Beer and Tea: Harmony and Contradiction Among Two Unlikely Counterparts

  • Sue McPhersonEmail author


This essay begins by examining the representations and interpretations of women and men in two sets of images: the Women's Institute Alternative Calendar and a television commercial for Guinness beer. Both of these compositions are exceptional in their own right, and have captured the imaginations of wide audiences. Taken together, the counterpointing of culture and nature, serenity and intensity, and feminine charm and virility creates a montage of images that both reflect and represent traditional forms of femininity and masculinity. This essay draws on a variety of sociological and interdisciplinary theoretical approaches, with an emphasis on the storied nature of lives, sexuality, and life change. C. Wright Mills declares that the sociological imagination is necessary in order “to grasp history and biography and the relations between the two within society” (Mills, 1959, p. 6). The author's aim in this essay, following through on Mills's idea, is to provide insight into the lives of earlier cohorts of women and a glimpse into how personal and social change comes about.

sexuality gender studies biography life stories life cycle development 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of EssexColchesterUK

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