A Schooling in Wine Writing And Gender
I’ve heard it said that where winemaking is concerned, women may have an advantage either because they may have a more acute palate or because they are more natural nurturers. I don’t know. It’s an intriguing and not altogether outlandish set of ideas.
However, I’m wondering if there is such a substantial difference between male wine writers and female wine writers that it is important that we read, listen to, or observe or both in order to get a full rendering of what it means to be a good writer?
This is what occurred to me as I read these two criticisms about a specific panel at the recent Wine Bloggers Conference
“First of all, I couldn’t help but notice the complete lack of diversity when assessing the panel members. Though the panel was moderated by an awesome woman, the actual panel consisted of just three older, white, men who are traditional print journalists…. Okay. But, they were speaking to an audience of wine bloggers. Many of whom were women. Many were younger. And several of whom were not Caucasian.”
MARY CRESSLER, Vindulge Blog
“Despite blogger participant diversity, the WBC seminars and keynote speakers continue to feature grand-fatherly white male traditional print writers as the only “true experts” to whom we should aspire.”
AMY CORRON POWER, Another Wine Blog
These are two fine writers and bloggers, but it is interesting to me that if I did not know they were women and if they did not hint at it, I would probably be unable to come to that conclusion by reading their writings on wine. But maybe that’s a problem with my own powers of perception.
So, I wonder what it is about maleness that makes them somewhat unsuited to offer observations about writing and blogging to women bloggers? Or maybe it’s a case of women having such a unique perspective from men that it is necessary to pair women with men on any panel that hopes to offer a complete or near complete perspective on the topic of writing and wine blogging.
Then there is this question: If you had a Caucasian woman, an Hispanic male, a black man and a woman of Chinese dissent, all from the same general economic class and all from Topeka Kansas on a panel to discuss the quality and character of the 2000 Chateau Haut Brion, would you get four unique perspectives because the four participants were a Caucasian woman, an Hispanic male, a black man and a woman from of Chinese descent?
Here’s an interesting experiment: Have these four wine writers each pen a review of the 2000 Chateau Haut Brion then everyone else try to guess which person wrote which review.
Or maybe the issue is one of fairness, simple fairness; proportionality if you will. If that’s the issue, then that I understand, even if I don’t agree. However, If proportionality is to be the goal, then it would make sense to not only take stock of the proportion of men to women in the audience before composing a panel at a wine bloggers conference, but also the proportion of gays to straights, and of the different ethnicities in the room. I think we’re going to need a bigger panel.
I suppose the two complaints noted above as well as from others could come down to some adult women in the audience being able to find more inspiration by looking at people on a panel who look somewhat similar to themselves. If this were the case I’d not hold it against them. I just don’t understand it. At past Wine Bloggers Conferences I’ve found tremendous inspiration by listening to and watching Lettie Teague and Jancis Robinson. And I’m a male.
Still, I come back to this question: Is there such a substantial difference between male wine writers and female wine writers that it is important that we read, listen to or observe both in order to get a full rendering of what it means to be a good writer?
I’m willing to be schooled on this question by considered thoughts and ideas. I’m willing to be convinced that as a male, I need to be exposed to male writers and male publicists in order to be properly inspired. I’m willing to be convinced that in order to be a better writer, I need to be exposed to insights that are unique to women and inaccessible to men.