Hard liquor has always been a "man's drink" until now. Female celebrities like Mila Kunis are proving that "brown drinks" like bourbon can be for women, too. Is it empowering to see women drinkers in commercials or are liquor companies commercializing feminism?
How Women Are Now the New Face of Liquor
Mila Kunis has become the face of Jim Beam bourbon whiskey since 2014. The Bad Moms star revealed how she became a brand ambassador for Jim Beam.
“My gateway was a very smoky scotch,” Kunis told reporters at an event to promote Jim Beam. “I stumbled into bourbon, and I was like ‘well this is damn great.’” She now sells drinks that cater to women, especially flavored bourbon.
She also explained how the drink is a favorite for her and her husband, Ashton Kutcher. "In my house bourbon goes with everything. My husband will say, ‘I’ll have this with lasagna.’ A good steak and bourbon go really well together, but so does a really nice salad. I think bourbon amplifies any meal that you’re having,” said Kunis.
Another female celebrity who's teaming with a liquor company is Janelle Monáe. The singer and actress is working with Belvedere Vodka to showcase female directors of films.
“When I sat down with Belvedere and we talked about the initiatives I wanted to get off the ground and what they were working on, it was clear that we had a shared vision about uplifting women, about giving opportunities to women,” said Monáe.
Johnny Walker also wanted to cater to female consumers by featuring a woman on the cover of its iconic bottle for the first time. Jane Walker was created for Women's History Month to celebrate women whiskey drinkers.
“Important conversations about gender continue to be at the forefront of culture and we strongly believe there is no better time than now to introduce our Jane Walker icon and contribute to pioneering organizations that share our mission,” said Stephanie Jacoby, vice president of Johnnie Walker. “We are proud to toast the many achievements of women and everyone on the journey towards progress in gender equality.”
How Women Drinking More Liquor Can Cause a Problem
While some see women drinking more hard liquor as empowerment and a personal choice, other women see alcohol companies as cynically using feminism to sell spirits. Kristina Sperkova, a writer for the temperance organization, IOGT, wrote about the dangerous message that liquor companies can send to women. She noted statistics that said that binge drinking is increasing among women.
She also wrote that women could be in danger of being attacked by men if they drink an excessive amount of alcohol. Sperkova noted that the patriarchal act of men preying on women when they drink is ignored by alcohol companies.
Jean Kilbourne, a feminist cultural critic, also noted that the rampant sexism of alcohol ads in the past makes it difficult to believe that liquor companies care about feminism and empowering women.
"It is difficult to be healthy and to raise healthy children in a toxic cultural environment, an environment that surrounds us with unhealthy images and that constantly sacrifices our health and our sense of well-being for the sake of profit,” said Kilbourne.
Balance is Needed When Women Drink Hard Liquor
Whether women indulge in spirits or refrain from drinking, alcohol companies should take action to target women as customers and act responsibly to empower women to make wise choices. Women do have the autonomy to drink whatever they want, but feminism is not just about freedom to drink: there is also a need for responsibility to confront the sexist culture that keeps them from being safe while drinking as well. Hopefully, the female celebrities endorsing alcohol will lead programs to help women lift a glass and maintain good health.