Women and drinking culture

I woke up today (the day after new years) to find a news article that unfortunately I am far too used to seeing- The Daily Mail article ‘Pictures that make me weep for today’s young women: SARAH VINE on how British society is in the grip of an out of control binge-drinking culture’. Pictured in many images were inebriated ‘young people’ and the author lamented the horrors of the British binge drinking culture.

Here’s the catch though- although the article was aimed at our ‘out of control binge-drinking culture’ much of the author’s wrath was directed at young women. Out of all the revellers pictured, no less than 28 were of drunk girls while only 6 men featured. The girls in the images were all attacked on their clothes and their inebriated state, for example, Sarah comments “One, a girl in red, has a huge wet patch visible on the back of her indecently short dress.” Firstly let me clarify here, one of the girl’s butt cheeks is quite clearly visible but this is not because she has gone out of her way to buy a revealing dress, simply that her dress has shifted slightly into the wrong position, there is no need at all to shame or humiliate this poor girl on what is quite clearly a simple wardrobe malfunction. Secondly “indecently short”, what is this the 50’s? A number of times I have seen grown men waltzing around the streets at night in the dreaded Borat mankini or even full frontal nudity as they race along egged on by their mates is staggering. It’s all fun and games but I don’t hear anyone bemoaning their “indecency”, if anyone is on a night out for a bit of fun, if children aren’t around and if they are not harassing anyone I don’t think what anyone wears is anyone else’s business let alone some poor girl in a red mini-dress.

My issue here is not with Sarah’s main argument in the article, that binge drinking is putting the NHS under strain, because quite frankly I agree with her. My issue is that the article is directed squarely at young women. Sarah lays the blame for the situation on “not the usual suspects – thuggish male louts or football hooligans – we see brawling and barfing their way to destruction, but young women” and I simply don’t understand how this argument can work.

Puzzled by these comments I did a little research and came across Alcohol Concern UK who released the following statistics:

  • Younger people tend to drink more heavily on a single occasion than older people 6% of men aged 65 and over had drunk heavily on at least one day in the previous week, compared with 19% of men aged 45-64
  • 193 males and 121 females between 15 and 34 years of age died from alcohol-related causes in 2011 in the UK
  • The number of alcohol-related hospital admissions of 15 to 24-year-old male patients increased by 57%, from 18,265 to 28,747 from 2002 to 2010
  • The number of hospital admissions of 15 to 24-year-old female patients increased at faster rate [76%], from 15,233 in 2002 to 26,908 in 2010

The statistics are pretty depressing however there is a clear trend here, young men are drinking more, dying more frequently and have to be hospitalised more than young women. Though a number of women being admitted to hospital has increased drastically (and this is an increase we need to address) there were still 1,839 more young  men admitted to hospital than women in 2010, that is almost 2,000 more men putting strain on the NHS than women in a single year so why are women to blame? Why are we held up to more strict scrutiny than males? Why can boys be boys but it isn’t acceptable when women act in a similar fashion?

I’ll be the first to admit that I like to go out and party with my friends. I’ll admit I’ve seen girls in a state being cared for by friends and I’ll even admit that yes I’m sure I have been one of those girls sat in the street with a tear stained face eating some takeaway chips, but it is simply not fair to blame young girls for the issues we face when clearly the numbers simply don’t add up. Men and women are equally to blame, they are equally responsible for their behaviour and should be equally ashamed when they misbehave but what is categorically unfair is that big newspapers like the Daily Mail miss-represent the facts and lead society to treat young, female party goers unfairly. It is such as shame to see that sexism is alive and well in 2017 and clearly this needs to be addressed, we need to get to the root of why, in this day and age, women are persecuted for the same behaviours that are acceptable in men.

The Daily Mail article is available here:




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