Alcohol is a depressant, right? And alcohol use and aggression/violence are related? But isn't it possible to use alcohol as a force of good, as a relaxant, as medicine? Don't we all deserve coping mechanisms?... And who are we to judge?
Warning: Downer alert
I was in Lincoln about a week and a half ago, where we'd organized a Feminism In/Action discussion. It was the first time I'd ever been to Lincoln; I had no idea of its history of radical lesbianism (go Lincoln!) but I was thrilled to learn there's still a significant percentage of queer women (um, relatively-speaking here). More on that later...
Back to the discussion. A lot of it was focused on the difficulty of sustaining community/grassroots organizing projects there. For example: Two of the groups' participants had tried to start from what I could tell would have been an incredible DIY (do-it-yourself) health skillshare collective – where community members learn things like how their bodies work, how to be mindful about what you put into it, etc. Apparently people were really excited about it and invested at first, but after a few months, people stopped coming and the whole thing fizzled out. The main reason folks attributed it to was people spending more time in bars than working to better their community.
In Denver's Feminism In/Action discussion the following night, the conversation again turned to the problem of sustaining local community organizing and projects. And people said very simliar things about the level of drinking and the prevalence of bars.
I started thinking about other cities I've lived in, or spent a lot of time in. People in Detroit, Milwaukee, in San Francisco, here in Portland have said similar things, in different ways. Sometimes I run into people I know used to be really active in social change projects and they tell me they're drinking too much. I never know what to say in response.
Several days ago, back here in Portland I went to see a band I really like, 3 Leg Torso (in the interest of self-disclosure I should say that my accordion teacher is in the band) at a bar. I'd seen them once before and loved it; the crowd was totally silent and focused on their music, which made sense because their music is extremely complex and layered, and their musical skill is incredible to watch.
The show this week was totally different. It was at a bar rather than a community space. Lots of folks were talking, seemingly oblivious to the music. I was annoyed. (Of course. Aren't I always annoyed lately?). But then I also noticed that lots of folks were dancing, and remembered back to the other time I'd seen them, where people were quiet but no one was dancing. Dancing is good for people, right? And doesn't alcohol often get people loosened up to dance?
I'll close with this little bit of historical information about the Temerance Movement, which maybe you already know. I didn't know anything about the Temperance Movement until I looked it up on Wikipedia (thanks, Michael, for reminding me to use Wikipedia!).
The Temperance Movement attempted to reduce the amount of alcohol consumed within a community or society in general -- and even to prohibit its production and consumption entirely...
Most of its main supporters in all countries have been women, often as part of what some describe as feminism. The strong temperance movements of the early 20th century found support from women who were opposed to the domestic violence associated with alcohol abuse, and the large share of household income it could consume, which was especially burdensome to the low-income working class.
I never knew any of that -- that this movement was connected to women's and class struggles.
Why does everything have to be so complicated?
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