St. Patrick's Day is a time of solemnity and Irish blessings. A time for corned beef and Guinness stew. A time to wear all of your green clothes. St. Patty's Day is, above all, a sacred moment to reflect on the glory and majesty of Ireland.
Okay, and maybe it’s also a day to share a pint or two.
The good people behind the marketing of Bud Light saw the revelry of the holiday beamed in through a high-powered green lantern and decided they, too, would make hay while the sun shines. But first, they needed a slogan, something that would effectively convey the high jinx and merriment of March 17th. This slogan would have to fit into a hash tag and it would also have to be edgy. Mostly, it would need to be exciting enough to make their fans either reach for a Bud Light from the fridge or order one from the nearest bartender.
And then, the minds behind @BudLight shared this little limerick yesterday:
"On #StPatricksDay you can pinch people who don’t wear green. You can also pinch people who aren’t #UpForWhatever”
I'm so frustrated that Bud Light used this tactic in the name of sales. You see, I've always operated under the notion that I'm an easygoing, low-key sort of woman. When it comes to arranging my social calendar, my friends and family know that I'm flexible with a change of locale or time when we're firming up plans. For me, it's not usually a big deal.
I've thrown around the words "I'm up for whatever" more than once in this context. Want to meet up for dinner instead of a movie? No problem! Want to skip the show and talk over coffee? Sounds great!So when I think of a phrase like "up for whatever," that's what I picture: someone who appears to be understanding and ready to go with the flow. Someone who realizes that things change. Someone who doesn't always care what the plans are — as long as it's time spent with good company.What I don't picture: a woman who is assaulted because she wasn't responsive to unwanted sexual advances. A woman who is violated because she wasn't #UpForWhatever after drinking a few beers.
Sure, the Tweet says "people." But the picture they used to illustrate this idea is unmistakably comprised of adult women. The #UpForWhatever women: the ones who aren't ever allowed to say no.
On Twitter, countless reactions showed that Bud Light's potential consumers were none too pleased by the invitation to pinch women who are assumed (without question) to be #UpForWhatever. As a result, the Tweet was deleted and Bud Light spokesman Nick Kelly sent a statement of apology to Business Insider:
"We understand that some people misunderstood our St. Patrick's Day post and we want to apologize to everyone who was offended. Our intention was only to be playful and celebrate the holiday."
Ah, yes, the classic language of rape culture: the "misunderstanding" that was intended to be "playful." Much like our memories from the emerald fields of yore, so, too, do we recall the familiar refrains of manipulative sex offenders: You misunderstood. It didn't really happen the way you think it did. I was only playing. You're overreacting. You're crazy. It was a party. It was a game. It was a mistake. I'm sorry. I didn't mean it. Can't you ever take a joke? What's wrong with you?
Cheryl Strayed once described women as "the gender onto which a giant Here To Serve button has been eternally pinned. We’re expected to nurture and give by the very virtue of our femaleness, to consider other people’s feelings and needs before our own."
Does that button also say #UpForWhatever?
I think it's really important to examine the assumptions that make up our lives. For me, in this instance, the questions are piling up. How many times have I said I'm up for whatever so that I didn't create conflict? How many times have I said I'm up for whatever so that I didn't hurt someone else's feelings? How many times did saying I'm up for whatever pave the path of least resistance?
Bud Light, I won't be drinking any of your cheap brews. As it turns out, I'm just not up for it anymore.
And if anyone pinches me over this? We're going to have a problem.