women brewers

A very widespread impression exists that all medieval women were downtrodden slaves, apart from a few great ladies, but this was only true up to a point.  It was certainly not the case with well-to-do females of Jane [Shore]’s class, especially if they had a strong character.  Middle-class girls usually received some sort of formal education, even if they could not attend the grammar schools.  They at least went to elementary schools or else were given private tuition, being taught to read and write, together with a little Latin and French, and perhaps a smattering of English Law… A woman might take an active part in trade if she wished, acquiring the legal status of ‘femme sole’, which enabled her to do business on her own account, and even to take apprentices; there were women brewers, women corn-merchants and, above all, women silk-weavers.  However, they were the exception rather than the rule, their activities generally stemming from surplus energy rather than any need to supplement the family budget.
—  “The Wars of the Roses” Desmond Seward

“During the medieval era when witch hunting was rife, hundreds of women were accused of witchcraft and executed. Many of those women were brewers. The visual motifs we associate with female witches date from this time. The extraordinary thing is all of them - cat, bubbling cauldron, broom, pointed hat - are also symbols associated with brewing beer.

A cat would keep vermin at bay that would otherwise eat the malted barley; the bubbling cauldron is the vessel in which the ingredients are boiled. When the brew cools down, yeast lands on it and ferments the sugars, creating a dramatic froth. The broom was used for sweeping up but also by law, anyone selling beer was required to display an ale stake above their door as a sign that beer was on sale. An ale stake was a wooden pole with a bunch of twigs tied on the end. It doubled as a broom. Hanging foliage above the door to proclaim that alcohol was available for purchase dates back to Roman Britain. In a society where most people were illiterate, visual signs rather than written signs were used. The pointy hat was a practical way of being seen. Women with surplus beer would go to the marketplace to try and sell it, or a middle woman known as a huckster would act as an agent and flog the beer. They wore the pointed hats to make themselves prominent in a crowd.

So everything associated with a cartoon witch is actually the semiology connected with a female brewer in the middle ages. Some academics argue that women were accused of witchcraft so that others could profit from the local beer production. It was very rare that a woman accused of being a witch escaped with her life.”

From Women and Beer by Jane Peyton

Where would this country be if it weren’t for bathtub alcohol?
—  white woman, in Boulder, at the Bitter Bar

‘American Horror Story’s Jamie Brewer just became the first woman with Down syndrome to walk the NYFW runway! 

Jamie Brewer graced the crowd at designer Carrie Hammer’s runway show during the Mercedes-Benz-sponsored event. The actress is the latest member of the designer’s campaign, “Role Models Not Runway Models,” which aims to highlight powerful, inspiring and exemplary women — not necessarily models — in her shows.

Brewer’s inclusion is a milestone in many ways

anonymous asked:

"you cant abolish misogyny without abolishing capitalism." in what way?

Well, I think this is the case for two primary reasons which are:

  1. That patriarchy and the subordination of women are required by capitalism.
  2. The actual emancipation of all women is impossible within the confines of capitalism.

These two things are intimately linked. I am going to give a brief overview of the arguments and provide some stuff to read if you want to go deeper.

Firstly. Capitalism is not simply a system of trade and exchange. Fundamentally it is a system of production and distribution, and one which uses as its basis the exploitation of wage labour. Human labour is the only commodity one can purchase that will increase value, it will actually make more than what you bought it for. Because of this, wage labour under capitalism is inherently exploitative. In order to increase their profits, the bosses wish to push down the price of labour. This is where sexism amongst the working class and in society as a whole comes can be used. By dividing the working class, the capitalists can easily place women workers on lower wages, driving down the price of labour in general by undermining working conditions. So firstly, sexism is a tactic of divide and rule that stretches far back into the history of capitalism. In fact, authors like Sylvia Federici trace this tactic of the ruling class back to its inception.

However, to stop here would make my analysis superficial. It goes deeper than that. Not only does capitalism need extensive amounts of exploitative wage labour to exist, it also need enormous amounts of unpaid labour. This labour, while not directly producing commodities, is part of a process that reproduces the conditions under which commodities are produced. Whether it is caring for children, doing the laundry, basic education and healthcare, these are all absolutely essential parts of the reproduction of society, these are unpaid. It is essential for the capitalists that they don’t have to pay for this work, because that would make a massive dent in their profit margins.

It is because of this enormous amount of unpaid labour that patriarchy is so essential to capitalism. By keeping women subordinated and doing “women’s work” which is not socially recognised and unpaid, systems of patriarchal power enhance and empower the capitalist class. Even when this work is paid, it is systematically underpaid and the workers are regularly mistreated.

For more on this topic, I suggest reading “The Caliban and the Witch” and “Revolution at Point Zero” by Sylvia Federici, “The Dispossession of Women” by Pat Brewer and “Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Towards a Unitary Theory” by Lise Vogel. Also, there are incredible articles like this one by Kavita Krishnan.

Okay, so now the second half of the question. If we accept that the oppression of women is not only ideological and cultural, but it is social, political, economic and structural. And not only that, but it is bound up and intersects with racism, the oppression of sexual and gender minorities, imperialism, colonialism and as I argued previously, the oppression of the working classes. If these things are the case, is it at all possible to imagine the emancipation of all women without the abolition of capitalism?

If it possible to imagine equality of pay and conditions, the abolition of sexual violence and rape, the institution of free and compulsory sexual education, the socialisation of housework, free and universal childcare or any of these things without a fundamental transformation of the manner in which power and wealth is distributed.

I argue that such things would be impossible, that the laws of capitalist accumulation would simply not allow it.

It is not coincidence that some of the greatest attacks on women’s rights are coming in a period when neo-liberal economics are placing more power into the hands of capital and stripping away all elements of the social-democratic welfare state.

No women’s liberation without socialism, no socialism without women’s liberation!


Adrianna + Sarah get a little controversial on this week’s episode of Pillow Talk!

In ancient times, farmers worried about losing precious grain to spoilage during wet winters. So they figured out how to malt grain and brew it into beer, thus preserving a nutritious source of calories. In The Comic Book Story of Beer, due out in September, we get a graphical tour of such pivotal moments — from the cradle of agriculture to the modern-day craft beer heyday.

Illustrator Aaron McConnell, writer Jonathan Hennessey and professional brewer Mike Smith cover a lot of ground in 173 pages. We learn that in ancient Rome, women were the brewers, and their homes became popular hangout spots – the first pub houses, really. The covered beer stein was invented during the Black Death, when piles of bodies on the streets attracted flies and it was necessary to keep swarms of them out of drinks. Lagers were meanwhile born of a 19th-century act of industrial espionage.

Guzzling 9,000 Years Of History With ‘The Comic Book Story Of Beer’

Image credit: Random House