Monday, October 7, 2013

Liberated Women and Alcohol

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.


Sam L. said...

"Everyone makes errors. Once you do so, it’s better to correct yourself than to blame the sexist patriarchy."

But it's so much easier to blame someone or something rather than yourself. And the party line is, "the patriarchy is responsible for your misery".

Anonymous said...

'Correcting your mistakes' is a Patriarchal virtue.
Can't have that.

Come to think of it, so is
"Take responsibility for your actions and choices".
and "Actions have consequences".

Can't have those either.


Anonymous said...

I know men in Sales who blame their drinking on Sales.
"I'm in Sales, I HAVE to drink with the customers."
I see these women as looking for the scapegoat.
The guys who grew up in the ghetto with abusive parents and drugs around them and got out to lead productive lives? Who do they "blame" for their productive lives?
Then those in jail now for murder from even the finest households blame their "overly critical parents" for their pyschoses...
As my parents and teachers taught me, "When you go to point your finger, look at your hand. 3 others are pointing back at you."

jim sweeney said...

You can always tell an elitist when the say "university" without an article. They think the UK way is "upper". It's the same with the "spot on" idiom or when "data are" is used versus the American "data is".ingsongh 73

Dennis said...

You've come a long way baby!

Dennis said...

The real question is whether these "liberated" women are actually liberated. When one is in thrall to the dictates of the sisterhood instead of being able to choose for themselves one might want to ask is this really what freedom looks like?
Alcoholism is almost always an escape from something that causes damage to one's ability to cope with a cognizant dissonance in one's life. Modern day feminism is a cognizant dissonance to the "core" of who and what most women know about themselves
American women are dying 5 years earlier than they used to. The feminization of poverty is only going to grow much larger. This due to the fact that middle upper and upper class women need people they can pay little to be their cooks, cleaners, nannies, et al. I can readily see that a number of women are starting to wonder about what their lives are going to be.
Being a musician I could have used the excuse that all kinds of people were buying me drinks wherever I played and i did spends some days so drunk I was not totally sure what happened the night before. That is why is if someone came up to me and said I was their father I might not know what to say. Something women ought to be very aware in spite of abortion and the ethical dilemma involved.
One is responsible for their actions and the results of those actions. Brain mapping does not ever stop especially in the Orbitofrontal cortex and the Caudate nucleus. Dr. Jeffery Schwartz et al. Contrary we DO have free will.

trishapatk said...

I am reading a book written by a well known woman prosecutor. It is only a novel but I suspect that the women characters are somewhat auto-biographically based ... and one of the things I notice is that they drink quite a bit. It is a crutch for them but not one that they show any shame for ... it comes across as kind'a cool. The women seem a lot like a stereotypical man in other ways as well - they don't want to talk about emotions and they find their identity through their work. At least the author does sneak in bits and pieces of real emotion and feeling but it's as if the character sees it almost as a weakness. Going back to the point though, the alcohol consumption seems like something she is proud to show that they indulge in frequently and heartily.

Larry Sheldon said...

I am not sure if it is fact or if it is bias, but it seems to me a lot more women speaking of drinking as the goal, than men do.

Mark McGreevey said...

Without some kind of perspective, it's easy to think that the latest problem (increased female drinking rates) are something new.

Throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, women drank heartily. It was called beer. All the peasants loved to get soused. The Church thundered against it. Hopeless. What changed it? The rise of industrialism, mercantilism, towns with middle class families and regular work schedules, improved food and water systems and therefore less fatalism about the future. 1920's, 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, with the great majority of Amreican women nominally married (whether husband came home or not), the rise of the drinking wife and mother was heavily debated, was it boredom or lack of religious faith, or what was causing the excessive drinking amongst the married women?

In Russia, Poland and most Communist countries, women and men both drank to excess starting in high school. True, men drank more, but women drank plenty. It was blamed on lack of self-control and therefore unworthy of the new "Socialist Man" (i.e. human, including women). To drink was to shirk.

In Scandanavia today, women married or single drink a great deal more than American women do. It is the cultural norm. To be oblivious on weekends and feel free and happy is the week-long goal of the working class, the middle class, and the upper middle. Only the cost of the drinks and furniture upon which the imbibers collapse vary.

Who DOESNT drink? That is where the researchers should go hunting for data. If they discover that truckdrivers and female busdrivers drink the least, by all means, let's investigate WHY. Could it be that their jobs prohibit it? No. Too simple. check if the men are young, old, fat, thin, black, white, Mexican, religious, secular, high school dropouts, and above all, whether they are married, single or divorced. If divorced, how many times, and how many children.

Then let's run the data again and see if we can somehow get the whole population to become like these abstaining bus- and truck-drivers.

Or else we can become Mormons. That is what the two genders of alcoholics do in FInland when they're ready to quit. Both the men and women are often married, and some say that's why they drink: marriage is hard. I lived in Finland and heard a million reasons why "People drink so much here".

How about the culture of a country? The same Finn or Irish man or woman drinks far less in USA if he/she has to keep a job. My guess about women drinking: they are either too young to have started working (i.e. students or dependents, therefore free of obligations), or they're married and not working, so they can live off others and not worry about the consequences of their self-abuse.

If they had to worry about keeping a job, they would be far less likely to play with livelihoods.