BREWHAHA: Fulbright-Winning Feminist Says Alaska Beer Promotes ‘Rape Culture’

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 4:24 pm, October 19, 2016
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An award-winning craft beer created and named by a woman is actually “rape culture,” a Fulbright scholar has claimed.

Barb Miller, co-founder of the Anchorage-based Midnight Sun Brewing Co., said she chose the “Panty Peeler” name for her brew to be playful and eye-catching. She describes her brewery as “consensual sex-positive.” And she says her marketing team carefully chose the logo—a naked woman riding a caribou like Lady Godiva—as an empowering image.

“Just because someone’s nude doesn’t mean they want to be raped,” Miller said. “This woman is free-spirited, in control of her body and her situation, and her thing is going out and being adventurous and having fun—and that’s what it should be. Life should be about that.”

But three weeks ago, Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, a writer and current Fulbright recipient, saw the beer’s label and name and took offense. She noted that a recent Thrillist article had also named the Panty Peeler on its list of the 13 most sexist names and labels in craft beers. And she even tweeted at the Can Can awards, a prestigious competition for canned beers, which had recently awarded top honors to the Panty Peeler.

Several local news outlets covered O’Donnell’s allegations, and since then, Miller says, she’s had to defend her name choice. She’s even worried about the impact on her business.

“I’m very much so concerned,” Miller says. “I never wanted this beer to be associated with rape. That’s why we designed this label this way. We looked at a lot of design concepts, and we were being really careful to disassociate this with date rape. We used the name, I thought, in a fun way. … You can tell by the label that we weren’t promoting, ‘Hey, Baby, come get me.’ It’s a woman being free.”

Miller notes that another one of her beers, the Pleasure Town IPA, features a nude man riding a moose (which, by the way, is an Anchorman reference). That one hasn’t garnered any complaints.

But Miller says she’s not changing the Panty Peeler’s name or logo—in part, because her female consumers love it. On social media, she says, women who enjoy the beer have begun posting it on their own adventures.