Women Who Drink

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More and more women are regularly drinking alchohol...and in greater quantities! We look into whether gender equality in drinking is something to strive for, and what the health implications could be. Alex Morris wrote the article "Women Who Drink" in the Dec. 8 issue of New York magazine; Dr. Rick Grucza is professor of psychology at the Washington University School of Medicine.


Dr. Rick Grucza and Alex Morris

Comments [43]

Christine from Manhattan

Give me a break! I am nearly 40 and my generation drinks far less then my parents (baby boomers) and my parents' parents. I have seen women binge drinking just like men throughout my lifetime, especially in collage. There has been no recent sudden change in the social acceptance of women drinking. Binge drinking is unhealthy and unsafe for both men and women. It is entirely sexist to single out women in a discussion of the social acceptability of excessive drinking.

Dec. 18 2008 03:55 PM
B. from NYC

I suspect that a bourgeois sense of entitlement is as much the issue in this as is anything. Sorry, but I live in a NYC neighborhood where at late hours in the night, young women can be spotted puking into trash cans. Given the number of bars on my block, something like ten or more, I doubt it's a batch of bad shrimp that causes this reaction. I remember chasing some drunken twenty-somethings off of the roof of the building I lived in (and under) and how one of them announced to the world as she ran away that she was "better than you are." Never was that less true.

What I find fascinating about this, and in particular the response to Susan Cheever's piece is this sort of notion that a great many of the basic laws of existence are supposed to have been suspended for the so-called "younger generation." Somehow the obnoxious behaviour that was obnoxious in their parents is supposed to be charming in them.

Cheever herself? Well, aging out of some bad habits is a recogniseable fact of life. It's common with criminals. And anyway, only the drunks thought that they were all that fun to be around.

Dec. 17 2008 03:12 PM
peter from manhatten

having lived in europe, i think that americans are quite well behaved when it comes to alcohol. we don't have a binge drink culture here unlike much of europe (especially the uk). if women here want to have a few drinks and have fun, i don't see the harm to anybody.

Dec. 17 2008 12:46 PM
anonyme from NY NY

I am not much of a drinker - I don't tolerate it well - but I do remember being in a bistro in Paris with some French friends and their Danish and Finnish friends - the Scandinavians told me if you don't accept a drink in one of their countries, you will be asked if you have a medical problem! I suspect that European kids drink less and mischief less because they have to pass their "bac" or A levels - harder than graduating from a US HS -

Dec. 17 2008 12:41 PM
Anita from Brooklyn

I am a 25 yr old woman who has recently chosen to abstain from drinking entirely. I've never really particularly enjoyed drinking, and it's always distressed me that it's as if most people are incapable of socializing unless they are drinking. The pressure to drink brought on by other people in a social situation if you are not drinking, especially as a young person is so oppressive. People sometimes act as if it is an affront to them personally if you are not drinking. I wish people would find ways to hang out without drinking. Who knows we might really get close with other people and actually get to know them.

Dec. 17 2008 12:41 PM
Lisa Sack from Brooklyn

Am I the only listener who finds this segment highly disturbing? Aren't there lots of other ways to have fun without consuming alcohol? As a 50 year-old woman, I'm appalled to hear that this is what young women are choosing to do with their time and as the mother of a 10 year-old girl, I would consider myself to have failed abysmally as a parent if my daughter drank to the excess described.

Dec. 17 2008 12:41 PM
Gerry from Hoboken

Please mention for those who men and women who feel they can't stop alone there is plenty of help out there.

They do not have lack of will power or mental control, it is a disease, an allergy to alcohol so to speak.

Dec. 17 2008 12:41 PM
Mattea from Manhattan

Camille Paglia is coming to mind. I remember CP in 1991 saying that - I paraphrase - that while NO does mean NO, that a sorority sister who gets so drunk that she doesn't have control over herself is basically stupid to rely on NO meaning NO. She's likely to get in trouble and is just dumb for putting herself in such a vulnerable position. AGain, I paraphrase.

I'd like to believe that people could be always moral and govern themselves, but I wouldn't get "pass-out" drunk at a frat kegger for a million bucks.

Dec. 17 2008 12:41 PM
Laura Gale from nyc

Have you considered the health benefits of drinking 1 or 2 drinks each day? Said to be better than not drinking and more beneficial than daily exercise.

Dec. 17 2008 12:41 PM
Janet from Hudson Valley

What are this guest's credentials?? She wrote a magazine article, that's it? She drinks?

Not only do her Sss's drive me batty as Offended is Brooklyn mentioned, but her phrasing "I think..." leading off every sentence has driven me to shut off the radio.

When she said she was in her 20s, it was not a shock. Her perspective is clearly immature. Why are you not pressing her for some actual facts rather than letting her spout her youthful opinion??

Get her some diction lessons to fix her sibilant problem!!

Dec. 17 2008 12:40 PM
1111 from brooklyn

I think it also relates to the fact that younger American men no longer "date," they just expect to "hook up" with girls at parties. So, women who hope to possibly have a boyfriend go along with this culture because there are few other options.

Dec. 17 2008 12:40 PM
Frank Trocola from Brooklyn

I remember a time in Connecticut that women were not allowed to sit at a bar without qa male escort. It had something to do with prostitution

Dec. 17 2008 12:40 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Hmmm, incomplete typing in my previous post. I thought the days of women being treated like little girls was over and I meant to say the booze isn't blamed when men do things while drinking, why is it to blame when women have too much. This whole segment is nothing but excuses for irresponsible people.

Dec. 17 2008 12:40 PM
John from Midtown

These women need an intervention, NOW.

Dec. 17 2008 12:39 PM
j from new york

I am shocked by how casually the subject of date rape is being treated and I am surprised that it has not been clarified that no whether a woman is sober or not, rape is never okay, and never her fault. This blame the victim stance seems so anachronistic.

Dec. 17 2008 12:39 PM
suki from williamsburg

I think America's puritanical response to alcohol (and moderation in general) is a greater problem than the alcohol itself.

I grew up with wine on the table and while I drink socially - I have never had this problem with binge drinking that my peers here in America seem to have.

Dec. 17 2008 12:38 PM
tash from les

I agree with rick.
This article and radio discussion, while trying to be helpful very much has a "save women from themselves" twist.
There are broader societal issues that have been touched on (like date rape) that are not the product of women drinking- date rape would still be an issue if we were in prohibition, but of living in a society where women are considered responsible for both their actions and those acted upon them.

Dec. 17 2008 12:38 PM
Stacy from NJ

I just finished a graduate class on substance abuse. In doing my research paper, I learned that college aged Caucasian women are now binge drinking as much as men, as opposed to Latinas or African American women. It's been proposed that less protective families and more egalitarian parenting for White girls may be part of the reason. And apparantly, Utube is full of videos of college girls binging.

Dec. 17 2008 12:37 PM

Gender equality is the emptiest of slogans unless we are prepared to think hard and deep about in what respects and why. Men do plenty of stupid things, and we should not try to match men in regard to these things. If our reason for doing something is that men have done them and we have not, we have really lost the battle because we have lost sight of what we ought to be fighting for.

Dec. 17 2008 12:35 PM

Pink beer doesn't appeal to adults--it appeals most to teens. And manufacturers know it.

I suspected something was off about the Spuds Mackenzie campaign when I saw my 14-year-old niece had a 4-foot Spuds stuffed animal in her bedroom.

She later developed a serious drinking problem in high school.

Dec. 17 2008 12:35 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

So… None of this is actually the woman’s fault for drinking getting inebriated? As Leonard just said… are women really duped that easily? Adult consequences for adult actions. I thought the days of adult women being treated like little girls who need daddy’s and husband’s permission before checking into a hospital, getting a checking account and having a job.
Alcohol beverage manufactures are blamed when a man commits date rape, cheats on his wife, kills a family of four on the turnpike, or gets into fisticuffs from drinking; the man is blamed. Learn to take responsibility for your actions or don’t drink.

Dec. 17 2008 12:34 PM
Steve from Hoboken, NJ

What about the morning after? It may be fun to get a little (or a lot drunk), but it isn't without it's consequences. I retired from recreational drinking when I came to the conclusion that it wasn't worth the hangover.

Dec. 17 2008 12:33 PM

p.s. Oh my God! women drink?? what is this 1958. no kidding. welcome to the world of gender equality. gotta take the good with the bad, folks.

give me a break!

Dec. 17 2008 12:31 PM
Offended from Brooklyn

First, I don't know what parties Susan Cheever is going to. I see drunk people at parties all the time. I'm in my mid-thirties and I see plenty of people older than me drunk at social events. (Work, family, etc.)

Second, this show is offending me like I've never been offended by your show. I probably drink too much some times but I am offended by the tone of this conversation. Women like to let go of their inhibitions and not have that voice telling them they're being "naughty?" Ew. Her stupid-sounding "s" hissing isn't helping her cause either.

I would never drink a pink beer. I don't drink because I admire (even secretly) Lindsay Lohan. I drink because I like being drunk.

And saying women shouldn't drink or they'll get raped. Ok, sure, women should be responsible for their actions. But come on! Men have no control over themselves?

Dec. 17 2008 12:30 PM
Zach from Brooklyn

One drink a night in a night out is just ridiculous. The only time I can do that is if I'm really full. If you have one drink an hour you can be fine, not get drink, yet still imbibe.

Dec. 17 2008 12:29 PM
Jenn from Manhattan

Is it perhaps that culturally women used to stay home more but cocktail hour was more popular. Women work more jobs today and are home less so feel the need to binge in a sense to get it in. Versus having a drink or two at 5pm with the husband or bridge playing friends every night. Now with a busy schedule you drink over dinner or work meetings. Or late at night when you get home or overdue it on friday night to relieve 'stress' of long week.

Dec. 17 2008 12:28 PM
Mattea from Manhattan

Thanks, other commenters. I immediately thought of Sex and the City too! In fact, I worked in restaurants at the time and remember that every college girl was suddenly ordering Cosmos.

Dec. 17 2008 12:28 PM
MG from Park Slope

Has anyone mentioned cultural difference? I know in the UK, women drink like fishes. And medical recommendations offered by doctors there are vastly different when compared to the US.

Dec. 17 2008 12:27 PM

as a 36 y.o. male I find this whole discussion condescending to women. women may have have a naturally lower tolerance but they have just as much right to drink as men my experience most can keep up with the boys more or less.

Dec. 17 2008 12:26 PM
Tony from San Jose, CA

How about lowering the drinking age to say, 14. I was born in France, and I've been drinking since I can remember. I still drink a glass of wine at night, and I don't really understand why kids here are obsessed with getting drunk.

Dec. 17 2008 12:26 PM
Kai from Germany

I'm wondering why our legal age in Germany is 16 for beer. Do we handle drinks more carefully?

When I was 16 I never saw girls buying beer at the supermarket....

Dec. 17 2008 12:26 PM
judy from brooklyn

perfect timing for this discussion.
I've been binge drinking the past year or so, only on girls nights (?). the other night my husband called me for two hours when I was out getting wasted! I was too drunk to realize it. yuk. Needless to say I woke the next morning, and decided that's enough- no more!

Dec. 17 2008 12:25 PM
thomas from brooklyn

Leonard has a point with the taboo factor. When I go to visit cousins and family in Europe, teens and 20somethings don't drink half the amount or with half the determination that American high school and college students do. What data suggests that a lowered drinking age would really lead to more binge drinking when, if i remember correctly, the Amethyst movement (what Leonard referenced) is supported by something like 200 colleges and universities?

Dec. 17 2008 12:24 PM
rachel from nyc

Why hasn't "Sex and the City" come up yet? We're talking about this mysterious switch to cocktails occuring around the year 2000, which is about the same time that women everywhere were discovering a show which may have been more aptly titled "Cocktails and the City."

Dec. 17 2008 12:23 PM
judy from NYC

Cool, hot women drink in Tv shows and movies, much like they used to smoke in the past. Wouldn't that affect women's choices?

Dec. 17 2008 12:23 PM
Anne from NYC

Would the guests comment on women in fraternity settings who drink and become vulnerable to sexual assault? I think there is a denial on the part of women of this major area of inherent gender inequality.

Dec. 17 2008 12:22 PM

Seems to me that it is young women feeling that they are free to do as they like without restriction. Unfortunately in this case it may not be without repercussion.

Dec. 17 2008 12:21 PM
sgmason from New York City

It is a well known fact that people who have a drink outside of work hours with work colleagues, will inevitably end up with higher salaries than their non-drinking peers. Buddy's hire buddy's.

Dec. 17 2008 12:21 PM
Nancy from NYC

Shocked to hear that women's bodies aren't generally as good at metabolizing alcohol -- I'm a fairly small woman with a top-flight ability to handle copious amounts of booze without losing control or getting sick!

That said, we should be educating people to respect the power of alcohol and teaching them how to drink safely. Plus, lower the drinking age back to 18 to remove the "forbidden fruit" attractiveness of (irresponsible) drinking.

Dec. 17 2008 12:21 PM
Melissa from Brooklyn

I'm 24 years old, and I don't drink at all. I never really have. I never liked it, or the way it made me feel. It's always water for me when I go out with friends.

Dec. 17 2008 12:20 PM
sophie from manhattan

I always thought "Sex in the city" glamourized alcohol consumption.

Dec. 17 2008 12:16 PM
MichaelB from UWS Manhattan

C'mon Leonard. Bette Friedan and other feminists thinkers may not have endorsed drinking specifically, but you can't excuse the movers and shakers of ANY social movement, when changes bring unintended consequences. That is naive.

Dec. 17 2008 12:14 PM
Tom from DC

What are women drinking? I drink my fair share but I stick to beer, and micro-brews at that, no "American Lagers". But I don't see a lot of women drinking beers. They appear to drink liquor and cocktails more. Is that true?

Dec. 17 2008 12:13 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.