Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Well, what’s wrong with being sexy?

So now you know.

Our motion about sexism in the beer industry for the CAMRA AGM – many thanks again to all the people who commented and helped develop it – was rejected by the conference procedures committee on the grounds, basically, that everything we were proposing was already CAMRA policy and/or the law of the land.

It’s good that our main points are uncontentious, but as the point of bringing a motion to the AGM was to raise the profile of the issue, I am a bit disappointed that it will not be on the order paper there.

I have appealed the decision, but do not expect anything to come of it.

It would have been nice if CAMRA had taken the opportunity to have headlines reading “CAMRA raises call for fight against beer sexism” rather than “CAMRA issues sexist leaflet”.

But what do I know? I wasn’t the marketing genius who came up with this:

“If you don’t like it, submit a motion to conference,” is what gripers are always told. Well, it’s not as simple as that and perhaps we were naïve. You also need people who know CAMRA’s decision-making set-up and procedures inside out, just as you wouldn’t represent yourself in court or try to get legislation passed without professional advice.

However, next year’s motion is already written and much more concise, so I hope for more success. Here is the full text:

“Conference instructs the National Executive to read the existing equality policy.”


  1. maybe "read and implement" ? if you don't want to be back the year after that.

  2. Fing is, leaflet aside, most of the sexism is happening at branch level. All those cringe-making stories about stuff that happened at festivals happened at the branch level, and the NE doesn't have an enforcement unit making sure the branches adhere to central policy. If I were a member, I'd see it as my job to challenge unacceptable behaviours within my own branch rather than trying to get the NE to do it for me.

    And as to the leaflet: CAMRA, officially, doesn't think it's sexist. It is sorry that people found it offensive, but the implication is that it reckons it's OK, really. Frankly I'm a little surprised it didn't brazen it out and refuse to withdraw it. Surely in a situation like this you either say: "D'oh! You're right! It was a mistake and we're sorry" or you say "Actually we think it's fun and cool and fits the message we want to communicate to that particular audience, so we're sticking to our guns here, thanks for your opinion." Saying "we're sorry you don't like it" and then withdrawing it is an odd approach.

    Anyhoo, kudos to all involved in keeping this issue alive. I don't think there's an alternative to just keeping challenging and fighting.

  3. Maybe it was the revision process that turned the 'shall's into 'may's that did it. Branches may keep a register of pubs where women feel uncomfortable; they may keep a register of pubs where the landlord's a brother Mason, or pubs with a cat named Tiddles. Up to them.

  4. Robbie, you have my utmost respect for continuing your attempts to get a sea change from CAMRA in general on this - I know I, and everyone else who takes a stand against this nonsense, really appreciates that we've gone from a few voices in the wilderness to a chorus.

  5. The problem was it was so last minute that it couldn't be transformed into something more meaningful and therefore likely to get on the order paper in time. I think there is still legs in it, but it has to be crafted (no pun intended) a lot more carefully.

    Despite my own motions including actual instructions, mine failed too. We need to be smarter, but there will be opportunities to speak out at the weekend which I'll be looking to take.

  6. I’m inclined to agree with both Beer Nut and Phil – if we'd made it "branches MUST" do this or that, it would be a policy change and therefore debatable – but also in danger of being defeated. Imagine the headlines then: "CAMRA refuses to fight sexism" etc. Now it’s up to grass roots work for culture change.

    Also very pleased to see that Protzy has given Melissa a guest column on this subject: http://protzonbeer.co.uk/columns/2015/04/15/time-for-brewers-to-kill-sexist-images