Feminists Didn’t Drive Women to Alcohol

Second Wave Feminism Isn't to Blame for Increased Female Drinking

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.

In an otherwise interesting and informative piece, New York magazine tries to blame the rising rate of drinking among women and especially among young girls on second wave feminism. There are only some half-million reasons for teens' and children's increased use of booze, but I would put feminism way down on the list. Why not blame the rise in the war on drugs? The government's 30-year war has failed in most areas, but it has succeeded in one thing: shifting addictive personalities from illegal drugs to legal alcohol, whether the addict is male or female.

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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. "As women 'immigrated' into the culture that was once unique to men," says Grucza, "they picked up a lot of the same mores and attitudes and behaviors and ideas about what is socially acceptable that men had previously held. We call this acculturation—people adopt the drinking attitude and behaviors of the dominant culture." Which explains why researchers have found that women in the demographic closest to being dominant (young, white, middle-class, educated) are leading the charge in terms of increased alcohol consumption. The trend is so pronounced that in Britain, home to the Bridget Joneses of the world, public-health officials launched an ad campaign picturing a grizzled man in drag (or a very mannish woman) with the caption: "If you drink like a man, you might end up looking like one." But no public-service announcement is likely to turn back this tide, especially among the very young. In the 12-to-17-year-old demographic, there is no gender gap at all. These girls are drinking as early and as often and as much as the boys.