells in said offender. Keep rockin' it. I'll send Luca their way for a swift shot to what makes them inferior.
My great-grandmother, Zenobee Warnez, a Belgian immigrant who ruled her all-male family with a strong fist, made gin and wine in her bathtub for the wealthy in Detroit during prohibition. I like to think of her as being part of the Purple Gang. Her spirit lives in you. ✊️
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