Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Go Get Me A Beer (But Don't You Dare Get One For Yourself)

Really Alex Morris? Is your masculinity challenged because a girl can drink more than you?

If we change the pro-nouns and name in the first two paragraphs of this piece of sexist tripe, it's no big thing. Kevin can drink more than anyone; sometimes 24 drinks in 24 hours; he drinks on Sunday cause it's still the weekend and drinks on Monday cause it's not.
"Going out with them meant drinking, usually heavy drinking, which suited Kate’s mind-set at the time. “I felt like I deserved it,” she says. “I realized I can work crazy hours, I can work just like anyone else, so I can party just like anyone else.”"
(Emphasis mine.) She just wanted to fit in. I guess she works with a bunch of alcoholics.
"Not all of my female friends drink like Kate, but most of them do drink—and not just in a glass-of-wine-with-dinner way. Drinking is our go-to activity. Meeting a friend implies going to a bar. Having a meal implies a round of cocktails beforehand. A party implies a serious hangover. Drinking feels like our prerogative—if we want to get blasted at the company Christmas party or nurse a bottle of scotch through the holidays, no one should, or can, stop us."
So, this is a social issue, right? Our culture has come to associate social-ness with drunkenness. You can't be social without a drink in your hand because 21st century America is all about the latest addiction, right? That's what this is about, right? WRONG.
"So while Kate might be an extreme case, she is emblematic of something researchers are noticing: That more women are drinking, yes—more than 48 percent acknowledge having had at least one drink in the past month (up from 42 percent in 1992). But beyond that, the women who drink are drinking more. The number of women who identify as moderate-to-heavy drinkers has risen in the last ten years, while the number of women who say they are light drinkers has declined. At the same time, men are reining in their drinking, meaning that the gender gap of alcohol consumption is narrowing all the time."
Gender gap narrowing? Women engaging in a typically male activity while men engage in it less? A-ha! This is all feminism's fault! No wonder it's only 11:30 and I've got a beer in my hand! Feminism and alcoholism go together like... like... like two things that sound like they'd go really well together!
"For years, research—and conventional wisdom—has told us that in the decades since World War II, everyone was drinking more. The observation that women were contributing disproportionately to this trend was made by Dr. Richard Grucza, an epidemiologist who spends his time in the near-oxymoronic pursuit of thinking about drinking."
Okay stop. Alcoholism has previously been more prevalent in male populations, but it turns out that addiction is not gender discriminating, so women-alcoholics are picking up the pace, if you will, and people are surprised by this? This is called "skewing the numbers", where you twist a piece of information around so that it says what you want it to say: women don't drink more than men, they drink more than they did in the bad old days. Before, women were just addicted to pills, legal heroin that made housework fun!, and cocaine. Well what the hell do you expect people to turn to when you make their drug of choice illegal? Jail? Come on now. These women have families to take care of and jobs to kill themselves doing (not unlike their male counterparts)! They also have a predilection toward substance abuse, not unlike their male counterparts, and are going to feed that somewhere. Why is this a gender equality issue all of a sudden?
"For the bulk of history, women have skewed toward the teetotaler end of the spectrum; not until the middle of the last century did a burgeoning relationship with alcohol coincide with Second Wave feminism and a general impulse to close the gender gap across the board."
Classic logical fallacy: confusing coincidence with causality. Women started doing two things that men didn't like around the same time, ergo one caused the other, that is, women started asserting their independence (again), and as a part of that they started drinking. You see? (It's even worse if the drinking happened and caused the feminism.) They tie in together perfectly... well, except for that part where women don't start really drinking more until 2001, and the fact that it's really mostly the women closest to the dominant paradigm (that is, white, middle class, educated women in white collar jobs that are mostly dominated by men who think that being social and drinking are the same fucking thing). But this is a feminism problem -- not a men-don't-know-how-to-socialize-without-a-beer-in-their-hand problem, not a society-fails-to-differentiate-masculinity-from-alcohol problem. It's because of those goddamn feminists!

Gag me with a Bud Light.

I'll admit it, I go out to bars with my girlfriends. I probably get drunk once or twice a month, and drunk enough to puke once a year (much to the chagrin of my Schmoogie who doesn't think anyone should drink that much). But this isn't because we're feminists (in fact, I'm one of two of my girlfriends who identifies as feminist) and isn't because we want to work like the men do -- it's because our culture has beaten into us that socializing involves drunkenness. When a society is as uptight about people drinking (before a certain age) as ours is, while glamorizing people who (are old enough to) get drunk and pass out in the middle of the street with their dresses over their heads (Paris Hilton), you get a huge fucking problem.

In fact, the uptick in women drinking doesn't have anything to do with feminism at all. It has more to do with social-puritainism that says "if you drink (before a certain age) you're going to destroy your life", while simultaneously running ads of people having lots and lots of skinny sexy fun while never letting go of their drink. Alcohol is as sexualized as women are and yet you have the gal to blame feminism for it's increased consumption by women?! It's sexy to drink this beer and wear this dress -- and then the same people selling this message turn around and call you a slut for drinking that beer and wearing that dress.

Hypocricy much?

This article is too fucking long for me to take it apart piece by piece, but here's the gist of it: feminism and education are responsible for women drinking. This couldn't be more wrong, but it's okay to just sweep the real cause of alcoholism under the rug (that is, alcoholism provides escape to people who want it and escapism is a more socially-acceptable means of dealing with one's problems than facing shit like an adult), and blame it on two things that conservatives don't like in the first place. Perfect. It's not caused by their social-puritainism, or the denial of men (by men) to face their emotions, or (further) the denial of women by a masculating culture of their emotions (something that is also blamed on feminism -- another wtf); it's all because women wanted to "be more like men" so they started getting jobs, going to college, and drinking.

Except, everybody has problems. Even women. Vice does not discriminate on the basis of gender, and just because some faction of Americans want women to be pure angels who never drink, or swear, or masturbate, doesn't mean that women are like that or even should be. I drink, okay? I smoke sometimes. I swear like a motherfucking sailor (my grandad would be proud). I also have tattoos and a vibrator. If I was a man, I would be completely normal and none of these things would be signs of the coming social apocalypse. But, I'm a woman who is supposed to be free of vice and body art (except earrings), so my drinking is somehow a social problem.

No. Not buying it. I'd sooner buy stock in WaMu. Don't pretend to be concerned when you find out that women are drinking more than they used to -- you don't care about women, all you care about is that your societal norms (that alcoholism is for boys) are kept in place. If you really wanted to address the issue of alcoholism and substance abuse, this piece wouldn't be couched in anti-feminist language talking about how big a tradgedy it is that women are drinking more.

Alcoholism is a problem. It destroys families. But, guess what, there are still more men who are alcoholics than there are women. If alcoholism is a gendered problem (and I don't believe it is), it's still a men's problem. Women are more likely to abuse prescription drugs; and of course, if there was a sudden rise in prescription drug abuse in men that would be feminism's fault too. Just ask Rush Limbaugh.

(Title from here.)

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