Written by Desireé Buitenbos
Drink wine, feel sexy.
That seems to be the idea behind a new Ontario wine that hit store shelves at the end of May; it’s called Strut. According to the company’s website, the look and lingering taste of the wine is designed to appeal to 23 something females who thrive on fun, fashion, and the former TV hit, “Sex and the City.”
Strut claims to endorse self-assurance and style. It also suggests drinking their product means more strutting and less stressing because they understand how difficult life can be as a woman keeping up appearances in our go-go capitalist society.
The website says, “Today’s young woman is the ultimate multi-tasker; she knows she can have it all and she’s going for it, just check out her Blackberry calendar. Mogul, model, mom and much more every day she’s playing the many roles that make up her vibrant life.”
On the outskirts, it would appear that Strut is all for female empowerment, but don’t get too excited. One look at a bottle of this stuff will have you blinking twice and wondering just how pro-feminist our new drinking buddies are.
Strut is “the wine with legs.” Its four various bottles depict an assortment of disembodied legs to symbolize the “unique characteristics” of each wine and the drinking persona’s to match.
“Red over Heels” is a merlot for the “no non-sense chic” woman. The bottle shows unattached long, limber limbs pacing in seven-inch stilettos. The other bottles, such as Chardonista and Well-Heeled White, show similar slim, shiny and shaven legs in various other poses. The website also features the four wino legs complete with all-male photographers clicking away in the background. To men, these legs are ogle-and-drool worthy. And to women, these legs seem ideal. But to me, these legs symbolize an objectification of my body parts.
Disembodiment in advertising is no new trend. A half naked woman and her sexualized goods can sell almost anything from cologne, to cars to beer. And it’s not just male products that objectify women – we buy into it too. Flip open any female-targeted magazine and you’re bound to be bombarded by highly risqué images of ladies who represent “ideal femininity”. These women are out there to make us feel bad about ourselves. Marketers want us to give in and consume whatever products they’re selling because it is supposed to make us feel better. However, the consumption of these products to boost your outer-status is shallow, pretentious and vain. Of course, Strut is aware of this (as evident on the website):
“Your image has been fairly carefully crafted, driven by your passions and preferences, strengthened by your work ethic and outward reinforcement. Who you are, or who you appear to be is the compilation of the millions of choices made over your lifetime. What does your profile photo say about you? Your status update? Tweet much? From your Jimmy Choos to your Loreal #47, your Prius to your Pug, your purchases and lifestyle further define your personal brand. Your choice in wine is no exception. What does your choice in wine say about you?”
Maintaining an image is what keeps products like Strut on the shelves because we constantly give into the consumption of feel-good items. Women are one of the largest consumers of wine, so it is no surprise that we now have a specially catered wine. Which is awesome, but the problem is that the market is run by men targeting women. These men don’t get where we come from, and judging by the images on the bottle, I’d say Strut marketing manager Casey Howe is indeed a leg-man. We are merely consuming his gaze.
Strut is not about feminism, it’s about sex and selling. A classic cliché designed to draw the eye. It is no breakthrough and it has done nothing but reinforce pre-existing assumptions of what it means to be a woman in our society. If femininity means preferring style over comfort; being too caught up in our own superficial exterior designed to appeal to others; or prancing around in high heels that hurt and destroy the natural form of our feet – then I have to ask: Who is defining this and why do I care?
In my humble opinion, the best thing a woman can do is be her self. She can exhibit confidence without detailed decorations designed to accompany her lifestyle. Beauty comes from within. It is an attitude. No woman needs to dress to impress or drink a bottle of sour grapes because she is enough- just the way she is.