Okanagan bar owner defends her mannequin-breast beer taps amid online controversy
VANCOUVER -- The owner of The Small Axe Roadhouse in Enderby, B.C. has been saving up to buy draught beer taps for a year and a half.
“We have just been doing cans, it’s kind of a big deal for us. We’re really excited,” said Sarah Dudley.
Before ordering the new taps, she asked her female manager and other staff what they thought of her design – which includes two mannequin torsos, with a draught beer tap installed on each breast.
“We are basically all women here, we all talked about it before we got them, we all thought it was a great idea. It’s beautiful, empowering,” Dudley said.
”We didn’t see it in a negative way at all, we thought it was cool and unique, and our bar is very eclectic,” said Dudley.
After posting a photo of the taps to the bar’s social media pages, Dudley got plenty of positive feedback, but then negative comments came flooding in.
“We just started getting all these notifications from Instagram and it was a lot of hate, saying it was misogynistic, sexist, putting women back in time. Taking advantage of the female body to sell beer, exploiting the female form and adding to the negativity in the beer industry,” said Dudley.
She says locals in Enderby have been very supportive, dropping off flowers and cards. The hateful comments have mostly been coming from people who haven’t been to the bar, or visited the small Okanagan town.
“The negativity seems to come from followers — or not followers — from Vancouver, Ontario, from the east coast, and they dub themselves as craft beer hunters or aficionados,” Dudley said.
“There is some language, I had to remove some of the comments because they were nasty and name-calling, swearing. But I left most of them up because people are allowed to express their opinions, say what they want to say, and that’s fine with me,” she said.
After the barrage of negative comments, Dudley again posted to social media to explain why she chose the taps.
“We are really comfortable with our bodies and the female form, and we don’t think it’s dirty or wrong and we don’t have to ask permission to put these up,” Dudley said. “They’re really nice, they’re really beautiful, they’re functional works of art.”
She says no amount of social media hate will convince her to remove the mannequin beer taps.
“They are staying!” Dudley exclaimed. “We love them, we saved up for them, we worked hard. We still sometimes stare at them and we’re like, ‘Why are these making people angry?’ It’s just kind of confusing. It’s 2021, and they’re boobs.”