Monday, December 8, 2008

Now, feminism = alcoholism! What next?

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

This article from New York Magazine is disappointing, but unsurprising. Writer Alex Morris makes the rather shaky assumption that growing alcohol abuse among college women is somehow related to feminism.

"More women are drinking, and the women who drink are drinking more, in some cases matching their male peers. This is the kind of equality nobody was fighting for."

What makes me angry with this article is not so much that these writers are blaming feminism specifically for college drinking, but that it's such an egregious distraction from the actual issue of alcoholism among young people. The idea that women are drinking because they are entering the "male world" of alcohol abuse is not the issue - all college students are victims of a culture that encourages dangerous levels of alcohol consumption.

Morris quotes Jon Morgenstern, a professor of psychiatry and vice-president at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, who says, “College campuses are the place where drinking norms are set for educated individuals. The rate of drinking is astronomical. College is really a training ground for becoming an alcoholic.”

The problem here is not that feminism allowed women to enter the hallowed male space of drinking too much. The problem is with college culture. And we are never going to address the problem of alcohol abuse among young people if we keep skirting it by blaming completely irrelevant factors, just as we're never going to tackle date rape or sexual violence by censuring women for drinking too much. It's easy to dismiss this article as completely absurd, but it's disturbing because instead of talking about how we can address alcoholism in all college students, it's pointing the finger at an issue that has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol abuse.


At December 10, 2008 at 5:50 PM , Blogger Aku said...

I don't know, I felt as though this article used third-wave feminism--or, what it called a "maverick," "perhaps misguided" iteration of that--as a window onto why women have let themselves start to binge drink at earlier ages. The answer to the problem wasn't eliminating feminism. I don't think the article really proposed a solution at all. But it is interesting to consider the implications of third-wave feminism: if we're all going to respect each others' choices, then what do we do when someone makes a misguided or dangerous one?

I don't think it would be right to blame feminism entirely for something that college culture is equally or more responsible for, but I do think you're overreacting a little bit, because this is actually an outgrowth of women's empowerment that should be discussed.


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