Publishers respond to cartoon controversy

The publishers of French wine magazine ‘En Magnum’ have issued a statement with regards the outrage caused by the printing of a cartoon in the latest issue that has been called “sexist”, “crude” and “misogynistic”.

As reported by the drinks business, there was a good deal of outrage on social media last week following the publication in the Bettane+Desseauve publication En Magnum of a cartoon featuring a woman in a revealing red dress offering sexual favours to a wine merchant if he stocked her wines.

The cartoon, drawn by artist turned winemaker Régis Franc, was titled, ‘Covid requires new strategies’ and there was further upset that it represented a real person in the French wine trade, Fleur Godart, due to the spin given to the name of the company the woman in the cartoon was meant to represent.

Two women who raised objections to the cartoon said afterwards they had been sent aggressive messages by the magazine’s editor, Nicolas de Rouyn, and even Michel Bettane himself.

One of these women, Sandrine Goeyvaerts, was then subject to a slew of denigrating messages and comments across social media by others in the Francophone wine industry.

In a statement to the drinks business (which can be read in full below), Thierry Desseauve, said: “We extend our apologies to all persons, whatever their sex or profession, that felt hurt by the drawing.”

He went on to refute, however, accusations that he, Michel Bettane or the magazine were “macho and sexist”. He said: These accusations are first of all unfounded: simply upon reading the En Magnum magazines and our guides (“the personality of the Year” of the Bettane+Desseauve guide 2020 is actually a woman) can one see there is no base for such accusations, at any time since we have been writing.

“A visit to our Grand Tasting events, be it in France or abroad, would also show that, as much in terms of visitor profile as of exhibitors, these are most certainly the wine shows in which women are the most present.”

In a French version of the statement published on Instagram (which offers no apology at all), he also refuted the notion that the cartoon portrayed Godart, saying it was an act of “self-mockery” on the part of the cartoonist.

He added that, “never have Michel, nor I, ever denigrated the role of women in wine because she was a woman, or boycotted a wine because it was made by a woman.”

Neither statement, however, makes mention of the messages apparently sent to Goeyvaerts and Ophélie Neiman by members of the editorial staff nor was there any mention of the online abuse Goeyvaerts received as a result.

 

Full statement from Thierry Desseauve:

“We extend our apologies to all persons, whatever their sex or profession, that felt hurt by the drawing. This being said in all earnestness, above and beyond the illustration, that is a caricature – admittedly a difficult exercise in these times – many reflections and interventions on social media, among which the ones you quote, seem to imply a ‘macho and sexist’ bias in our magazine, and even of its founders, Michel Bettane and myself.

“These accusations are first of all unfounded: simply upon reading the En Magnum magazines and our guides (“the personality of the Year” of the Bettane+Desseauve guide 2020 is actually a woman) can one see there is no base for such accusations, at any time since we have been writing.

“A visit to our Grand Tasting events, be it in France or abroad, would also show that, as much in terms of visitor profile as of exhibitors, these are most certainly the wine shows in which women are the most present. These attacks are also insulting and, for Michel Bettane and myself, totally at the opposite of our personal convictions and our professional commitments in thirty years of collaboration.

“Created in 2005 by its founders and still owned by them exclusively, without any external help, the Bettane+Desseauve company has always fought in all independence in spirit or of interests to defend the quality of wines and the interests of consumers. This battle, that is not of the most ‘comfortable’ in these times of crisis, is done within a company where the balance between men and women is a fact since its creation.”

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