The label depicts a pair of women’s legs wearing a man’s top hat. The new craft brew from Oval Craft Brewing is named Prom Night Cherry. And it is a cause for alarm among the community members of Plattsburgh, NY, parents, educators, and leaders, who work tirelessly to make prom night enjoyable and safe for all.
This type of advertising has reared its ugly head on numerous occasions, but this one is a little more disgusting than most. The sexualizing of young girls is a cause of concern for all women—teens, mothers, grandmothers—and the men who care about them because it creates a standard of worth that involves “putting out” in order to be seen as desirable—not an action any of us, let alone a virgin, would enjoy.
Over time, when bombarded by both subtle and graphic messages such as this, young girls internalize these societal message of what a desirable woman looks and acts like into a toxic soup that I’ve dubbed girly thoughts.
The blatant sexual innuendo here is that when a girl has intercourse for the first time, she “pops her cherry”; prom night is often depicted in popular culture as an opportunity for sex. Oval Craft Brewing’s description of the beer as “light and easy to consume” is another sexual innuendo. Such a suggestive name and label undermines the efforts of parents and community leaders to make Prom Night (and every night) safe. A name like Prom Night Cherry makes light of sex and drinking during prom, and ignoring the role that binge drinking often plays in sexual assault, drunk driving, and other violence and injury, especially among teenagers and young adults.
The Real Message
Does getting drunk at your prom and losing your virginity sound like fun? Was that your experience? One you would like your daughter to have?
Let’s Look at the Facts
- Prom is a semi-formal high school dance. Urban Dictionary defines cherry as “a widely used slang term for a woman’s hymen.” In every state in the U.S., the legal drinking age is 21.
- In a AAA survey of 16–19 year-olds (2/2014), 31 percent of those surveyed said it was likely they or friends would be under the influence of drugs or alcohol during prom or graduation season.
- According to a study published in JAMA, , each year an estimated 97,000 students ages 18 to 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- Upwards of 79 percent of sexual assault cases involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both, according to a report published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
- According to the White House Council on Women & Girls, victims of sexual assault or rape are at higher risk for mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, eating disorders, or suicidal ideations.
- The CDC reports that “Young drivers (ages 16-20) are 17 times more likely to die in a crash when they have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% than when they have not been drinking.”
What You Can Do
- Follow the lead of this community in upstate New York (which has mounted a letter-writing campaign to the owner of the brewery) and call out the manufacturers of products sexualizing women and products marketed to underage drinkers.
- Give girls a name for the pressure they feel to conform to this type of message—girly thoughts.
- Help girls realize that they can say No to this type of toxic self-talk and to feeling pressured to have sex on prom night, or any night.
- And remember to identity your own girly thoughts. You are an example to those young women in your life.
Remember the power of one. You can make a difference. It all really does begin with you.
Remember, you’ll find more ideas for getting rid of your negative self-talk in my two latest books, The Girly Thoughts 10-Day Detox Plan: The Resilient Woman’s Guide to Saying NO to Negative Self-Talk and YES to Personal Power and The Resilient Woman: Mastering The 7 Steps to Personal Power.
Patricia A. O'Gorman, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice. She is noted for her work on women, trauma, and substance abuse and for her warm, inspiring, and amusing presentations that make complex issues accessible and even fun. She has served as a consultant to organizations across the country in preventative and clinical strategic planning. Dr. O'Gorman is a cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, and she has held positions ranging from director of a rape crisis center to clinical director of a child welfare agency, and director of the division of prevention for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). She is a veteran of numerous television appearances, including Good Morning America, Today, and AM Sunday and is the author of eight books including: The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan (2014), The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power (2013), and Healing Trauma Through Self-Parenting (2012) 12 Steps to Self-Parenting.