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“Mommy” wine festival draws predictably puritanical response

File this one under chill the hell out. And we’re not just talking about the Gewürztraminer.

If you’re to believe the reactions of some, a wine festival aimed at attracting new mothers is the worst thing since unsliced bread.

The event, dubbed “A Very Mommy Wine Festival” took place last Wednesday in Toronto. It happened between 11:30am and 5:00pm and was meant in part to give mothers a place to retreat from the judgement and criticism a large percentage of them report experiencing.

“We are a group of open minded, fun loving, wine drinking moms who are making our mark by ensuring no mom is left behind in the trials and tribulations of motherhood. There is truly no sisterhood like motherhood and we are in it together,” the event’s marketing material read.

Well the sentiment was nice. In reality, the Fun Police were already in hot pursuit.

“This is all concerning because of the health impact of alcohol, especially for women, such as increased risk of several cancers, including breast cancer,” Ashley Wettlaufer, a researcher at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health told the Canadian Press.

“The more you drink, the more likely you are to binge-drink,” Catherine Paradis, a senior research and policy analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, added.

An editorial in the Toronto Star entitled “Mixing booze, babies not harmless fun” criticized the event. “Craving connection is one thing. Mixing booze and babies is another,” concluded author Ann Dowsett Johnston.

Really? A couple glasses of wine amongst friends and we are hauling out the words like Cancer and addiction? Sure, addiction is a real problem in our society and it may be one that is growing.

But was this that?

Festival organizer Alana Kayfetz says this judgement is a double standard.

“If this was a man’s beer fest where babies were welcome, it would be celebrated, it would be revered,” she said. “We would say ‘Oh that’s so cute, look at those dads guzzling beer and holding their babies.’ No one would question it.”

Writing for the wine website VinePair, Jessica Sillers agrees with Kayfetz’s assessment.

In a piece called “Stop Telling Moms They Can’t Drink Responsibly”, she notes recent backlash against the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for what some thought were sexist drinking guidelines. The writer said one CDC infographic implied a risk of STDs, unplanned pregnancies and violence or injury against any pregnant woman who drinks any amount of alcohol.

“In fact, contrary to what you might believe if you relied on the infographic, the vast majority of women maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol,” Sillers writes. “Indeed, the very same CDC reports that binge drinking is twice as prevalent among men as among women. And the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism confirms that alcohol use disorders are twice as prevalent among men. For every report on excessive drinking in moms, we should theoretically be seeing at least twice as many articles begging Dad to reconsider that additional beer. But, of course, we don’t.”

Sillers says the assumption that women as a whole are frazzled basket cases who have no control over their alcohol intake (ie the “Mommy needs her wine” culture prevalent on the internet) is sexist.

“Sometimes a glass of wine is a way to remind myself that even if I don’t have energy to discuss The Atlantic’s latest feature tonight, I won’t be relegated to singsong board books forever,” Siller says. “I’m not a body that may or may not house more kids, or a mommy stretched to the breaking point. I’m an adult, trying to feel like one at the end of a long day.”

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About The Author /

Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.

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