Thomas Rowson questions social stigmas behind beverage choices
Last week, I wore my incredibly pink trousers on campus. You may have seen them. They are hard to miss. What I found quite surprising was the number of weird looks I got for them. They didn’t go unnoticed in the Rebel office either, to the extent that we even had to have a vote on them at our meeting (95% approval rating, btw).
Why is it that society says that men should all wear black or blue trousers? Why not add a bit of colour? Why can’t I wear my purple trousers that look like I have caught, killed, and skinned Barney the Dinosaur? It got me thinking about the norms of society, and like most of my thoughts, this one ended up in the pub. As did I.
“Why can’t I wear my purple trousers that look like I have caught, killed and skinned Barney the Dinosaur?”
There’s a particular place in town of which I am rather fond; the Church Street Tavern. It’s everything that I am: sophisticated, charming, old-worldly yet still cosmopolitan, classy (okay, you can stop laughing now). What I like most though, is that I can go there for a glass of wine, in my bright trousers, and not feel judged. There aren’t many places like it. Somehow society remains to look at men drinking wine in pubs in a very judgemental way.
We still appear to be living in the past. In days gone by, when a man had finished his day’s work down the mine, he would head off to the pub for a pint of beer. Good, proper ale with twigs in it; an honest drink that he would enjoy, still covered in soot and wearing his overalls, in a glass jug with a handle on it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good pint of real ale. I also enjoy a good lager, or cider, or stout, or gin, or vodka, or really anything that isn’t sambuca. But my favourite is wine. I don’t see why I should be judged for drinking it in the pub. Whiskey, apparently, is fine; viognier is not.
But I’m not helping things. When I go to my local, which is a very traditional, country pub, I always have a beer. I don’t think I have ever had a glass of wine in there. I don’t even know if it has a wine list, which is normally the first thing I check when I go into an establishment, even if I’m not drinking. It somehow feels weird to order a glass of wine in Wetherspoons too. If I see a chap with a glass of pinot in there, I feel very jealous. I wish I had the confidence to do that.
I know that it isn’t just me. I’ve seen the wistful, longing looks in other men’s eyes as they take a peer at that cheeky merlot behind the bar, before turning back, disheartened and broken, to the pint of French lager they felt compelled to order. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I wanted to know more about these people in society, us secret wine drinkers, to see how deep-seated this issue is.
“I’ve seen the wistful, longing looks in other men’s eyes as they take a peer at that cheeky merlot behind the bar”
Like all modern people, to find out more about society, I asked Facebook. I learnt a lot. There does still seem to be a degree of it not being very vogue for a bloke to buy wine in a pub, unless he was in the company of a woman. Men don’t drink wine. Others told me that the only issue they would have is finding a pub that could provide you with a good glass, and that the rosé may well end up being a mix of red and white. But I was really pleased to see so many people telling me that they would have no problem with it, with one saying that it is ‘sad that the question even needs to be considered.’ I could not agree more. By far, my favourite response was from my friend who told me that only time she would look twice at a stranger at the bar was if he was hot, and not to do with his trousers or beverage.
So maybe we are starting to see a change. Perhaps wine is back on the menu for men. I think there is still a way to go, but maybe society is starting to grow up. We just need a few more people to go into their local watering hole and say ‘No, I don’t want a pint of that heady, hoppy ale. I’ll have a large chardonnay please!’. We are on the precipice of a social, drinking revolution and I love it.
Now if you need me, I’ll be in the pub, drinking rosé whilst wearing my rosé trousers. Cheers!