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Women and alcohol

CW: discussions of alcohol consumption, alcoholism, sexism

I’m wondering what you all think of this article about women, sexism and alcohol consumption.


It was shared by my roommate on Facebook - a teetotaler who is also one of the most passive-aggressive and judgmental people I know, so my immediate reaction (as a woman who very much enjoys alcohol) was to get my back up. Although the author makes some interesting points, I feel like she’s making the mistake of thinking people only drink to blunt the edge of life’s shittiness, and not for the sheer pleasure of it, aside from any oppressive or depressing life circumstances. This idea that everyone is “tanked” in order to deal with sexist bullshit is kind of reductionist, imo. (Also, I want to know what kind of crazy-ass office she works in that has several stocked bars, plus wine at everyone’s desks? And what kind of pharmacy has self-serve beer taps?! Yes, there are a dearth of sober spaces but...Kristi Coulter does not seem to live in the same world I live in.)

I definitely derive a lot of enjoyment from alcohol consumption, but there’s so much more to it than just getting blitzed. There is the social element, but there’s also the aesthetic and gustatory pleasure of a well-crafted beverage. And while I do enjoy a glass of bourbon at the end of the day as a way to de-stress from a difficult day, I also imbibe for other reasons, including to purely enjoy the taste - the same way I love a cup of black coffee in the morning both because it’s delicious and because the caffeine helps me get through my day. My partner and I have gotten really into tiki culture recently, for example, and have learned to make a lot of the old midcentury cocktail recipes. We enjoy it for so many reasons - the cocktails are delicious, the aesthetic is cool, the cultural history is fascinating, and oh yeah, we also enjoy what we affectionately refer to as “tiki drunk,” which is that particularly happy, euphoric feeling you get after drinking a couple rum-based cocktails out of a goddamn flaming volcano.

I think alcohol consumption (like food and eating) is complex and motivated by multiple factors. It can become pathological, but it isn’t inherently. Would I still drink if sexism and structural oppression weren’t a thing? Yes, I would. I hardly ever get “tanked” because I don’t enjoy the feeling and I get very hungover. But just as I don’t drink ten cups of coffee a day because I would vibrate out of my own skin, I can moderate my alcohol consumption, as well. I find it ironic that this author gets angry about men trying to tell her how she should feel about herself and her own lived experiences in the world and then goes on to presume she understands everyone’s motivations for imbibing. It’s patronizing, imo. When my roommate posted this article, she wrote that she “[finds] the crutch of alcohol a sad one, particularly when it takes over women’s identities.” I thought that seemed like some puritanical bullshit, to be honest. I enjoy alcohol but it is not my entire identity and it is not a crutch. It may be for some and if anyone feels they have a problem with it, I would never presume to tell them otherwise, and I wouldn’t judge someone for choosing not to drink.

But I’m wondering if my own defensiveness is preventing me from seeing the author’s larger point, about how we learn to cope with the daily trials of living in a patriarchy. So, what are your thoughts?

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