Philosophy professor Nancy Bauer once stated that women had gained a fuller measure of equality because they could now drink as much as men. See my previous posts, here and here.
As the old saying goes… be careful what you wish for.
Feminist professors tell young women that the difference between the sexes is just a social construct, but, when it comes to alcohol consumption, it’s simply not true. Women are paying a heavy price for the bad advice.
In her new book about women and alcohol Ann Dowsett Johnson reports:
“Are the girls trying to keep up with the boys?” asks Edith Sullivan, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Quantity and frequency can be a killer for novice drinkers. Adding alcohol to the mix of the developing brain will likely complicate the normal developmental trajectory. Long after a young person recovers from a hangover, risk to cognitive and brain functions endures.”
Sullivan, who has done a lot of work with the brain structure of alcoholics, is certain that what is known as “telescoping” is real: “As they develop alcoholism, women seem to develop dependence sooner than men. Drink for drink, it is worse for females.”
“It is the issue affecting girls’ health — and it’s going sideways, especially for those 13 to 15.” This is the voice of Nancy Poole, director of research and knowledge translation at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health. “And the saddest thing,” says Poole, “is alcohol is being marketed as girls’ liberation.”
But, why is it sad that this is part of the women’s liberation movement? The really sad part, as Johnson suggests, is that a woman who wants to live a feministically correct life will often fall prey to the lure of the bottle. (And this says nothing about the use of psychoactive medication.)
Peggy Drexler reported on the rise in female binge drinking a few months ago:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more American women are drinking more heavily than ever before: one in eight women binge drink -- defined as four drinks or more in one sitting -- about three times a month.
A forthcoming study in the October 2013 issue of the journalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research found that college-aged women are drinking more often than their male counterparts, confirming a January 2013 study of college students in Spain found female students were more likely to binge drink than male students.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports thatarrests for women driving while drunk are on the rise, by about 30% from 1998 to 2007. And according to the CDC, white, college-educated woman ages 18 to 24 with $75,000 or more annual household income were more likely to binge drink than women of other races, ages, and socioeconomic categories.
In her new book Ann Dowsett Johnson blames her own and other women’s excessive alcohol consumption on feminism. In particular, on Gloria Steinem:
I came of age in the ’70s, a heady time for women in North America. Smack-dab in the middle of second-wave feminism, my baby-boom peers and I headed off to university in our miniskirts and tie-dyed T-shirts, assured by Gloria Steinem and a host of others that the world was ours for the taking. We could, in Steinem’s words, “grow up to be the men we wanted to marry.”
Ah yes, second-wave feminism. It was only yesterday that I posted about it on the blog.
Yesterday we saw how some mothers who got caught up in second-wave feminism neglected and abandoned their children for the cause. Now we find out that the movement-induced excessive alcohol consumption has had a deleterious effect on women’s health.
I have occasionally suggested that feminism teaches young women that they should not like being women. It’s so much better, in the feminist world view, to be men. Some may question my opinion, so I am happy to note that Steinem is on my side.
Young women, she said, should grow up to be men. In particular, to be the men they want to marry. How much clearer can you get? How much more contempt can you have for women?
Naturally, Steinem was so taken with her cleverness that neither she nor any of the young women who jumped on the feminist bandwagon gave any thought to the idea that very few men were going to want to marry a woman who really wanted to be a man.
Or better, very few men would want to stay married to a woman who was aspiring to be a man.
Johnson does not explain how it happened, but when her son was 5 she herself became a single mother.
When she was alone bringing up her son, she needed a little alcohol to get through the day. And then, her son went away to college. She described what happened:
For me, all the juggling took its toll. Certain disappointments at work were bruising. Menopause hit and anxiety and depression reared their ugly heads. Somewhere along the line, my occasional evenings of drinking too much morphed into drinking on an almost nightly basis.
When my son left for university, when the marathon was over and the house was empty, I was lonely. It was then that my evening glass of wine turned into two or three, which eventually became three or four.
On this, I am not alone.
She was, you might say, liberated. She had reached a level of independence and autonomy that feminists dreamed of. And she was alone. She drank.
Of course, Johnson adds, this is surely not what Gloria Steinem had in mind. And yet, it does not matter what Gloria Steinem had in mind. It does not matter what her intentions or her visions were.
Unsurprisingly, the women who bought into the second-wave feminist message did not have the lives that feminism promised. Some became manic; some became alcoholics; many ended up alone.
Ought feminism to be held accountable for the consequences that its revolutionary social policies produced?
Of course, it should.
When you tell women not to like themselves for being women you are putting them in a very precarious and vulnerable position. If that is not what you expected you made a mistake.
Everyone makes errors. Once you do so, it’s better to correct yourself than to blame the sexist patriarchy.