On drinking culture
It’s something that I’ve noticed, but not something I’ve figured out yet. The pervasiveness of drinking culture in every aspect of life. Moreso, the of push booze onto women. And how it becomes normal to drink for every little situation. You’re a mom? You need a drink to help cope. You experienced sexism? Time for a glass of wine. Summers coming up? Get this bag or these heels that have secret compartments for flasks.
Back when I drank, I didn’t know what was normal. I didn’t know that other people can have a single glass of wine or beer and not obsess over only having a single glass or freak out that they aren’t having a second. I didn’t know that people don’t feel anxious when they are waiting to drink. Or that most people aren’t waiting to go drink. I didn’t know that people didn’t walk around feeling the inner shame of their alcohol obsession. Plainly, I didn’t know that other people didn’t have an obsession with alcohol.
And now, three years sober I’ve noticed how much women have a strange pressure to drink. My friends, by now, know that I’m sober. But other women will regularly comment that I need or deserve a drink for whatever minute inconvenience of life or success. Why is it that we say these things to one another?
At the end of my drinking I primarily drank wine. It was cheap. It got me drunk. I could easily lie to myself and say that I was adult because, “look I’m drinking wine and cooking dinner, this is what adults do.” My dinner consisted of a bottle of five dollar wine, eggs or chips and salsa. I drank from the same wine glass every day.
Since stopping, it appears as if I’m not the only one who equates wine with other things. However, to me, it appears that wine is often equated with women and their experiences.
“An ad on the Etsy marketplace website promotes a stemmed glass big enough to hold an entire bottle of wine with the line: ‘She will be telling the truth when she says ‘I only had 1 glass.’ ‘ And Urban Outfitters — a retailer that markets to 18- to 28-year-olds — stocks whole-bottle wine glasses that say: ‘Drink until your dreams come true” and ‘This is how you adult.’” -Washington Post
A few days ago I won a little prize during a meeting at work. A fancy beer and wine bottle opener. I looked at it and thought, “how is this normal to give to someone at work?” Many times during the workday drinking is brought up. And it’s not just at my current job. It’s been at every job I’ve ever had since I started working in offices at 19. I don’t quite understand it or have a set theory about why this might be, other than questions: are we so unable to create earnest relationships that we must relate to each other via alcohol?, is alcohol and drinking the greatest equalizer we have?, do we have fewer coping skills in america and does any of this have to do with an individualized, capitalist society?
I think about my friends from abroad. A woman I met from Spain who talked about how she and her family and friends ate late at night and would drink glasses of wine. “That’s just when we get together.” The emphasis was on the tradition and rituals of eating the meal and companionship. Others seemed to have similar stories. A time to get together. Whereas what I observe is a time for a person to deal with life via drinking and she may do it alone or with friends. But the emphasis is on the individual.
… And then I saw this video on my Facebook newsfeed.
The video showed a needing to drink at work or waiting in line. If these products were available to me back when I was in active addiction, I wonder if I would have used them. I felt a deep sadness watching the woman drinking concealed drinks at her desk. Not just because it reminded me of addiction, but it’s like saying,
“there’s no way women can handle all the stress in the world without coping with alcohol.”
At the end of the day, that’s what upset me. The normalization of drinking culture on women is not a time we truly bond during a get together. It’s a normalization of not being able to deal with life without drinking. It’s a, “you deserve a drink” to get through whatever it is you’re going through. It’s a “there’s no way you can experience life” and all of its ups and downs without drinking. It’s a “your identity as a woman” is tied to wine instead of the other thousands of experiences we share. Most of all, these reminders happen throughout the day, whether in or out of the office. It is commonplace and normalized; there’s no one person at fault for it. But that doesn’t mean we have to continue to push this on one another.
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