(Beer) girls on film

Emmie Harrison-West looks at the beer-guzzling women of the big screen, and doesn’t like what she sees

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“I want a guy who can play 36 holes of golf, and still have enough energy to take me to a baseball game, and eat hotdogs. I'm talking sausage hotdogs and beer. Not lite beer, but beer,” Cameron Diaz burps as Mary Jensen in There's Something About Mary, while her friends beside her pick at salads.

In the iconic film, Diaz isn't like other girls. She's a cool girl. A tomboy, who's funny, eats wings (though never gains weight), and wears minimal make-up. She likes sex (but isn't promiscuous), belches, watches ‘the game’, and drinks beer. Real beer. The ultimate 'dream girl'. She's practically perfect, because she acts just like a man.

She's the straight-talking white woman who wants a casual relationship with dorky, socially-awkward men who don't get laid that often. The truth is, though, that girl doesn't exist – she's been made up by men. She's the girl men want to share a pint with, and have all their friends fantasise about.

PHOTO: There's Something About Mary 1998 © 20th Century Studios

Come to think of it, these beer-loving girls on film are all the same, and there's plenty of them. The girls who are naturally beautiful, in a weird, quirky way; shun cocktails and brunch with girlfriends for fries and Bud in her pants, gets too tipsy and reveals all about her lesbian experience in high school.

There’s Mila Kunis in Friends With Benefits, who’s ‘too damaged to date’ and has casual sex with her male BFF after guzzling bottles of beer in her undies. As well as Robin from How I Met Your Mother, who would ruffle your hair and punch your shoulder while her team scored, spilling her pint everywhere, but still look great in lingerie, insisting she wants a no-strings relationship. 

Not to forget the 'cool' female protagonists in other films like Drinking Buddies, and How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days. The emotionally unavailable, casual sex-seekers who are often put alongside an uglier, unhappily married female character, who’s prissy, obsessive and repressed.

PHOTO: Friends with Benefits 2011 © Sony Pictures

Who can forget the blissfully silent Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow in Avengers, too? She’s often seen drinking a cold one in obscenely tight pants with the boys after a hard day's work. The kindly woman who walks behind men, offering snippets of wisdom, turns up at the right time in her fast car and sunglasses while she smiles at her vulnerable comrades.

They’re not needy, or too feminine, and often the impulsive, supportive token female figure who never complains about her uneven footing with men. Because, despite having enough ‘masculine’ traits to be non-threatening, these cool girls aren’t equal to their male counterparts. They keep silent, while looking pretty – complete with a beer in hand.

PHOTO: How I Met Your Mother 2005 © CBS

Lucy Buglass, film critic and senior writer at What to Watch, says: “Characters like these embody stereotypically masculine traits and position the woman as ‘one of the boys’, so they're tailored to be appealing towards men, but actually end up doing the opposite a lot of the time, and can be perceived as a little strange or an outcast.”

As Buglass claims, these so-called ‘cool girls’ in films are essentially a harmful reincarnation of men that reinforce male stereotypes; these women want the wrong, ‘broken’ sort of men that society has tossed aside (often for a good reason).

PHOTO: Drinking Buddies 2013 © Magnolia Pictures

“I know he's a little different, but that's what I like about him,” Diaz says of the lead male protagonist in There’s Something About Mary. “He dresses like a complete dork, he chews with his mouth open, he hardly ever says the right thing, and probably farts, too.” Mary is so perfect that she’s even willing to forgo her own worth by choosing someone who dresses badly, talks shit and shuns basic social etiquette.

Sorry boys, but this cool girl doesn't exist. The thin, junk food-loving hottie, who drinks beer and likes sports is instead the epitome of what a man thinks the ideal woman should be. It’s why some men (and women) are so threatened by girls that drink beer. 

PHOTO: Black Widow 221 © Walt Disney Studios

Ultimately, the beer-drinking cool girl is a myth created by men, implying that it’s great for women to be goofy, and enjoy traditionally masculine activities like downing pints, but, according to male ideals, she has to be hot and white. 

“I think it's quite a cliche, negative way of representing a person, as these characters don't exist in real life,” Buglass says. “It's suggesting that being into sports and drinking beer is an inherently bad and ‘weird’ thing that only boys do, which alienates a lot of audiences. It's incredibly unrealistic and can often be damaging to young women who may feel they should behave in this way and emphasise these traits to impress men and stop being so ‘girly’.” 

Truthfully, we've never seen ourselves on telly drinking beer, either, have we ladies? We've never seen women who aren’t white or straight, have curves, funny voices and frizzy hair; who are socially-awkward, get the rounds in and don't go to bed with their mates. So is it any wonder that the perception of women drinking beer is so skewed? 

PHOTO: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days 2003 © Paramount Pictures

Thankfully, there has been a shift when it comes to women in beer lately. The fact that this story exists is because people (including men) are more open to having these conversations when it comes to a male-dominated industry – from female brewers in the industry, to its consumers, voices are starting to be heard. 

Well, we're here to stay – and for our own good, at that. To be loud, smash the stereotypes of female drinkers, and drink beer. Real beer (and maybe with a side of chips, for good measure).

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