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Drink Like a Girl: How Women Are Flipping the Script on ‘Male’ Drinks Spaces

Image Courtesy of Dorothy Wang

Mallory O’Meara, author of Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol, contends that all drinks are “girly” because women have always been the backbone of the alcohol industry. But it’s impossible to ignore, she says, the strong correlation between a culture’s female drinking norms and the freedoms that culture affords women. 

“If you want to know how a society treats its women, all you have to do is look into the bottom of a glass,” O’Meara writes. Translation: A society that imposes strict rules on a woman’s drinking is also likely to oppress those women.

Consider that some bars in America prohibited unaccompanied women until as late as the 1970s. Bars were the “last stronghold of masculinity,” writes historian Georgina Hickey in the journal Feminist Studies. Even today, the male hold over many drinking spaces remains strong.

But, slowly, such walls seem to be crumbling, one brick at a time. However, women in the beverage industry know all too well that it takes more than a few bricks to bring the whole thing down.

Image Courtesy of Dorothy Wang

Flipping the Script on Historically Male Spaces

Jenny Nguyen, the owner of The Sports Bra in Portland, Oregon, exemplifies how the drinking landscape’s future really is female. Since the Sports Bra’s opening in 2022, Nguyen has redefined the American sports bar by putting women front and center. 

Like any sports bar, The Sports Bra features numerous televisions broadcasting sports, but with one major difference: The games shown here feature exclusively female athletes. To Nguyen’s knowledge, it’s the only sports bar of its kind in America dedicating its T.V. time to women’s sports.

“I never intended to redefine anything,” Nguyen says. “I wanted it to feel very traditional in that way, but to just make these tiny little changes that, to me, make all the difference.”