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Alcohol: The Other Wage Gap

Back in 2006, a study by the Reason Foundation showed that drinkers make 10-14% more than their non-drinking counterparts.  The discrepancy was attributed to social capital:

"Social drinking builds social capital," said Stringham, an economics professor at San Jose State University. "Social drinkers are networking, building relationships, and adding contacts to their Blackberries that result in bigger paychecks."

Although this is interesting in it’s own right, it’s no surprise to me (as a non-drinker myself) and I’m writing about it because it raises an issue of intersectionality.

My gateway to feminism was not a women’s studies class, or a mentor, but a life as a child of an alcoholic family.  The first 18 years of my life were spent working harder than my peers to achieve the same things, dealing with obstacles that seemed invisible to others, and striving to be the opposite of everything society scorned and shamed my family members for.

After succeeding, surviving, and making my way into a top notch university, I was blindsided by a double standard.  I found myself scorned and excluded for choosing not to drink, occasionally overtly, but much more often through subtle cultural means.

So when I began to learn about feminist ideas, things were very familiar. The double standards, subtle cultural biases, etc. were all immediately understandable by analogy to my own experiences.  I saw a natural ally in the feminist community.

Not many people recognize non-drinkers as a group worth considering, but the wage gap shows that ...

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