Why Do We Describe Women as ‘Tipsy’ and Dudes as ‘Wasted’?

A huge part of being a woman is swallowing indignities, major and minor. We're supposed to feel flattered about being objectified. We're supposed to say thank you to men for taking the hard decisions off our tiny, stupid hands. We're supposed to be nice even when we're angry, and we're supposed to apologize for being wrong about what we really want (surprise: it's Robin Thicke's penis!). But on top of all that shit, CAN'T WE AT LEAST GET FUCKING WASTED LIKE FULLY-ACTUALIZED HUMAN BEINGS!!?!? Well, apparently not. Binge drinking, like everything else, appears to be gendered.

A new study out of the University of Missouri found that our perceptions of male and female drinkers are very different, to everyone's detriment. Via NPR:

When the number of drinks and behavior made it clear that the person was seriously intoxicated, the students still described the female character with words like tipsy, buzzed and light-headed.

The male character, by contrast, was termed trashed, plowed, plastered, gone and obliterated (plus a few more pungent terms).

This perception of women as moderate drinkers, even when they're not, could lead women to underestimate their levels of intoxication, according to Ash Levitt, a research scientist at the University of Buffalo who led the study. "It's certainly easy to imagine a situation where they drive after leaving a bar, where they are too intoxicated to drive," he says.

Men could face their own risks from the trashed-and-wasted view of drinking, Levitt says. Other studies have shown that students consistently overestimate how many college students drink, and how much they drink.

If men think their role is to drink to get plastered, it could create more pressure to drink to excess, Levitt tells Shots.


Of course. Because losing one's grip on moderation and decorum would just be so unladylike. Can't have the ladies getting out of control! In fact, if they do, we'd better legally compel them to answer condescending middle-school essay prompts about how they've shamed the baby Jesus with their drunken gender-nonconformity. (That is a TRUE THING THAT HAPPENED, by the way. The essay was called "How a Lady Should Behave in Public, because apparently shaming adult women like they're little children is a cornerstone of the justice system.)

Now. I don't totally relate to this data. As a semiretired semiprofessional female wasted person, I never danced around my own wastedness. I mean, I'd do the whole "I'm nhot that dhrungck" routine sometimes, but I was so obviously full of shit that it was basically satire. Even if I did have a concept of drunkenness as an inherently unfeminine thing, it's one of the easiest (and funnest!) bullshit gender stereotypes to buck. Step One: Drink all the gin. Step Two: Scream about being wasted. Step Three: Tell everyone all of your secrets. Step Four: KRUSH THE PATRIARCHY.

It's not that I think it's good for women to binge drink, or that I think we'd be better off if wastedness were glamorized for all genders the way it is for men. But this story really speaks to the point that being treated with kid gloves isn't empowering—it's insulting and dangerous. When we underestimate women's drunkenness, we overestimate their ability to drive cars, or consent to sex. And, more broadly and more wearyingly, it's just another manifestation of how we underestimate girls in pretty much every category.

Look, if I'm drunk, I'm drunk. I'm not girl-drunk. And it's an insult to my liver to suggest otherwise.

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God, that is so weird, my ladyfriends and I all refer to women who are drunk as:

1. swaysted (so wasted, also, so drunk you are swaying)

2. shit hammered (where did that even come from? I don't know)

I almost never say anyone was "tipsy". If someone is "tipsy", you should just think they're sober, no? I mean, if you can tell someone has been drinking, it's probably because they're, you know, drunk.