At least half – if not two-thirds – of the essays in Drinking Diaries (a newly published book spawned by the blog of the same name) are downers. That stands to reason: alcohol is a depressant, and as I've written before in this series, historically women have borne its consequences more severely than men.
If the book sometimes feels like a long self-help meeting—with one story after another about hitting bottom, living with the consequences of a parent's or friend's drinking or simply realizing it's time to slow down—there are also moments of complexity and nuance. Rita Williams's lyric essay, "The Root Cellar," is hardly about drinking at all: it's actually about class and racial identity, and how her failure to deliver a bottle of homemade dandelion wine on time bore disastrous consequences for a coworker. Jane Friedman's "Drinking as a Genuine Vocation" made me want to be her friend for life, and Samantha Dunn's "Slake," about her mother's death due to alcoholism (that is, but due to an untreated infection from falling on broken glass) resists easy answers about the causes of her mother's thirst for booze.
For a lot of people, the idea of a sleepover conjures an image of wholesome youthful fun. In a culture that assumes that close friendships are usually same-sex, these occasions represent something platonic. At the same time, from an early age, a disproportionate degree of social anxiety and moral panic manifests around the bedroom, the nighttime, and the ambiguous meanings of the verb "to sleep." Why so much parental concern over making sure that, as their kids grow older, they aren't sharing any of these activities with others of the "opposite" sex (as though there is an opposite to a person's experience of self!)? What about the queer kids?
A highly circulating AP article on the increasing number of women with DUI charges sends mixed messages about women who mix drinking and driving. In the wake of a tragic car accident that killed eight people, four of which were children, media attention has focused on women who drink and drive--especially if they're mothers.
Diane Schuler was found to have consumed alcohol and marijuana before driving onto the the wrong lane of traffic. According to some studies, in recent years women have been drinking more and have been arrested more for DUIs. But troublesome quotes seem to direct attention off the problem at hand and more to why it's all of a sudden women are getting caught drinking.
"Younger women feel more empowered, more equal to men, and have been beginning to exhibit the same uninhibited behaviors as men," said Chris Cochran of the California Office of Traffic Safety.
It does seem to be coded language for "Feminism drove Diane Schuler to drink and then to drive," an anti-feminist myth with dangerous repercussions.
I fully support an end to drunk driving and alcoholism, and my heart goes out to everyone who has ever lost someone to drunk driving. My beef is with the way the media is approaching the issue of women (and mothers) who drink. It's as if it takes the unthinkable for attention to turn on how to address women and alcoholism (this is in addition to the fact that the statistics don't quite tell the same story). Barbara Ehrenreich got it right when she said "Gender equality wouldn't be worth fighting for if all it meant was the opportunity to be as stupid and self-destructive as men can be."
I'm a little ashamed to admit that I completely mindlessly accepted that, on Bravo's Make Me A Supermodel, the modeling industry would require size 2 female model Salome to lose some weight in the hips, but got all outraged when they told male model and former ballet dancer Sandhurst that his thighs were too big for him to model jeans. And that it seemed plausible to me that female model Fo on America's Next Top Model was probably too short at 5'8" to make it in the industry, but that it was completely ludicrous that Make Me A Supermodel's Colin is too tall at 6'3". I feel bad now about my double standards!
Click read for the rest of the post. Picture of Sandhurst struggling to get denim over his self-described "thunder thighs." I'm not seeing it.