Drunk is the new barefoot and pregnant. Both work equally well to keep women from posing a threat to men in the marketplace, which may explain why “heavy drinking has been normalized” for the sex that isn’t built to metabolize alcohol.
Men can be stewed to the gills and nevertheless stay in high places for an entire career. For women, the distance from first drink to rode hard, put away wet is a lot shorter. It’s not fair, but the science is conclusive. Women have smaller bodies than men, and a smaller quantity of the enzymes needed to process toxins in the tequila.
Blood alcohol levels in women climb faster and stay elevated longer than they do in men. Women who can avoid debilitating hangovers, date rape and DUIs may have a harder time avoiding breast cancer, heart disease and atrophy of the brain. Liver disease starts earlier and progresses faster in women than in men. A woman may get on the wagon, but liver disease will continue to progress in ways it does not in a man who dries out.
When it comes to pleasures of the flesh, science is never a match for marketing, and marketing is the steamroller behind what The Washington Post calls a “profound cultural shift: Women in America are drinking far more, and far more frequently, than their mothers and grandmothers did, and alcohol consumption is killing them in record numbers.”
In 2013, more than a million of them turned up in emergency rooms. Middle-aged women were the demographic most likely to be suffering from severe intoxication.
Over in Africa, it’s always Wine O’Clock for a growing population of professional women who need to ” … unwind after a hard day’s work money to spend on more expensive drinks.”
For working moms and stay-at-home moms who don’t have time to wash stemware, there’s a wineglass big enough to hold an entire bottle of fruits of the vine with names like Mommy’s Time Out, Mommy Juice and Mommy’s Little Helper. It’s a road we’ve been down before, and even the Rolling Stones know where it ends.
Birth control and higher education have made it possible for girls of 20th-century vintage to gain a toehold on the ladder of success. But we won’t have equality until a drunk woman can go as far in life as a drunk man, and stay alive long enough to enjoy it.