At the turn of the 2oth century, voting women solidified the stereotype of feminists as the death of joy by literally shouldering their way into men’s drinking establishments and smashing barrels of delicious and fun alcohol with axes.
As Moira Donegan points out in a modest proposal titled “Drunk Men Are a Danger to Women. Should Feminists Fight Booze Culture” via The Guardian, some suffragettes fought booze culture with all the vigor of a famous La Manchian going at a windmill, with nearly identical results:
“One of the most radical advocates of the Temperance movement was a woman named Carrie Nation, a Missouri woman who lost her first husband to alcoholism. She became famous for barging into all-male taverns with a hatchet; she would smash the liquor bottles and wooden barrels of beer.”
Donegan’s greater point is that because men are statistically more prone to doing their raping and beating after a dunk in their cups, perhaps feminists should step in once again to slap the liquor out of everyone’s hands, since, obviously, the responsibility of making sure men aren’t violent is the exclusive purview of women and always has been. It’s not enough for a society to tell women not to drink, a strategy that is widely accepted by Emily Yoffe and judges in rape cases as an effective means of ending violence against women. According to Donegan, feminists must consider stepping in where the people blaming sexual assault on drunk women leave off by giving women an additional responsibility: Making sure men don’t drink either.
But, she says, the problem with taking alcohol away from men is that some self-hating women who don’t understand their role in preventing violence against themselves and all other women will turn right and pass the liquor bottles right back to them:
“In a world in which men were banned from buying alcohol and women were not, sellers would sense a market, and sell booze to men illegally; women would turn on other women and give alcohol to men illegally, too.”
Ultimately, Donegan concedes that a new Temperance movement won’t work because women and criminals simply cannot be trusted—but, as a “thought experiment” she asks, “What if we [Feminists, I’m assuming, since the essay addresses no other group] took women’s safety as seriously as we took men’s pleasure?”
Donegan’s essay poses an interesting question. It is a fact that the entire world collectively operates under the following universal truths: Prohibition does not work, and there is absolutely no way to create a culture that encourages empathy in men, nor is it possible to hold them accountable for their actions. The only logical derivative of these truths in conjunction with one another follows that it is the duty of every feminist to do the labor of taking dangerous toys away from men. If we stand united against men having scissors, we greatly reduce the risk of men running with them.
And as it is the job of each and every feminist to act as hall monitor over every single other human being’s pleasure, lest it become dangerous, I too would like to propose a thought experiment. What if, every time we saw a man drinking, we took the drink out of his hands and drank it ourselves? Donegan herself admits that the best thing to come out of Prohibition was the rise of “mixed-sex speakeasies,” making for equal-opportunity boozing. Let’s take it one step further: mixed-sex speakeasies where we closely monitor men at all times, stepping in ensure they don’t hurt anyone by firmly, yet lovingly, taking alcohol out of their hands and pouring it into our mouths for men’s own good.
Take men’s drinks off their tables and out of their hands, yes, but don’t smash them. Liquor is not the patriarchy. Drink it yourself, for feminism. Or, if you’d rather, give the drink to another woman. I’ve heard it said that there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women. That includes hoarding the liquor you’ve confiscated for other women’s protection.