Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Female Alcohol Syndrome

It is an article of feminist faith, if not dogma, that there is no significant difference between the male and the female body. If a woman fails the physical exam for the fire department or Army Rangers that can only mean that the test was designed to discriminate against women.

It’s not an academic issue. If the nation, through its political leaders believes that women should be put in combat positions on the front lines of military campaigns, the debate has become policy.

Often, this discussion revolves around the question of whether male and female sexuality are fundamentally the same or fundamentally different.

Yet, there is another way of measuring, not merely the difference between male and female bodies but the consequences of feminists teaching women that, anything a man can do they can and should be doing it too.

Take alcohol. It turns out that today’s liberated woman, especially today’s educated women is more likely to consume too much alcohol. Female alcohol syndrome is becoming an important health issue.

Feminist thinkers have been cheering the college girls on. College professor and philosopher Nancy Bauer describes today’s liberated and empowered college women in these terms:

If there’s anything that feminism has bequeathed to young women of means, it’s that power is their birthright.  Visit an American college campus on a Monday morning and you’ll find any number of amazingly ambitious and talented young women wielding their brain power, determined not to let anything — including a relationship with some needy, dependent man — get in their way.  Come back on a party night, and you’ll find many of these same girls (they stopped calling themselves “women” years ago) wielding their sexual power, dressed as provocatively as they dare, matching the guys drink for drink — and then hook-up for hook-up….

When they’re on their knees in front of a worked-up guy they just met at a party, they genuinely do feel powerful — sadistic, even.  

You’ve come a long way, baby!!

Of course, most feminists do not encourage young women to become alcoholics or to be down on their knees to service worked-up boys, but any woman who takes seriously the notion that gender differences are merely a social construct will have little reason to believe that she should systematically drink less than a man.

Obviously, Bauer would never take responsibility for the consequences of her advice, but she would do herself and everyone else a favor if she apologized for drawing a picture of a liberated woman that puts that woman on the road to alcoholism.

As for the statistics, The Wall Street Journal reports on the increase in female alcohol syndrome:

Indeed, more women are drinking now than at any time in recent history, according to health surveys. In the nine years between 1998 and 2007, the number of women arrested for drunken driving rose 30%, while male arrests dropped more than 7%. Between 1999 and 2008, the number of young women who showed up in emergency rooms for being dangerously intoxicated rose by 52%. The rate for young men, though higher, rose just 9%.

These numbers are not driven solely by young women living it up on spring break. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of binge drinking—that is, having four or more drinks for women or five or more for men within two hours—revealed a surprising statistic. While the greatest number, 24%, of binge-drinking women are college-age, 10% of women between 45 and 64 said they binge drink—and so did 3% of women older than 65. The college-age binge drinkers and the senior binge drinkers overdid it with a similar frequency, about three times a month.

Welcome to the world of gender parity. The Journal is too modest to say that feminism has anything to do with this alarming trend, but it feels a need to report that, when it comes to alcohol, the male body and the female body are not created equal. For those who believe in science, it explains:

In one sense, the rising rates of alcohol consumption by women are a sign of parity. But this is one arena in which equal treatment yields unequal outcomes. Women are more vulnerable than men to alcohol's toxic effects. Their bodies have more fat, which retains alcohol, and less water, which dilutes it, so women drinking the same amount as men their size and weight become intoxicated more quickly. Males also have more of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, which breaks down alcohol before it enters the bloodstream. This may be one reason why alcohol-related liver and brain damage appear more quickly in heavy-drinking women than men.

Strangely, alcohol also seems to enhance traditional gender roles:

Scientists are continuing to explore the biochemical differences in the way that alcohol affects men and women. Studies show that after drinking, men report feeling more powerful, often overstating their capabilities and accomplishments, while women say that it makes them feel more affectionate, sexy and feminine.

Is it not ironic when women drink too much because they believe that they are equal to men they discover that alcohol provokes feelings of… femininity.

Surely, it would be better if women could find another way to feel more feminine.


Webutante said...

Another homerun Stuart! So fine and scary but just one more leg down on the slippery slope of moral decay and myth living we now fnd ourselves in.

I still love a glass of red wine but the message is clear and has been: drink less, floss more.

Thank you as always for your amazing gift of writing and thinking. BTW, I also agree with everything you said about the myth of unconditional love.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Thank you, Webutante, for the very kind words.

Anonymous said...

The most interesting idea for me from the WSJ article is about treatment, if there are gender differences, and uh oh, is selling Therapy, although maybe AA's "I'm X and I'm an alcoholic (for life)" has its own talk-therapy-forever issues?

A.A. was founded in 1935 by two men who believed that alcohol dependence could be tamed by regular attendance at group meetings with other recovering alcoholics. Its doctrine calls for members to tame their egos, abstain from all drinking and acknowledge they are in the grip of a force they can combat only with help from a "higher power.''

It doesn't take an advanced degree in gender studies to realize that this approach—which has worked well for millions of people—may not be perfect for women whose biggest problem is not an excess of ego but a lack of it. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as men—and are far more likely to medicate those conditions with alcohol.

Many women who drink heavily are also the victims of sexual abuse and have had eating disorders. The idea of being powerless can underscore a woman's sense of vulnerability, researchers say. "Women need to feel powerful, not like victims of something beyond their control," says Dr. Barnes. "It gives women power to feel they themselves can change."

...The two offer five days of intensive personal counseling. The idea is to examine what triggers a woman's drinking and to help her decide how she might design a healthier life. "Most of our female clients slip into harmful drinking in their 40s and 50s, masking the discomfort of fluctuating hormones, the adjustment to an empty nest, the death of parents and other role losses," Dr. Wilson says.

David Foster said...

Someone defined "happiness" as "that moment we would not trade for non-existence"

Being drunk out of one's mind seems like a pretty good simulation of non-existence, and I'd think that those who choose to spend a lot of their time this way must not be very happy people.

David Foster said...

"When they’re on their knees in front of a worked-up guy they just met at a party, they genuinely do feel powerful — sadistic, even."

That's what the world needs: people who combine power and sadism.

Anonymous said...

David, do you mean this?

It's power and sadism about power... really!


Anonymous said...

Drunk women also have the tendency to have unprotected sex (as do drunk men)
Leading not only to unwanted children or abortions, but also to all of the sexually transmitted diseases we see in society.
It used to be just drunk men in college and at the bars, and the women had to stay sober to protect themselves. Now, the women are joining the men in this reckless behavior. I've seen scores of new divorcees run amok, drinking like fish and giving their bodies like it's their last day on earth. Not just stupid college girls.
Why? If feminism is the cause, it is the worst disease that has plagued us on our history...

Sam L. said...

If women are equal to men in every respect, why are there women's events in athletics?

Verla said...

This is cool!