The “I’m not drinking” issue

I recently found myself reading about a non-alcoholic beer being launched in Australia. I was fascinated because it reportedly uses a yeast strain that does not produce alcohol during fermentation like “normal” yeast. The beer nerd in me was curious so I did what any curious person today does, I Googled it. After a few minutes, because that’s the attention span now, I couldn’t find a lot of information so I hit up social media and asked a group of fellow beer geeks if they knew about this yeast that made non-alcoholic beer.

Within my question, I inserted the following sentence:

“FYI, it’s really annoying when, as a woman, you refuse a drink and someone instantly thinks you’re pregnant.”

I did this as a preemptive strike because, as almost any woman would know, as soon as you say the words “non-alcoholic” or “I’m not drinking”, someone will ask* if you are pregnant.

* Yes, making a joke about it is also considered asking.

One of my fellow beer geeks understood instantly, saying that when he and his wife purchased non-alcoholic beer, they scratch off the part of the label where it says “non-alcoholic” just to avoid comments and questions.

Of course, it’s not the most offensive thing about being a woman, especially in a male-dominated industry, but it is kinda annoying.  When a woman says she’s not drinking and you reply with “oh, is someone knocked up?” or point at her stomach with a dumb smile on your face, she is probably rolling her eyes and she might even feel a bit uncomfortable.

Not every woman who says no to a drink is pregnant, it’s not a white smoke moment for the whole group and it’s certainly not a guessing game.

This brings me to another issue, a bigger one, that if someone chooses not to drink, whether it’s that round, that night, that month or that lifetime, it shouldn’t be treated like a big deal.

“Oh, come ooooonnnn …”

“What? Are you driving?”

“Laaaame”

I have certainly been guilty of this. In fact, not that long ago, I continuously and enthusiastically used the word “tequila” as a question (“tequila???!!!”) to encourage a friend to stay at the pub and drink. In the morning I felt like a total jerk.

I have also been on the receiving end of this behaviour too and, on rare occasions, I have dumped a drink when the other person has been so relentlessly persistent that it just seemed easier to pretend I had the drink. Maybe it’s a hospitality industry thing, maybe it’s just our current culture and attitude towards alcohol, I am not going to speculate on the reasons why.  What I am doing is just saying that it is something I have been thinking about on and off for a while and that I have been trying to be more conscious of, to respect anyone’s decision to pass on a drink. “No, thanks, I’m not drinking” shouldn’t be followed by someone asking why.

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