A fitting end to Drunk Sluts Week…

Broadsheet links to this article by ex-Wonkette Ana Marie Cox, who takes on the recent warnings against girls going wild. She mentions James Garbarino’s new book, See Jane Hit, which examines “the less savory outcome of freeing girls to excel beyond gender stereotypes.” (Garbarino must have thought Mean Girls was poignent social commentary.) Cox takes his idea– that girls haven’t yet learned to deal with their freedom from gender norms– and argues that it’s fine for girls to go wild… just not too wild. I’m not sure if I buy this part of her argument, but I’ll run with it:

Freeing girls from stereotypes hasn’t made them more masculine, it’s made them more more. Unbound from cultural constraints, they don’t flip to the male side of the spectrum. They just flip out.

Hear that, Concerned Women for America? It’s not that alcohol is corrupting our pure, innocent young coeds. It’s that some women actually like drinking, dancing and having sex. What a revelation!

Maybe it would be progress if we had a definition of femininity expansive enough to include shaking one’s thing without raising one’s top — so that girls could go a little wild without having to rely on what we used to refer to as the “sorority girl’s mating call”: “I am soooo drunk.”

Cox basically gets it right where the AMA, Concerned Women for America, and Female Chauvinist Pigs get it wrong. There’s certainly a way to embrace your sexuality and have fun dancing and drinking without being exploited or jeopardizing your safety. I think a lot of women walk that line quite successfully.
But it makes for better television to show us girls in bikinis doing body shots on South Padre Island, and it suits CWA’s agenda to point to women like Natalee Holloway and Imette St. Guillen as examples of what will happen if girls party and enjoy it. It’s simply not newsworthy that there are there are lots of women who get drunk and just spend the night dancing with their girlfriends, who are willing to flash their friends for a laugh but never a camera crew, who make out with strangers at a bar and then arrive home safely.
If there’s any justice in this world, next week we’ll be seeing a slew of studies and hand-wringing over the growing problem of urban sausages.

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5 Comments

  1. Ismone
    Posted April 1, 2006 at 12:47 am | Permalink

    Look, I really love feministing, but I am sick of people bashing Female Chauvanist Pigs without having read it. Based on what you say, and based on the previous post you link to, it seems that you haven’t. What Ariel Levy is concerned with is the fact that oversexed behavior is not liberating when it is as mandatory as wearing a skirt to school was when my mom was growing up. She also critiques the way that women pick on eachother for not being one of the guys. She does stretch it a bit, but the book really makes you think. She asks the right questions, sometimes she just tries to hard to be able to answer them, and do so simply.

  2. The Happy Feminist
    Posted April 1, 2006 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    It’s interesting that in the AMA study, only 1 in 5 women regretted sexual activity they engaged in on spring break. In other words, 80% of the respondents who engaged in sexual activity on spring break did NOT regret it.
    I think that the increased acceptance of casual sex in our culture is only bad if a feminist consciousness does not accompany it. As Isomone said, oversexed behavior is not liberating when it is mandatory. The ideal is a culture in which women feel free to have sex or not have sex as they see fit. (And of course I’m talking about safe sex!)

  3. ann
    Posted April 3, 2006 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Ismone– I have read Female Chauvinist Pigs. I certainly agree with Levy that mandatory oversexed behavior is not liberating. But I think she falls short in failing to get at the roots of this phenomenon. The way I read it, Levy seemed to place all blame squarely on women, rather than on patriarchy, where it belongs (not to put too fine a feminist point on it). And I found that frustrating. Not to say that “female chauvinist pigs” are helpless creatures who aren’t in control of their actions. But I really wanted Levy to get at broader social forces that pressure them to act the way they do.
    Kara Jesella addressed a lot of my other issues with the book, so I’ll just link to her piece.
    In short, I guess we agree that Levy is asking a lot of the right questions. I just don’t think she answers them very well.

  4. Ismone
    Posted April 4, 2006 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Sorry for assuming that you hadn’t read it–my bad. I’ll check out the Jesella piece. Thanks! Iz

  5. suvetar
    Posted April 25, 2006 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    So now “having regrets” is so dangerous that we must imprison ourselves lest someday we…what, have a regret? HORRORS! Where is my nail file!? I used that there power tool and ruined my press-on, and now I REGRET IT!!!!!!!!!! No more power tools for me!
    Following this story here and elsewhere–the one where, ohmigod women are getting drunk and doing it well–is making me seriously consider getting off the wagon. I mean, I grew up in a heavy alcohol culture, went through the bingeing and such, and figured out it was too expensive. Unruly promiscuous sex was easier to fit with a day job and farming, and much more fun, and gave me more beloved friends in the long run to grow old with. Plus drinking made me feel sick and stupid, which sex never did.
    But the episodes of unruly drinking as a grrlwoman apparently didn’t do anything all that bad to me physically, mentally, etc. I’m over 60 and can still throw more hay bales than any twentysomething guy I’ve met recently. Plus my REGRETS (oh no! not regrets!) are a lot smaller than, say, regretting the sixty hours I wasted in my life, mildly considering having kids. I decided not to; they were even more expensive than booze; you get good at economics, running a cash grain farm.
    But economics aside. What do we learn from the great teachers anyway?
    The whole point of excess is to exceed. Period.
    Some people choose moderation. Some don’t.
    Sometimes there are regrets. A lot of times there aren’t.
    The path of excess leads to wisdom. Or stupidity. Or nothing. Your mileage may vary.
    Who the hell ever achieved enlightenment–or liberation–without getting their hands dirty?
    And isn’t self-forgiveness as well as other-forgiveness (i.e., compassion) at the heart of any religion or philosophy worth the name? NOT judgment. NOT regret. NOT sniffing-down-the-nose-with-corporate-mass-media-pundit-superiority.
    What is it that t-shirt says–religion is for those afraid of hell, spirituality is for those who’ve already been there.
    Oh wait. I forgot. That’s what those dewy-eyed pastel-ruffled born-again ladies are offering, right? Become a brood cow for Jeebis, or anyway his Appointed Male Priest Wanna-Be–i.e., hubbins–and then you’re saved. No regrets for you, right?
    Uh huh. I can tell you from twenty-five years humping a grain combine in the rural Midwest ALL about what those regret-free lives lead to, on the deathbed.
    And I’ve met a damn lotta women my age and older whose reproach-free lives culminated in fierce regrets about the simplest human things–that they never got drunk, laid their girlfriend with love and licks, or howled at the moon. Just as they damn well felt like.
    Man. You want to pressure somebody about Having Regrets, why not make the regrets substantive?
    I mean, you wanna talk “social toxicity,” as Garbarino does, what’s worse? An empire’s cluster bombs launched for profit against small poor nations? Or a girl showing her tits?
    (Whoa. Wait one. Tits are toxic? Wow, I am SERIOUSLY failing to keep up with the latest science. Here I thought they were just these sometimes-cute/usually neutral bags of fat hanging off the fronts of some humans that sometimes serve to feed milk to larval humans. Silly me. Here I go thinking the big problem is the global class war, the bipolarization of the economy, the insanity of agricultural civilization, pollution, war, violence, oppression, and cruelty–and all along it was toxic tits.)
    As for the whining about The Day After. So you got drunk, got laid, whatever, and it wasn’t your shiningest hour. Big deal. Welcome to humanity. You played with fire and got burned? Next time you’ll be more careful. Welcome to freedom, honey. The flip out has a flip side. But you’ll find your way. Come to auntie if you want to talk, not reporters, OK? Auntie has a teapot and all the time in the world. Screw community, authority, and supervision. What you need is a crone with a tude.
    BTW, if I want to suck down a bottle of Jameson’s in the course of an evening, and bang whoever I want, however I want, probably carrying a whip (I’m the fierce-in-the-clutch type), that’s my business. Any men not man enough to stand up to it isn’t worth pissing past in a strong wind. Any woman not woman enough isn’t hanging with me.
    Sometimes we just knit. Jameson’s in the teapot or tea. Whatever.
    auntie suvetar

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