Monday, October 31, 2011

On Binge Drinking

Recovery Position: So your drunk doesn't pull a Jimi Hendrix. 

Pursuant to my adventure this weekend (short version of the story: S & I assisted a VERY drunk undergrad who had locked herself out of her house)-- some thoughts, in no particular order:
  • Should anyone find themselves in a similar situation to the one we were in: if you are even THINKING about calling the rescue squad, CALL THE RESCUE SQUAD. While you are waiting for the rescue squad, here is a guide for how to attend to them.
  • Binge-drinking culture is frustrating and upsetting, particularly in its effect on young women.
  • I see this culture expressed far more here at [Big State University] where I attend grad school, than I did as an undergrad at [Offbeat Liberal Arts College]. Not that people didn't like intoxication there; they loved it. On the other hand, we had no greek life, pot was probably as popular (if not more so) than alcohol, and if someone was getting trashed, there was a very strong possibility they would be quoting Dostoyevsky in the process. Which is why I occasionally am still shocked.
  • I suspect that Dan Savage is largely correct when he says that one thing feeding binge-drinking culture is sexual puritanism: specifically, as long as society frowns on displays of sexual agency (particularly by the female-identified), people will get blackout drunk, have anonymous sex, and then blame the booze.
  • Would I have behaved differently if the person who needed assistance had not been a.) female, b.) white, c.) young, or d.) clearly middle class? What is the correct way to balance fighting one's internalized racism, sexism, and classism, while nevertheless maintaining a legitimate concern for one's own safety (the legitimacy of said concern, by the way, extends only as far as male vs. female bodied--much as I may not like it, I'm not exactly Venus Williams, and I'm not sure how much it would be wise to insert myself into a situation with a drunk who was bigger and stronger than I am.)
  • Lurid pink drink mixes are a.) representative of a frustrating trend of disguising alcohol as candy and thus encouraging drinking to the point of blackout, b.) specifically targeted at (again) young women, c.) perpetuate rape culture (a term I do not use lightly) by encouraging a breed of sexually uninhibited behavior that is totally divorced from any reasonable notion of agency d.) a barbarous way to treat perfectly good ethanol.
  • It is appalling to me that [Big State University] lacks a medical amnesty policy. This is an excellent way to get people killed.
  • As countless older, wiser friends have counseled me, there is a smart way to do dumb shit, and then there is a stupid way. I accept that, for most people, only firsthand experience will teach them that drinking to the point of blackout and/or vomiting is not that much fun. This was certainly true for me. However, the handful of times it took for me to learn this, I was in a safe environment with trustworthy people, at least one of whom was relatively sober. I urge anyone who still needs to learn this lesson to do the same.
Image by Rama. Used under a Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0 license.

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