College Party Girls Find Themselves In Perilous Positions

Illustration for article titled College Party Girls Find Themselves In Perilous Positions

A new study from the University at Buffalo suggests that the transition between high school and college is an especially fraught one for young American women: According to researchers, the increasing number of sexual assaults on freshman females can be explained by a number of things, including "psychological symptoms during the first year at college, number of consensual sexual partners and increased drinking." The problem with the study, however, is not its veracity — it makes sense that mentally-ill women who abuse alcohol and engage in numerous sexual encounters are more likely to be victimized — but its language: The wording implies that women shouldn't be indulging in risky behaviors because they need to be ever-vigilant in protecting their sacred lady flowers. More ridiculously, there is no responsibility whatsoever placed on the men doing the sexual assaulting.

According to Science Daily, Buffalo researchers speculate that "The physically disinhibiting effects of alcohol for new drinkers may cause them to be more reactive, possibly verbally aggressive, or more likely to call attention to themselves, thereby putting themselves at risk for physical aggression in social drinking situations." And then there's the news that young women are out-drinking boys. James Garbarino, a member of the humanistic psychology department at Loyola University, tells the Washington Post, "When you take off the shackles, you release all kind of energy — negative and positive...By letting girls loose to experience America more fully, it's not surprising that they would absorb some of its toxic environment." We need those shackles to save us from ourselves, apparently! But Deborah Prothrow-Stith, a professor of public health at Harvard, asks the question that's also on our lips: "'Why wouldn't you expect girls to behave [like boys]?' Girls and women are closing all the other gaps." Should this necessarily be a cause for alarm? Not that alcohol abuse is ideal or should be encouraged in young women, but why should women be expected to have fewer vices than men do?

Drinking And Abuse: Dangerous Transition From High School To College For Women [Science Daily]
Catching Up To The Boys, In The Good And The Bad [Washington Post]
Sex, Drugs And Alcohol: Parents Still Influence College Kids' Risky Behavior, Study Shows [Science Daily]

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In all fairness, it was a study ABOUT women. Why WOULD they talk about boys habits, proclavites, and areas in need of improvement? And a 110 freshman outdrinking a guy IS reason for concern, because women don't metabolize alcohol as efficently as men, regardless of height and weight. (Please do not regale me with antecdotal tales of outdrinking the gents, girls. We've all done it at one point, it doesn't change the fact that we metabolize liquor differently.) We DO need to be more careful in that sense.