According to a recent study, girls as young as thirteen are consuming as much alcohol as early as boys. If you're a reasonable human person over the age of, like, sixteen (+/- 2 years), your response to this tidbit will most likely be, "That seems unhealthy that children as young as thirteen are consuming alcoholic beverages. It's probably not very good for their brain development." If, however, you're like Dr. Ken "Concerned Mansplainer" Flegel, this information will fill you with a desire to sneakily victim-blame.
Dr. Flegel was recently penned an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal titled "Big alcohol catches up with adolescent girls." In it, he argues that "alcohol, all drinkable forms of it, is not an equal-opportunity substance." (No mention of all butt-chuggable forms of it). He therefore believes that the government should require a "health warning to accompany alcohol advertising aimed at young women as well as on the products sold," and he starts off making some salient points:
On average, women have a smaller body mass than men, with proportionately less of it composed of water, which results in a more rapid rise and higher net level of alcohol in the blood for a given quantity consumed. It is well known that excess lifetime consumption of alcohol causes various forms of cancer in the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts, cirrhosis, liver cancer, heart disease, addiction and dementia.
Okay, that makes sense (kind of) — alcohol can be really dangerous, and women are littler and less watery than men so maybe more prone to disease. However, Dr. Flegel makes a quick departure from this line of argument:
Female-specific risks are already well known and include violence, unwanted sex and pregnancy...
Okay, here we fucking go. How many times are we going to have to argue that victims of sexual assault do not invite their own rapes by consuming alcoholic beverages? How many times will be have to be dumbfounded by the clearly misogynistic logic that "getting too drunk" = "an open invitation to be raped or harassed"? What would the warning label even say? "WARNING: drinking too much, as a young women, may result in someone sexually assaulting you because they feel entitled to your body. It may also cause authorities to not take your case seriously when you attempt to get help or take legal action. It may furthermore cause your peers to blame you for your own attack and then re-victimize you. Also, please be careful about your liver."?
So, if alcohol causes young women to get raped, what else does it cause? As someone who took AP Bio six years ago, I feel fully qualified to offer my expert advice to the medical community. In my professional opinion, here are some other warning labels that should go on alcohol ads and products:
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to break into your friend's apartment and eat all of his microwave taquitos and then force you to carry the burden of that secret for the rest of your life.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to cry hysterically for two hours after you get an email from your mom informing you that your high school's Latin program has been discontinued.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to attempt to insert yourself into the live performance of a screamo band covering Ke$ha songs.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to accept a ride in the trunk of a pizza delivery car.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to "discreetly" vomit in a Solo cup while someone is trying to have a nice conversation with you at a party.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to think it's okay to swim in a public fountain with a homeless man you just met.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to admit to your friends and acquaintances that you've seen 300 episodes of Naruto.
- WARNING: Over-consuming alcohol may cause you to order a denim vest on Etsy.
But none of these warnings capture the true absurdity inherent in warning women that sexual assault is a risk they automatically assume when they drink and go out in public. Rapists cause rape. Drinking alcohol does not.
Maybe this warning should go beneath the hypothetical sexual assault disclaimer:
- WARNING: If you are a taquito, do not hang out in the freezer of a person who drinks alcohol. It is not safe there.
Enough with the victim blaming.
"Alcohol ads should contain health warnings for teen girls: CMAJ" [CTV News]
Image via Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock.