From Miss Hannigan to "Mother's Ruin," gin-drinking has long been associated with slovenly women. Now, its image is changing. But why—and do we even want it to?by Maeve Marsden / April 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
There’s something about the way Carol Burnett lurches into frame, bottle in hand, halfway through the 1982 film Annie; before you’re told anything about gin-loving tyrant Miss Agatha Hannigan you know her. You just know her. Not to take away from Ms Burnett’s well-documented acting chops or her impeccable comic timing, but like the orphan-makes-good narrative Annie is based on, the trope of the fallen gin-soaked woman is as familiarly Dickensian as they come.
Gin has been inextricably linked to gender for centuries. Mother’s Milk; Madame Genever; Mother’s Ruin—these are just a few of the many epithets showing that the intersection of gin and women is historical, and well, hysterical. I mean, it’s distilled grain base alcohol, juniper and botanicals for heaven’s sake—not créme de feminist. So, how did this little beverage come to be so feminised, and why is it—now gin is experiencing such an upsurge in popularity—that feminisation has fallen by the wayside?