Not so long ago… in the merry old land of Oz…
If you follow cricket there is a chance that you know what the term “Beer Wenches” means. If you are familiar with Australian cricket fans then you almost certainly know what it is all about. I heard something about this on the radio the other day and was fascinated. So here’s what I found…
As recently as 2003, Australian cricket fans could hire young girls – usually dressed in not much more than a bikini – to serve them beer during the big games. Only 20 years ago. Incredible eh? Yes, this fits in nicely with the stereotypical view of the Aussie male. But so what? Read on…
Of course this would have been in the height of the summer so the clothing would actually be appropriate. Many of the fans (both male and female) would themselves be wearing very little. But the fact that this whole thing seems almost made up – even to me, the virtually unshockable old dad – tells its own story. Times have really changed. But far more recently than you might think. Only in Australia eh…
Who were the Beer Wenches?
Back in the 1970s drinking at cricket matches got out of hand and authorities tried to curb the amount of booze being consumed in the stadiums. First (in the 1980s) they limited how much booze you could take in to the stadiums then (by the 90s) they banned it so you had to buy beers from the site bars. But even then it seemed fans were drinking too much and getting too raucous.
Amazingly people did not want to wait at the busy bars to get their drinks. So in the first years of this century some decided to hire girls – the ‘beer wenches’ – to fetch their drinks all day.
Companies quickly sprang up providing suitable ‘beer wenches’ to fill the increasing demand. Who doesn’t like a bit of free-market capitalism eh? The long-since-gone beerwench.com website promoted their company offering ‘only of the bubbliest of girls which fit the persona of a beer wench’. They also insisted that sexual harassment would not be tolerated.
‘Our clients tend to be sportsmen driven by his passion to watch their favourite team equalled by his desire to be served by the loveliest of ladies, and of course drinking the finest of cold beers,’ the website said.
That’s not just classic Aussie cheek. That’s typical bloke banter – anywhere on the planet. Another beer wench provider – Sex Bomb Promotions – claimed that all of their girls had been properly trained in the responsible service of alcohol. No substitute for good training I say.
Usually the ‘beer wenches’ were back-packers. The sort of student aged, transient work force that used to do all kinds of menial jobs in Australia; and still does. Many beer wenches were earning over $60 per hour for a 4 hour shift. Not bad money at all for what is basically unskilled bar work. I guess they also got to watch some live cricket in between waiting at the bars. Probably even sneaking in a few free (or paid for) drinks too. So just who was being exploited in this scenario?
What a great idea I say. But of course it wasn’t long before the usual suspects began to complain, for various reasons, and by January 2004 the beer wenches were gone. The killjoys had won (again LOL). A very short lived, but interesting period in Aussie cricket.
Yeah. I hear the cries of “sexism” and “male chauvinism” from the feminists; the do-gooders; the haven’t-got-a-cluers (yeah I made that one up). But I just think some people need to lighten up. Let’s try and put it all into perspective…
In fact it can’t really be much different from the girls you see at the side of the ubiquitous roadworks, holding up the Stop/Go signs for the traffic. All while their male colleagues do the “manly, hard work” (or not as the case may be!). That must be as boring as hell but they do it; dressed in their mandatory protective work clothing complete with hard hats and high
heels visibility vests. I wonder are they earning as much as the beer wenches were 20 years ago? I also wonder how those jobs are advertised?
Wanted: Road workers. Willing to stand for hours on end directing traffic. Must be able to flip a double-sided sign when required. Plenty of spare time in between flipping to mess about on your mobile phone. No need to get your hands dirty on the actual roadworks (the men will do that part). Protective clothing will be provided. No bikinis allowed. Females only need apply.
Yeah that would about do it. Seriously. Is that any less (or more) sexist than advertising for, or working as a ‘beer wench’? I don’t think so particularly, but you see these girls at just about every roadworks. Certainly in Sydney.
Here’s a good question: How many of them would prefer to walk around half naked serving beer in the sunshine instead of hanging around sweating in protective work clothing? I am willing to bet most of them. Even those who don’t like cricket.
Other Similar Work?
You can also compare it to serving beers or coffees in a pub or restaurant. Is that any less degrading? Does it pay as much as being a ‘beer wench’? I have no idea. But at least the ‘beer wenches’ were outdoors (mostly), getting a tan – a pre-requisite for many back-packer labourers. And presumably getting to see a fair amount of the cricket. Maybe an ideal job for female cricket fans? Also by the end of the day when your clients were almost certainly drunk I bet they also got some very generous (drunken) tips.
I’m sure the last time I watched the IPL (Indian Premier League) cricket there were scantily dressed cheerleaders on the pitch. Such (mostly) female groups of paid fans appear in plenty of stadiums around the world for all types of sport.
So I ask again: Would you object to seeing/working as a ‘beer wench’ at the cricket this summer? Is it all just harmless fun? I will let you decide. Please tell me with some comments.
I just see the funny side of all of it. All the while ruing the fact that I missed out on a good day at the cricket back in 2003. But then again I am from a generation where none of that stuff ever really mattered. Everyone just seemed to get on with things without needing others to interfere on their behalf. Those days I thought were long gone. But it seems they only left us less than 20 years ago, back in 2004. Now that, I really do find amazing…
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