RONZONE: Alcohol and women



Raquel Ronzone

The newest measure of women’s progress is by the ounce – not the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s classic “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” or Hillary Clinton’s recent campaign for presidency or any other instance of female empowerment throughout history.

In the struggle for yet another dimension of gender parity, women are catching up to men, teetering forward with one drink, one nauseous stomach and one unsteady footstep at a time.

Reports converge in a sobering picture of women binge drinking. Now more than ever, women are drinking with the sole intent of getting drunk, turning to alcohol in ways once predominantly practiced by men.

Some experts suggest that women are behaving this way simply because they can. The traditional value of temperance and the responsibility to stay at home are not often expected of or imposed on modern women.

After living under controlling practices for decades, women are asserting themselves through nights of inebriated recklessness, sometimes recalling the debauchery only with the assistance of a camera.

Furthermore, society has lifted the stigma of female drinkers while inadvertently glorifying the excessive consumption of alcohol by featuring party-weary celebrities on tabloid covers and recounting their antics during nightly news broadcasts.

Other experts suggest that women’s attitudes toward and treatment of alcohol reflect their interpretations of equality between the sexes: because women are now capable of working alongside men, holding positions of authority in male-dominated fields and earning just as much or more than what their boyfriends and husbands earn, they want to socialize as men do, an occasion that often involves alcohol.

Regardless of their reasons for drinking, women are suffering as a consequence.

For one, women generally become intoxicated faster than men do because women have more fat and less water in their bodies, states Princeton University Women’s Center, quoting statistics from National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information.

That intoxication can lead to undesirable, immediate consequences – poor decision-making, embarrassment, regret, accidents, injuries, blackouts, memory loss and academic or criminal records.

Putting a figure on the effects of excessive drinking, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that, each year, 600,000 college students aged 18 to 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Sexual encounters bear particular concern to female drinkers. The majority of sexual assault victims are women.

Citing the NCADI, Princeton University Women’s Center states that 60 percent of college women who developed a sexually transmitted disease were under the influence of alcohol at the time they had intercourse.

The Princeton resource also quotes Duke University, who reported national estimates that up to 90 percent of sexual assaults involve use of alcohol either by the perpetrator, victim or both. 

The prevalence of such events is startling: the NIAA states that 70,000 college students aged 18 to 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest reports that, annually, more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.

Worse still, more serious health problems can await women after a few alcohol-drenched years.

Although the medical community is continuously trying to understand drinking’s negative effects, alcohol has been associated with long-term consequences like brain and liver damage, heart disease, complications to unborn children and, according to some professionals, breast cancer.

If this sordid reality becomes the definitive gauge of women’s empowerment, then the suffragettes will surely roll in their graves.

Women’s drunkenness is not a sign of their progress throughout the centuries, but merely a pandering to mostly male customs.

Ironically, as feminist foremothers sought to make men more like temperate women, today’s female pro-women advocates are trying to make themselves more like brazen, uninhibited men – and are only hurting themselves and their own reputations in the process.

It is time that women devote themselves to real issues of gender discrimination.


Raquel Ronzone is a sophomore communication major from Philadelphia, Pa. She can be reached at [email protected].