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."