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Shaming Women for Drinking Is Just More Shaming Women

3 minute read

Darlena Cunha is a contributor to TIME

I wake up at 6:30 a.m. to get the kids ready for school. I prepare breakfast for everyone, kiss my husband as he goes off to work, and start my own work. I write two articles, edit three more, promote a published piece, send out invoices. I check on my students because, on the side, I’m also an adjunct professor. Then I go pick up the kids from school, feed them, help them with homework and start preparing dinner. I am a production machine, a balancing-act professional. I am, as a recent viral article defined it, a “24-hour woman.” And I drink a glass or two of wine, sometimes.

But I don’t drink to get through the day. And suggesting that women drink to overcome the trials of “having it all” completely misses the point.

In the article, Kristi Coulter speaks from the lens of a newly sober woman, as someone who has had a complicated relationship with alcohol. She talks about how drunk the women around her are all the time, something that I’ve never seen, but imagine could exist in pockets of our society. And she bemoans the structures in place that have women reaching for the booze.

Read through to its conclusions, this piece is just another way to shame women. Coulter blames the phenomenon on the patriarchy but places the onus on women to fix it. The prescribed solution is that we just stop. That we take a stand against having to be on all the time, and we start by putting down the glass.

But not everyone wants or needs to do that. The social pressures faced by non-drinkers have nothing to do with the political and economic pressures faced by women to survive and thrive in a patriarchal society.

Stopping drinking won’t give women things we really need: affordable child care, access to mental health care without stigma, better health care in general, family planning concessions on the part of businesses. Telling women to cut out drinking or risk indulging misogyny is not the answer.

The reality is that it is entirely possible to buck the patriarchy and also have a drink when you want to. Or to live in this on-all-the-time world and not drink. Women are individuals with agency. We are not mindless victims of our situations.

So, yes, I am a 24-hour woman. And I’m working my hardest to make a future where my twins won’t have to be on all the time. I do that by running myself ragged during the day, but also by being true to myself and spending time with likeminded friends, sometimes over wine.

But it’s not the wine that’s important to me. It’s the community of women we’ve built together. It is the common ground many of us stand upon. So when we joke about needing a glass of wine, we’re really relating to each about how we are all flawed and doing the best we can, about how things can get really hard, but we’ll keep ploughing through.

And alcohol has nothing to do with that.

If we’re to be successful women who are on all the time in this world that favors men, it’s not the alcohol we need. It’s each other. Wine just often happens to be the code-word.

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