Women and Drinking

I’m so very excited to have been interviewed by Drinking Diaries as part of their series on women and drinking. Check out the whole site, which features commentary on women and booze culture. A bit of my interview:

How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?

I’m a writer most of the time, but I also work in the booze business, as a sort of Jill-of-all-trades for Atsby Vermouth, a craft vermouth company in New York. Part of my job is to drink — to meet bartenders and consumers, to see what’s going on in the cocktail and spirits world, and to have a solid knowledge of wines, spirits and other products. I like to drink, and take great pleasure in sipping on something nice — now that it’s fall, I’m drinking a lot of our Armadillo Cake vermouth, and I love sherries and amari and of course red wine (the Smith & Vine $12-and-under table is my weeknight go-to; I upgrade for fancier events). Rye whiskey and bourbon are my favorite heavier spirits, and they go nicely with the colder weather (I can’t wait until I receive my first DramBox). But since drinking is part of my job, much of the time I’m out drinking I’m also representing the company I work for; many other times, I’m meeting with editors or fellow writers, people I consider colleagues and will likely have a professional relationship with in the future (and I live in New York — you never know who you’ll meet sitting next to you). So I’ve learned to drink well without getting hammered. Since I drink a lot of spirits when I’m out, at home I stick to wine and fortified wines, like vermouth. And when I’m out at a cocktail bar, I’ll have maybe one high-proof cocktail and then sip on lower-proof concoctions — which, because they’re often made with vermouth, sherry, amaro or other super-herbal, flavorful components and because it takes a skilled bartender to know how to work with those products well, are often some of the more complex, interesting items on the menu.

Americans have a pretty disordered relationship with alcohol, and I think women in particular are especially divided between this pull to keep up with macho, bro drinking culture — which means downing a bunch of crappy booze simply for the purpose of getting really drunk or proving how much you can consume (because beers pounded corresponds with penis size, or something?) — and social pressures to always be trying to achieve a physical ideal, which means trying to be thin. So you have these very questionable “skinny” diet booze products marketed at women, which come in colors found nowhere in nature and are full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners, or you have women who are a little more sophisticated and wouldn’t be caught dead drinking a glorified wine cooler downing vodka sodas so they can get drunk without getting fat. It’s not a healthy way to view drinking. And of course as an American woman I’m somewhat susceptible to the underlying idea, that I need to be hyper-vigilant about what I choose to eat or drink lest I gain weight. That’s such a depressing and exhausting way to live! Food and drink shouldn’t be catalysts for guilt, but so much of the way we talk about them drips with shame. We’re obsessed with the “obesity epidemic,” we “cheat” on our diets, if we eat something caloric we’ve been “bad,” chemical-laden diet foods are marketed as “ok” to indulge in. Fuck that. Feed yourself things that taste good and make your body feel good. Drink things that taste good in ways that make your body feel good. You’re on the planet once, in one body. Be nice to it. Let it feel good.

What do you like most about drinking?

I love the relaxation, and how sharing a drink can be a wonderful way to bond with someone. I’ve found that sharing social experiences makes for a deeper connection — so an evening trying out new wines or cocktails is a great way to foster a relationship. And of course the taste of a great wine, spirit or cocktail. The immensity of pleasure that human beings are capable of experiencing through taste is a remarkable gift. I try to embrace that in how I eat and drink, and remain grateful for it by eating and sipping on exceptional things made with care.

I’d be curious to hear how Feministe readers would answer those same questions. What’s your relationship with alcohol? Who or what influenced it? Does gender or other identity factors influence how (or if) you drink?

118 comments for “Women and Drinking

  1. ak
    September 25, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I work for the Smith&Vine sister store, helping with beer buying and organizing monthly subscription clubs for things like Beer of the Month, etc. With beer specifically, I find myself thinking about gender somewhat frequently, as most of the reps and brewers are male. Though no one has ever told me anything explicitly, I have always felt a bit of pressure, as a woman who loves craft beer, to prove that I know what I’m talking about and what I’m drinking, since it’s a male-dominated field.

    I have a lot of straight-edge friends, so I often think about questions like “For what purpose do I drink?” and “Why do I have a drink every day?” I suppose at the end of the day I think that having a good cocktail or a fine wine or beer is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ways to unwind. When it’s good, it’s amazing – the flavors continue to unfold and the complexity builds on your tongue.

    • September 25, 2013 at 11:08 am

      AK, that’s awesome! I suspect I know what store you’re talking about, and I’m in there with some regularity. Such a great place. Keep up the good work.

    • Jay
      September 25, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Oh, yeah, I just *love* being told I won’t like a dark beer and steered to a light lager, or – worse yet – a “lite” beer. Grrr.

      • Jenna
        September 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

        The waitstaff at one particular bar will always be remembered for trying to steer me away from a particular cocktail because it was more manly. This did not work. That particular cocktail remains one of my favorites at that particular place.

        When I could drink beer, I preferred the darker, heavier ones.

  2. September 25, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Number of beers= penis size is a hilarous posturing.

    I find the whole concept of taking pleasure in drinking a gendered one. General acceptable stereotype : Men drink to get high and women sip daintily on their flavourful cocktails/ diet drinks.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon
      September 25, 2013 at 5:14 pm

      Drinking-wise, I find the whole… ‘drink as much as possible while acting as sober as possible’ game to be hilarious. Get a little silly! Dance! No one will revoke your Man CardTM

  3. September 25, 2013 at 11:23 am

    My relationship to alcohol has been that I recognized in my parents’ alcohol abuse and the history of my extended family that alcohol was, for me, an unreasonable risk in any quantity. After a few experiments with swiping unattended champaign flutes at weddings and sampling from the liquor cabinet, I decided at 13 that I was a teetotaler. So I have remained. I don’t avoid recipes with trace alcohol, but I typically don’t, for example, order tiramisu because I’ve found it too typically contains a heavy-handed portion.

    I’m fine with other people’s social drinking. It isn’t a moral position. It’s a decision about my personal risk tolerance. My kids are old enough to understand that choice and why I made it, and they know some day they’ll have to make their own decision.

  4. September 25, 2013 at 11:26 am

    One thing I’ve noticed: my father, when he drinks, drinks gin & tonic. My stepmom drinks scotch. Wait staff frequently reverse the two on the assumption that whisky is a man’s drink and clear spirits are ladies’ drinks.

  5. Bonnie
    September 25, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I am conflicted about alcohol. I spent the last 9 years abstaining (mostly) while living with an alcoholic husband. Having recently left him I am struggling with how to incorporate alcohol into my social life in a positive way. Your blog was helpful, thank you.

    • Lauren
      September 26, 2013 at 9:01 am

      Ditto. Dealing with the effects of alcoholism sucked most of the fun out of leisure drinking.

  6. pheenobarbidoll
    September 25, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    I drank a lot when I was young, we partied pretty hard though alcohol was the weakest party favor for us. As I got older, I grew less interested in alcohol or anything else. I’ll have a nice honey lager once in a blue moon now, it’s the only thing that tastes good- aside from the occasional Bailey’s in coffee. Wine is and always has been disgusting. Harder spirits are nasty, I don’t care how they’re mixed and they give me the kind of heartburn that could set a house on fire. Now, a beer will put me to sleep. I can’t make it past the first one, and don’t really care to try. I could count the amount of alcohol I’ve had on one hand in the past 5 years. Just not my bag anymore.

  7. Marksman2010
    September 25, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    “I don’t drink these days. I am allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs.”

    –Robert Downey, Jr.

    • Joe from and alternate universe
      September 25, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      It nearly ruined his career. Now he’s A list again.

    • Bagelsan
      September 25, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      I definitely thought “fuzzy handcuffs” when I first read that, and didn’t entirely see the problem with a tied up RDJ… :D

    • Lauren
      September 26, 2013 at 9:02 am

      On my my favorite quotes about alcoholism is from him too: “Sometimes I think about having a glass of wine. Then I remember I have plans for Christmas.”

  8. Drahill
    September 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I think the culture in which you are raised has a lot to do with it. I was raised in a home that was largely dominated by Seventh Day Adventism – a faith which expressly discourages the consumption of alcohol. My mother refuses to this day to even cook with wine (she subs broth and/or acidic juice instead). The community in which I was raised was largely conservative Christian, so many people in the town were abstainers. Thus, I had no actual exposure to alcohol until college – so when I did taste it, I thought it was the nastiest thing ever; thus, I never really deevloped a taste for it. But more importantly, I never developed a sense of alcohol fitting into my own life. Most of my friends who are fans of beer, or wine, I notice, usually grew up in a home where those things were present – parents would have wine at dinner, or drink beers on a summer day. That was never present for me, so I never developed a sense of where alcohol could belong in my own life. That has led me to believe that I’m more at risk of overindulging, should I choose to drink. Which is largely why I don’t (it also helps that I still belong to a congregation that discourages drinking).

  9. Alara Rogers
    September 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    I’m a teetotaler. Mostly because alcohol tastes awful (I also don’t drink coffee; I get my vital caffeine rations from tea and Coke), and no, it doesn’t matter how low the proof is, I can taste it. People have gotten me to sip fancy flavored liqueurs like Chambord on the grounds that they didn’t think I’d be able to taste it, and I found it tasted like raspberry-flavored Nyquil. I can detect alcohol in jello shots. So I don’t drink, and because I’ve spent my entire life saying “fuck you” to any social convention I didn’t agree with, I also don’t feel any sense of shame or isolation. You didn’t provide non-alcoholic drinks to your guests? You’re a bad host, I’m not a bad guest. Seriously, you couldn’t think to stock *soda*? Or offer ice water? If I’m out at a bar for a business mixer, well, they always have ginger ale. And often I get it for free! Many places will give free non-alcoholic drinks to the designated driver, and since I’m the teetotaler and I love to drive, I get to be the DD all the time.

    My relationship with other people’s alcohol consumption is more complicated. I didn’t choose not to drink out of moral considerations, but I did feel, when I made the decision, that I was making a smart one, because I’m kind of a control freak and I want my conscious mind to be directing my behavior, with my full complement of necessary inhibitions, at all times. I don’t really quite get people who want it to be otherwise, but while I was pretty judgemental as a teenager and young woman, I’ve come to the conclusion over time that just because I don’t understand other people’s behavior doesn’t mean they aren’t perfectly legitimate in behaving that way. So I’ve learned not to be bothered by the fact that people drink, and I’ve learned to be able to buy beer without feeling ashamed that omigod, someone might think I’m going to drink it myself! Naah, fuck that shit. I didn’t choose this for moral reasons and I’m not going to let my personal sense of How I Should Live My Life bleed over into the region of my brain that handles morality.

    I am, however, still freaked out by drunk people. Not buzzed people, not happy people… totally plastered drunk off their ass people. They scare me. I’ve developed a better assessment of who’s a threatening drunk and who isn’t — one of my business partners is a functioning alcoholic, and I have had to discuss business finances with him while he was drunk, and it was more annoying than frightening because I know he’s a pretty passive, laid-back drunk. Other people I know, however, can get belligerent. Or overly affectionate, which also bothers me because I am not a huggy person.

    I did drink a shot of vodka once because I was out of blood pressure medication and it was through the roof and I was having heart palpitations and I desperately did not want to have to go to the ER and everything I read suggested that, while frequent use of alcohol is bad for your BP, a given single dose has enough of a sedating effect that I thought it might help. I came to the conclusion that a. yes, alcohol still tastes like utter shit b. yes, I still can’t figure out why anyone would voluntarily enter such a state outside of medical reasons c. it’s similar enough to how I feel on antihistamines or painkillers that I can probably safely extrapolate when I’m writing characters who drink.

    • pheenobarbidoll
      September 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      The only way I can drink coffee is if it’s decaf and mostly sugar and creamer..I will have some with Bailey’s if it’s seriously cold and snowy out, so that’s rare in Texas but I had one or two cups a month in Canada. I can taste alcohol in any drink too, and just meh. If Pepsi got one drunk, I’d be screwed.

    • September 25, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      I’m a teetotaler too, but only because I’d rather not drink than drink and wake up the next day with a migraine.

    • September 25, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      ::high five::

      Seconding all you wrote, Alara.

    • Inksmith
      September 27, 2013 at 5:27 am

      You didn’t provide non-alcoholic drinks to your guests? You’re a bad host, I’m not a bad guest. Seriously, you couldn’t think to stock *soda*? Or offer ice water?

      My sister and I engaged in… let’s call it a debate… over this when she got married. She and her husband were happy to pay for wine at dinner for all guests, but when I pointed out that not everyone drinks, she suggested in that case we could pay for our own drinks or drink water. Not even willing to shell out for orange juice, despite having four children at the wedding who obviously couldn’t drink!And everyone treated her as the reasonable one, and me as unreasonable. Not that I couldn’t have paid for my drink, but so could everyone who drank the wine. Grr!

    • Echo Zen
      September 27, 2013 at 6:07 am

      What? That doesn’t even make logical sense. Juice would have been CHEAPER for her to order than wine!

      • Emily
        September 29, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        She couldn’t serve everyone juice – that would have been weird!

        My sister is very invested in being normal, which was likely a big part of deciding this. Also, often thoughtless.

  10. TomSims
    September 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I quit drinking almost 25 years ago. I quit smoking 39 years ago.

    • PrettyAmiable
      September 25, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      Women and Drinking, bro.

    • Echo Zen
      September 25, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      I literally laughed out loud when I read that comment.

  11. Computer Soldier Porygon
    September 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I drink a lot, I think. If I go to my boyfriend’s house, we usually have a couple of cocktails while sitting on the couch watching our stories. He’s really into mixing drinks and putting them in nice glasses with, like, candied orange and shit so that’s cool – also I’m really into NOT getting off the couch to make the drinks so that works out well. Or we’ll have just glasses of scotch or whatever.

    I don’t keep alcohol in my house but will occasionally pick up a bottle of wine or a couple beers to drink at home. I go out and drink heavily probably once a week, usually Saturday night. I’ve definitely gone through phases where my drinking has been Problem Drinking (and similar phases with other drugs – I am mostly drug-free now but I think if I were in a position where I WAS around, like, coke I would just faceplant in it… it’s been a few years but I think that’s one I just need to stay away from forever) and have had awful blackout nights that caused me to pause/reflect and step back for awhile. I dunnooooo. I like to have wine with dinner or just like a glass of scotch at home at night, but I am definitely not someone who Knows About Booze in that way. I can tell the difference between Good and Bad, but all the finer points are kind of lost on me.

    I’ve never struggled with the alcohol/weight/guilt thing but I did know people in college who would skip meals so they could drink later. I have never been able to do that. I’m not sure to what extent gender has influenced my drinking. I’m sure it has to some extent (as it has p much everything), but I dunno. I started drinking when I was thirteen or fourteen, but didn’t drink regularly until near the end of high school/beginning of college. The thing is, of my little circle of close friends, only one or two of us drank/smoked/whatever, so I don’t know why I sought that out. It definitely wasn’t peer pressure. I think I just wanted to have experiences, and have them first. I was always bored and I always wanted to do things in this experimental way… like, I did want to be cool and more worldly-seeming (wanting to be more ‘wordly’ i.e. not from Podunkville, TX, was a big thing for me and I’m kind of ashamed of that now), but I would also do things just to see how I would feel about it later. I would have kind of a hypothesis about how I would be in a certain situation, then put myself in that situation to see how accurate I was. I still do things like that sometimes.

    I dunno, I’m still figuring it out.

    My mother barely drinks and my father drinks a lot – but just has a fridge full of Coors Light, haha. I don’t think they made much of an impact. I can remember feeling uncomfortable around my father sometimes when he was drunk – like how he would suddenly be really affectionate and want to hug me and tell me he loved me but he was just this huge drunk dude and it was scary. But he usually didn’t get drunk like that – or he would go out with his buddies and it just wasn’t around me that much.

    • mamram
      September 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      I so relate to your ambivalence. I feel like recreational drug use (I’m including drinking in that) is regarded as a completely black and white thing, like someone’s either a totally restrained person who never overindulges or they’re a substance abuser who shouldn’t ever have even a single sip/hit. Maybe it’s even true. But it makes it hard to know how to feel about my own use. Like, I really enjoy these things! And they don’t seem to negatively affect my life…but if in the past I’ve failed to set appropriate limits for myself, what does that mean? You really said it:

      I dunnooooo.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon
        September 26, 2013 at 5:13 pm

        Right. Like, if I’ve Gone Too Far before, what does that mean going forward? I know I’m not an alcoholic, but I know I sometimes overdo it, and I know sometimes when I talk about really bad drinking nights it sounds… well, really really bad. It’s hard to talk about.

  12. Bagelsan
    September 25, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I don’t really drink because alcohol’s a CNS (central nervous system) depressant, and it interacts poorly with many medications, some of which I take for chronic depression. So it’s really a shitty double-whammy. I have the occasional glass of wine or single beer, but getting drunk just isn’t cool or fun now that I’m not in college anymore. :p

    • Bagelsan
      September 25, 2013 at 11:18 pm

      Hmm, that last bit about college sounded kind of judgey…my bad! I’ll rephrase it. :p

      I would say that, regarding drunkenness, I’ve been less inclined to it as I’ve matured and reconciled with myself as a person; as I’ve gotten more comfortable in my own skin and better at socializing I haven’t “needed” any liquid courage to go ahead and get giddy or chatty when I’m out with friends. This doesn’t mean I never have gotten drunk — I certainly have! — but it’s not really required for me to have a good time, especially now that I’m out of college and it’s not particularly demanded that I drink socially.

  13. Bagelsan
    September 25, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    On a more general note: obviously drinking much more than “sometimes” or more than 1 drink an hour is kinda unhealthy, and it seems like a pretty easy drug to abuse. However, I think the panic about it often boils down to OMG women are having fun like men do! and that’s obviously ridiculous. Warnings about how to avoid drinking because it somehow causes rape disgust me; warnings about drinking heavily because it causes liver sadness are totally medically valid. So I’m fairly neutral about “women and drinking” as a thing. I would advise my friends and family to indulge if they want to, because a little indulgence is a lovely thing, but to do so safely and sparingly.

    • llamathatducks
      September 25, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      Heh, this isn’t exactly the same thing, but… I grew up in a family where some wine is often had with dinner, and when I was in high school my mom would often ask me to try the wine (so I learn what my tolerance is), but I thought it was gross so I didn’t. Then, while I was in college, I gradually came to like certain drinks, so I’d drink when I came home.

      Now, if someone offered me a drink and I accepted, my parents didn’t bat an eye. But if I asked for a drink myself, my mom would get a bit tense… this still sort of happens, too. Like, I’m allowed to have drinks, just not to *want* them.

      In the past couple of years, my dad’s gotten really into good whiskey, and I’ve found that I like it too. Some evenings I’ll have like a really small amount of it, and mostly sniff it (and sip it slowly) over the course of an hour. This also makes my mom kind of freak out – “young women shouldn’t be drinking hard liquor!!” Whereas if I compare my alcohol consumption to that of many other young people I know, any kind of freaking out is pretty ridiculous.

      • llamathatducks
        September 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        Oh, ALSO, about “women and drinking” as its own thing – in my family’s culture (Russian), the men at the table are supposed to pour the women’s drinks. This doesn’t mean that women can’t drink at all when no men are present, and it also doesn’t mean that women don’t get a say in their drinks: typically either (a) a man offers some wine, the woman accepts or declines, and if she accepts, she says when to stop, or (b) a woman asks a man to pour her some wine, then tells him when to stop. But it does mean that when I first started drinking wine with my parents and totally ignored this “rule,” I got a lot of pushback from my mom.

        Her rationale was:
        (1) “Good” men will do stuff for women; you should be training them to be chivalrous instead of doing stuff yourself!
        (2) Women get drunk faster than men, so it makes sense that the men would be in control of the alcohol.

        Which, well, no. I control my alcohol intake better if I’m pouring my own drinks and know exactly when to stop. And my definition of a “good man” is totally different.

        Luckily my family got used to it eventually. But meh.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon
        September 25, 2013 at 8:11 pm

        My parents are the same way. If someone offers me wine and I accept, it’s fine. If I ask for a drink, I get the side-eye.

      • September 25, 2013 at 9:27 pm

        If I want a drink at my parents house, I have to ask for it.. Mainly because my mom doesn’t drink so she only offers me Pepsi, and I think subconsciously, my dad doesn’t think girls drink beer. He offers my boyfriend and my brother in law a beer, but not me, even though I like beer as well. So when I come out and ask if I can have one too it’s always a suprised “oh, oh, yeah, go ahead” reaction.

  14. September 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    I don’t drink alcohol. Haven’t done in twenty years, and then it was one or two glasses of sweet wine, once or twice a year. I don’t like the taste of the stuff and I emphatically do not like the feeling that it’s changing my mood or behaviour. The two men in my family were alcoholics, one maudlin, the other once violent. I loathe the whole drink-to-get-drunk culture, which is very strong in Australia, too. A glass of something nice with a meal is one thing, but recreational drunkenness … frankly I despise it.

  15. llamathatducks
    September 25, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I talked a bit about the gendered aspects of my drinking experience above; here’s a bit about my general relationship with alcohol.

    I drink occasionally, usually some wine with dinner or some scotch with tea or some sweet wine at some point; rarely, a sweet cocktail (I love cocktails but I don’t usually have the money to spend on them, nor do I feel like putting in the effort to make them). I only ever drink things whose taste I like, and normally, I like the taste of alcohol if and only if it’s sweet. So my drink preferences line up pretty neatly with gender stereotypes – except that I quite enjoy scotch (the kind that isn’t TOO smoky and goes well with tea and dark chocolate).

    I usually dislike getting drunk/tipsy because it rarely makes me have more fun, it just makes it harder to think and talk and do things. Which makes social interaction harder, for me, especially if I’m with people I don’t know – talking to people I’m not super-close to takes a lot of effort and brainpower for me, and alcohol makes everything harder.

    That said, if I’m with people I know well and I’m totally done with anything effortful for the evening, then I’ll enjoy getting tipsy (I’m not sure I EVER get drunk, just varying degrees of tipsiness; sometimes I get a bit nauseous without ever having been really drunk??). It’s then a nice way to relax – like, hey, I don’t need to use my brain right now anyway, why not let it slide apart a bit?

    But I’ve also enjoyed cooking and cleaning while tipsy in the past. It kind of makes it feel like a party, where the fun in the process is at least as important as the result. I’m not sure how this fits in with everything else.

    • llamathatducks
      September 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Oh, also, I don’t usually like parties with dancing, which I guess is where a great deal of social drinking happens, so that cuts out a major kind of drinking for me. If I’m drinking with friends, I prefer to do it while watching a movie or playing Cards Against Humanity or telling funny stories or something. (And preferably not in a bar – I have trouble hearing what people say when there’s background music/noise.)

  16. Safiya Outlines
    September 25, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I don’t drink for religious reasons. However considering the amount of problem drinking in my family, I am not sorry to give alcohol a swerve.

    I think it is brilliant being teetotal, the UK has an appalling drinking culture, I do wish more people would see not drinking/drinking small amounts as a viable option, I think they would be surprised at the benefits.

  17. Jay
    September 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    I drink on average five drinks a week – some weeks a bit more, some weeks a lot less or none at all. Mostly I drink wine with dinner, but sometimes I’ll have a mixed drink and sometimes I’ll have port in the evenings. We collect and enjoy wine and we brew beer.

    My family drank regularly and generally not to excess; I was allowed to drink at home starting when I was about 15, which meant that I had no interest in the bottle of vodka in the parking lot at school dances or the very bad beer in kegs at college (local drinking age was 18 when I was in college). I have never been drunk.

    I spent the first 10 years of my medical career working in academic medicine with an interest in addiction and alcoholism. I learned that women are just as likely to be truly addicted (genetic disease, not sex-linked) but at that time were less likely to be abusive drinkers (not genetic, much more common, not associated with loss of control over the behavior, still likely to be deadly). Abusive drinking has been normalized in many parts of the US and that’s a HUGE problem. Drinking isn’t a problem in and of itself; drunkenness is a problem. Women drink for many of the same reasons men drink, most of which Jill outlines in this post. Women get drunk more easily than men, in general, and “holding one’s liquor” (which is really developing a physical tolerance for alcohol) is considered a manly trait, not a feminine one.

  18. September 25, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Just want to pop in to say that this has been a really interesting comment thread, and I appreciate you all sharing your experiences and perspectives in such a constructive way. I find it interesting that most of the folks commenting are non-drinkers or very occasional drinkers. I wonder why those of us who drink more regularly (or perhaps heavily or to excess) are less pulled to comment here?

    In any event, at least where I live, drinking is the norm. So it’s nice to see a lot of folks be like, “I don’t drink and here’s why.” This is a lovely thread to read.

    • Jamie
      September 26, 2013 at 7:34 am

      There seems to be a large overlap with the Feministe commentariat and sci-fi/fantasy/geek/etc. fandom, and I think teetotalling and other “abnormal” social behaviors are more concentrated there. Speaking as Yet Another Feminist Geek Who Rarely Drinks (don’t like the taste usually). Which isn’t to say there are No Geek Drinkers, don’t get me wrong.

      • Jenna
        September 26, 2013 at 9:57 am

        My circle is pretty nerdy, and there are lots who don’t drink. The ones who do drink don’t drink to get drunk. Drunk is never the goal. Trying a few tasty cocktails or seeing if the bartender of the new place actually knows how to make a real Old Fashioned or a decent Whiskey Sour is sometimes the goal. A few of my friends hit the nerdy end of drinking with the obscure alcohols and the home brew recipes. Barrel aging cocktails and making your own bitters qualifies as nerdy to me, but nerdy is a compliment in my mind. I hang out with people who make things or get into all the gritty details of whatever catches their interest.

    • Drahill
      September 26, 2013 at 11:27 am

      I tend to attribute it to several things. Now, I can speak solely for myself, but I would venture that perhaps there is a class and/or racial aspect to it. From my own experience, being half Native American, that certainly was formative for me. When I grew up, my Sioux mother regarded alcohol as the absolute Devil on Earth (still does). She probably joined a prohobitionist religion largely because it conformed to what she already knew to be true. Tons of ink has been spilled about the serious issues alcohol has been implicated in for Native Americans. Thus, I have noticed that far more of my NA friends are prohibitionist or abstaining than my white friends. I do know there has been a great deal of research that indicates that POC are far more likely to abstain from alcohol than their white counterparts. I do know that this site has a decent-sized base of POC commentators, so perhaps that is a part of it?

      Truly, part of why drinking never appealed to me, I do think, was because it was, from the first times I saw it, a very “white” pursuit.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

        Yes, my dad’s side of the family doesn’t even allow it in their homes. Too wary of alcoholism and the drunk Indian stereotype. I’ve seen my dad drink maybe 3 beers in my lifetime. Beer in his fridge means drunk chicken bbq.

      • Computer Soldier Porygon
        September 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm

        Oh god, drunk chicken bbq. I want it in and around my mouth RIGHT NOW.

      • pheenobarbidoll
        September 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

        Having it tomorrow, because of my post about it lol

    • Coraline
      September 26, 2013 at 6:20 pm

      I find it interesting that most of the folks commenting are non-drinkers or very occasional drinkers. I wonder why those of us who drink more regularly (or perhaps heavily or to excess) are less pulled to comment here?

      Tolstoy is probably appropriate here –
      “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”

      If you like drinking, it is often not a very compelling story. “I drink because I enjoy it”. It might get more compelling if you are involved in brewing, distilling, or in the business in some way… but even there the stories tend to be pretty similar.

      If you don’t drink, everyone has their own highly personal (and often highly emotionally charged) story about why they do not drink.

      If something is not really very “charged” for you, you are probably less likely to comment on it? Dunno.

      But then again, I am a regular drinker who is commenting, so who the heck knows…

      • September 26, 2013 at 6:46 pm

        If you like drinking, it is often not a very compelling story. “I drink because I enjoy it”.

        Pretty much my deal. I could go on about my glass of cheap wine on weekends, and the post-finals Happy Drunk, but it’s boring and no1curr, I imagine.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon
      September 26, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      I’m one of the big drinker/bar-enthusiast responders…

      In my circle of friends, I’m almost definitely the nerdiest w/r/t spending time reading blogs, comment sections, forums. I have friends from the internet and obviously it’s different with them, but almost everyone I’ve met IRL thinks it’s this… huge and kind of funny idiosyncrasy.

    • (BFing)Sarah
      September 30, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      I was what I would call a ‘big drinker’ in college and grad school…and for a year or so following grad school. I was a typical girl drinker, however, and I never tried to keep up with ‘bro culture’ and, after a few missteps (which were terrible, awful puking messes), learned to accept and embrace my tolerance level. Not that I didn’t go over my tolerance level at least once a week…I just knew that it was happening and didn’t claim to be able to “handle it.” I drank to get drunk and I loved to party. That doesn’t mean I would ever challenge anyone to a drinking contest, or that I enjoyed the taste of alcohol. I hated it then and I hate it now, with very few exceptions.

      Once I got to grad school I pretty much stopped taking shots and drinking any hard liquor by itself. I also started developing drinking preferences, whereas in college I drank whatever was there because I wasn’t really drinking for the taste. I mostly drank typical “female” drinks like rum and coke, woodchuck, sangria, and boring beer. I found that it was easier, as a woman, to outright refuse shots. The guys I knew had a much harder time stopping themselves, even when they did not really want to keep drinking. Peer manly man pressure seemed to really affect them when it came to drinking.

      During grad school, most of our social engagements involved alcohol, even the ones associated with the school. If you were not a drinker, it was actually probably very difficult to manage…I wouldn’t know for sure, as all of my friends were definitely drinkers. Once I graduated, the same situation continued. My firm actually had an in building happy hour at five on Friday where all cocktails and a few different types of beer were available for free (with little snackie things, too, of course). Personally, I think it was a way to keep you in the building for longer…either that or to get you wasted so early that you passed out at nine pm and then found yourself wide awake at 7 am on Saturday morning, ready to come to work. Probably the latter. At any rate, I continued to drink pretty regularly for about a year.

      It all pretty much ground to a half when I got pregnant, honestly. Now that I have kids there is really no point to drinking. I know that I am going to have to get up in the morning before my hangover has been slept away and the idea of hanging out with noisy children with a hangover is a real buzz kill. I always drank to get drunk and not for the taste. If I’m not at a party, I do not really have the desire to sip on anything alcoholic. I’d rather just have a regular Coke. I do miss drinking, especially with my husband, he was such a fun drinker! Now he will have a few beers here and there (he likes the seasonal ales and that sort of thing), and I will RARELY have a cocktail of some kind of a half of a beer…but other than that? Not much. We both hate wine and I don’t really enjoy being hung over, so champagne is mostly out. I think our drinking days are being put on hold for the indefinite future.

  19. September 25, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I’m a casual drinker.. Frequent, but small amounts. I rarely get drunk anymore, mostly because I’m usually driving because boyfriend is not licenced, and I really like my bed. So I don’t like to do a lot of crashing on couches. Cabs around here are expensive, too. So the majority of the time I am limited to one drink.

    Liquor sales are government run here, so there’re pretty much three places you get alcohol… I wrote a while ago about the differences between the LCBO, THe Beer Store and the Wine Rack and how they apply to gendered perceptions of alcohol consumption.

    I grew up in a drinking family.. My dad drank and still does drink a lot of beer, which has been a cause for concern, mainly for his liver and my parents budget. But since he’s never been a maudlin, violent, belligerent orbnoxious drunk, it’s gone mostly un talked about. My mom was more a casual drinker, who would only touch rye. She quit after being put on meds for depression and has expressed amazement at how easier it was for her to give it up.

    I used to drink more infrequently, but in greater amounts. I’d only drink when I was going out, usually with the intention of getting slightly fucked up. I was blessed (?) with a weak stomach, so I’d get sick before getting to the point of being completely incoherent or blackout drunk.

    Getting older, the thought of drinking for the sake of getting drunk has lost a lot of appeal, thankfully. Now I may have a drink in the evening. We’ve been drinking cider mostly since it’s a nice sweet drink but with a lot less sugar and crap than with wine and vodka coolers. Tend to jump around between rye, beer, wine and cider, depending on the seasons.

    • KittySnide
      September 26, 2013 at 10:24 am

      I wrote a while ago about the differences between the LCBO, THe Beer Store and the Wine Rack and how they apply to gendered perceptions of alcohol consumption.

      I’d love to read this, Andie, if you’ve got a link! *Ontario secret handshake*

      • September 26, 2013 at 6:32 pm

        Found it..


        Warning, this is a pretty old post, quite tongue-in-cheek and I was getting over a breakup so was a little morose at the time.

      • KittySnide
        September 26, 2013 at 11:21 pm


        I liked it! I’m relatively new to the Ontario alcohol-buying system (what do you mean, you can’t buy wine at 1am? #Alberta) and I kind of connect with your post!
        A new Wine Rack just opened in my city, and it’s the first one not connected with a grocery store, and it’s been aggressively marketed through radio, and it’s been very gendered: very “need wine because your friend just went through a breakup? need wine for the party at your apartment tonight?”
        The whole “need wine” thing is very interesting also. I feel like wine has become the feminine bacon.

  20. Bagelsan
    September 25, 2013 at 11:30 pm

    Oh, also, as a nursing student I find the “is your drinking problem drinking?” test kind of interesting and worth mentioning here; it’s called the “CAGE” test:

    C = do you think about Cutting down on your drinking?
    A = do you get Annoyed when people criticize your drinking?
    G = do you feel Guilty about how much you drink?
    E = do you drink in the morning as an Eye-opener/to wake up?

    It’s obviously very simple and not terribly sophisticated, but I think it’s nice to have in the back of your mind as a self-assessment. Clearly it’s very cultural and depends on the people you hang out with, too, among other critiques, but is perhaps helpful as a basic kind of analysis.

    Naturally I’m not trying to internet diagnose people, but I thought that women-drinking vs. women-problem-drinking were two very different types of discussion, so distinguishing between them might be worth a glance!

  21. BBBShrewHarpy
    September 26, 2013 at 12:00 am

    I really like to drink.

    I enjoy wine with my dinner at home, beers after work, peaty scotch after a restaurant meal. The way I approach alcohol in my every day life is that it is part of it and marks occasions, even small occasions such as a presentation given, a student graduated, a difficult meeting navigated. Drinking is sociable for me, so these are all occasions I mark with other people and would not do so alone.

    I do not drink to get drunk but I really like to drink. This means I police my own drinking but in a very private manner, and I should imagine nobody around me is aware of my holding back. I drink slowly and I never feel nauseated so over the course of an evening I do have to watch my behavior, check for slurred words, which as usually the only sign I discern as I am physically clumsy even when sober. So I suppose I am the opposite of someone who drinks to get drunk. Getting drunk is a side-effect of an enjoyable activity and I do my best to avoid it. I used to get drunk regularly until I realized that it was the drinking I enjoyed and that I always regretted the drunkenness.

    Unfortunately, like Pheeno above, as I get older, I tend to fall asleep when I drink at home. I still get enough of a social buzz not to suffer from this in social group settings, but my steady drinking days may be numbered.

  22. Brennan
    September 26, 2013 at 12:11 am

    I’m an occasional drinker now. I barely drank in college because alcohol consumption was so tied in with the hook-up scene and I just . . . wasn’t interested. It wasn’t about not drinking so as not to get raped (though I heard that message ad nauseum) so much as not wanting to be around all the very drunk dudes who would end up hitting on me. It was the annoyance factor.

    *related overshare ahead, might be potentially triggering, though nothing bad happened*

    The closest I came was pretty late in my college career when I was doing research during one of those mid-winter “mini-semester” deals. I was stuck in my empty on-campus apartment, bored out of my mind after seeing no one but my PI and three fellow researchers for days on end when two guys knocked on my door. I didn’t even know them, but they’d astutely noticed that I was pretty much the only woman in the building and they offered to share some vodka in their apartment. At that point, I was pretty much “what the hell, I’m bored and the drinks are free.” Sounds like the set-up to every cautionary tale ever told to seventeen-year-olds, but it worked out okay. We chatted and did shots of some ten dollar vodka for a while–just long enough to realize we had *nothing* in common. Then, with beautifully choreographed execution that was rather amusing to behold, the Wingman made himself scarce and a Particular Dude offered me a “tour of the apartment.” Neither the tour nor the rest of the night went as far as he wanted it to. I did make out with this Dude (without actually remembering his name, which I feel kind of bad about) but begged off on any further entertainment because I was drunk (and also not that into him, but I left that part out). There was a weird pseudo-transactional vibe to the whole thing, which made me a little uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, nobody got more drunk or did more stuff than they wanted to, and when I let him down easy, the Dude was cool with that (even in his heavily inebriated state! even after he’d bought me drinks! even after we’d made out! Apologists everywhere: take note.)


    Since graduating, I’ve sort of discovered the social drink, though I don’t drink heavily. My family is an interesting mix, with some dedicated social drinkers on one side (my mother’s family used to own a vineyard and my grandparents were quite fond of a happy hour that lasted more than an hour) and some serious alcoholism on the other (though my dad has dodged that, so far). Alcohol is incorporated pretty consistently into family gatherings, so it’s more of a family thing for me than a peer socialization thing. So, I’ll have a few beers with the football game, some wine with dinner, maybe a mixed drink at the restaurant bar if there’s a long wait. My brother makes a mean Tom Collins, but aside from that, I don’t really seek alcohol out. I read posts like Jill’s and feel like there’s this whole other world out there where alcohol is a thing for connoisseurs. It sounds interesting and maybe someday I’ll have the time/find myself in a culture where I can appreciate that. But, if my tastes never grow more sophisticated than a Yeungling or a rum and coke, that’s okay too.

    I still hate those cheap vodka shots, though.

  23. Tony
    September 26, 2013 at 12:49 am

    Alchohol was gendered in my household growing up in the sense that my dad drank very little and my mom not at all. I think my mom had a genuine aversion to alcohol almost as if she was allergic to it. Generally I’m much more open to it. But I have to laugh at any gendered expectation that men are supposed to drink more than women, since I get “the flush”, a.k.a. ALDH2 deficiency, an enzyme that processes alcohol, that affects mostly East Asians and raises the risk of getting esophageal cancer by x6 to x10. Its a bigger risk among men than women, which is another reversal of gendered stereotypes. As it happens currently most of my friends are non drinkers for reasons of either personal taste or religious/cultural reasons, so it works out. Usually I’ll have one beer or wine per week at most without feeling like I’m missing out.

  24. BabyRaptor
    September 26, 2013 at 2:01 am

    I very rarely drink…Just a couple times a year. I’m very worried about drinking around people I don’t trust, so usually my “drinking partners” are my boyfriend or my roommate.

    My preferred alcohol type is vodka, but I’m also huge on Peppermint Schnapps and chocolate milk.

  25. Willemina
    September 26, 2013 at 4:10 am

    My sister and I like stuff made with apples (mostly).

    • September 26, 2013 at 4:27 am

      Willemina wins the thread!

    • bookshopcat
      September 26, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Er… mostly apples?

      (I’m really hoping that this is a Discworld reference, because the mental image of Feministe commentators drinking Gytha Ogg’s scumble is so magnificent that I just don’t have the words…)

      • September 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm

        If it’s not a Discworld reference, my head just exploded from the unpossibleness of it all.

      • Willemina
        September 27, 2013 at 3:06 am

        It’s a Discworld reference (I don’t want the kitties to go unattended while heads are reassembled). Both of us are fans of cider, and I like to keep a bottle of applejack around so it’s factual as well!

      • September 28, 2013 at 3:49 am

        LOL! Perfect!

  26. 30ish
    September 26, 2013 at 4:39 am

    For me, it depends a lot on whether I’m in company or not. If I’m by myself, I rarely drink (occasionally a glass of wine or a beer with dinner). When I’m with friends or at my boyfriend’s, I often drink because others do so, too. Once I see the glass of wine in front of me, I want to have one, too. I think I have an implicit rule in my head, which is no more than 2 (small) glasses of wine on a weekday and no more than 4 drinks in one evening, ever. I don’t get super drunk because of the 4 drinks limit. It feels like a natural limit to me, I don’t really have to police myself to stick to it. I also have another, more or less implicit rule, which is that I don’t drink the next day if I got drunk the day before. I easily get hangovers, so usually I just don’t feel up for it, but it’s also a “get the toxins out of your system before adding new ones” kind of thing. I don’t feel the “thin pressure” with regard to drinking, might be because I live in Europe. Obviously we realize that alcoholic drinks have calories, but it’s not really something that people talk about.
    I’ve noticed that I am slightly judgey about other people’s drinking habits. My boyfriend and his whole family drink a lot more than is common in my family and at first I was like “whoa, they drink wine every day? and like several glasses?” It’s a bit of a delicate subject to me, because on the one hand I understand my views on alcohol aren’t universally valid (duh), but on the other hand, some of their relatives have died of alcohol-related diseases. So I’m just not able to view it as harmless. I think this is related to the gray area that is “problem drinking”. People can have a semi-problem with alcohol, in that they may not be actual alcoholics, but still suffer some health problems in the long term if they keep up a certain style of drinking. And, where’s the line between drinking to unwind and relax, and abusing alcohol? I’m really not sure. Not really trying to start a discussion – it’s just something that has been on my mind.

  27. September 26, 2013 at 5:56 am

    Having witnessed some pretty severe alcoholism in grandparents and ex partners, I’ve developed an adhoc system of managing my own drinking. I’m different to a number of people here in that I try to avoid regular low key drinking, but have no problem with getting quite drunk on a less regular basis.

    I have four rules:
    1) Don’t drink alone
    2) Don’t drink at home
    3) Don’t drink to cheer myself up
    4) Don’t drink to cope

    1) and 2) I occasionally break, but only when I’m hosting a party or after the party when there are a few beers left in the fridge. (Although if there are a lot, I’ll tend to take them over to friends’ places)

    My drinking is somewhat gendered in that most of the problem drinkers I know who are older than me are men, but those who are my age are women (although I suspect a few of my male friends may have had problems with alcohol and just be averse to talking about it, whereas women tend to be more open about their past alcohol problems).

  28. September 26, 2013 at 7:02 am

    I NEVER drink. I’m a foreign journalist in Moscow, I work as a playwright on the side, I married a Russian director, I think too much, I spend roughly seven months of the year ducking into bars to escape from the raw wind and blistering cold, I hang out with a lot of theater and movie types who are widely known for self-restraint when it comes to alcoholic beverages, and it’s not as if I could use a glass of Shiraz after putting a rambunctious two-year-old to bed, so drinking? Not for me.

    But seriously, though, I don’t really drink vodka in Russia, because I’m a vodka snob (yes, we exist) and the good stuff here costs too much. The best vodka for me is to be found in Ukraine, in the more “exotic” places such as Zhitomir and Lviv. I even find it hard to get good vodka in Kiev nowadays, which is saying a lot.

    So I drink red wine and rosé. My main drinking rule is “don’t get shit-faced.” I think wine is there to be enjoyed, and you can’t enjoy it when you’re shit-faced. I prefer wine with food – whether I’m out, or cooking for friends at home – and I prefer it with conversation. I can’t imagine drinking in silence. I also like the Russian tradition of toasting – I missed it dearly in the States.

    My favorite alcoholic beverage is Cretan raki (usually known abroad as tsikoudia). It has to come from Crete – tsipouro from mainland Greece is great, but not nearly as great. I think the Cretans distill sunlight and happiness in it – it never makes me drunk, never gives me a hangover, and never inspires me to brood in a corner. It would be wonderful if I could retire to Crete eventually, when I’m old and just about tired enough, I would drink raki with watermelon and stare at the moon and the tides and possibly not even miss my youth. ;)

    • Donna L
      September 26, 2013 at 5:42 pm

      the more “exotic” places such as Zhitomir and Lviv.

      Off-topic, but what makes places like that seem “exotic”? It’s hard for me to think of Zhitomir that way, given that it seems as if the families of more than half the people I know (including my former spouse and, therefore, my son) came from Zhitomir, or from towns within a 20-mile radius of it.

      • Donna L
        September 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

        Oops — only the quoted part was supposed to be in italics! [Fixed ~ the mod elves]

      • Echo Zen
        September 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm

        “the mod elves”

        That is for better or worse the greatest thing I’ve read all day.

      • September 26, 2013 at 6:30 pm

        Working for the Giraffe is how the mod elves pay for their chrome polish so that they can strut in front of the rocker elves.

      • September 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm

        Mod and Rocker elves


      • September 28, 2013 at 6:43 am

        “Exotic” – as in more off the beaten track and not widely known for their cosmopolitan drinking scene or large influx of visitors. Though downtown Lviv has always felt very touristy to me.

    • Bagelsan
      September 28, 2013 at 5:06 pm

      I’m a bit confused… do you “NEVER drink” except for wine? Because in my book that counts as drinking — anything with alcohol counts — but it sounds like you might only count hard liquor as “drinking.”

      • September 28, 2013 at 5:25 pm
      • Bagelsan
        September 28, 2013 at 5:33 pm

        Meh, I thought it was a valid question! :p Some people don’t count stuff like wine and beer as “drinking”, like how some people don’t list their dietary supplements when writing down all the meds they take.

      • September 28, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        LOL. Holy shit, is that a thing? I don’t doubt you, people can do some asinine shit, but wooooow. If wine and beer don’t count as drinking, I guess I’m practically a non-drinker!

  29. wanttobeanon
    September 26, 2013 at 7:33 am

    My family drinks socially and casually. When we go out to restaurants for long meals all of us drink cocktails (cosmos, whiskey sours, martinis, etc) followed by wine with dinner. My mom usually sticks to one cocktail with dinner because she’s the designated driver. When we assemble at my parents’ house we drink eye-wateringly strong cocktails, usually my dad’s modified version of a Manhattan, and red wine, almost always a cabernet. And my mom is the lone white wine drinker because red gives her headaches. Both at home and out, we drink to the point of pleasant tipsiness, for relaxation and for the lolz. Falling-down-drunkenness would be frowned upon. It goes unspoken that we don’t do that.

    My dad, who used to drink quite heavily when I was a kid and has since cut back a lot, concern trolled me about drinking a glass of wine during my second pregnancy. When he was asking who wanted wine with dinner and didn’t ask me, I said I was drinking too. He was like, and he was kinda-half-kidding-but-not-really, “Do you have a doctor’s permission?” I answered, “No, but I have a midwife and the capacity to make my own decisions.” He got the point and I found out later he was greatly concerned that he’d offended me. Which he did, but whatever. He was apologetic.

    My husband is not a drinker due to his medication, but is fine with my drinking. At home I make fruity tasting concoctions in beautiful, unnatural colors, Kahlua and sodas, chocolate martinis, and drink both red and white wine depending on what we’re eating. I love a good sauternes. I usually have, I’m going to say between 1-4 drinks a week on average. Right now I am sorta timing them due to breastfeeding.

    But wait, there’s more. In the past six months I have had maybe a dozen drinks to cope with stress and anxiety, as because of the breastfeeding I can’t take the medication I would normally take to manage my anxiety disorder. I have a significant amount of discomfort with the idea that I am now a social drinker for fun AND a medicinal drinker, like morally it should be one or the other, even though I am confident I do not have any ongoing dependency. I look forward to drinking being all about enjoyment again as nursing wraps up and I get back on my meds.

    That said, I am hyper conscious about the possibility of dependency and every now and then don’t drink for a while. Not really intentionally or to test myself, more that I get busy with life and just kinda forget to, or don’t have time, and then I’m out of the habit for a few weeks.

    I do also consider caloric intake with drinks, as I’m working to lower my weight. I know I would lose faster if I cut out drinking entirely, but life is short and relaxing with alcohol is a great pleasure and part of my family life. I am not going to switch to “skinnygirl” mixed drinks either, as they probably taste terrible. To me that is not what drinking is about.

  30. ann levey
    September 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I adore getting tipsy and every once in awhile getting down and out drunk with like minded people is a blast. Went to a wedding recently where someone organised a side tequila trunk party. I loved it ,right down to the massive hangover the next day. Wouldn’t want to do it too often, it’s too time consuming and there are many other things I like to do.

    I grew up in a town where getting drunk on Saturday night was the entertainment. My parents didn’t, but as a teenager, I wanted to fit in. Wouldn’t want that in my life, but an occasional joyous, over the top drunk. You bet.

  31. sunflowerradio
    September 26, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I drank really heavily in my last year and a half of college, but because I didn’t start drinking until I had pretty well ensconced myself in the activist/queer/progressive circle at my university, I rarely felt the presence of gendered drinking norms. But I did a lot of work on preventing and raising awareness of campus sexual assault, and in that world of victim-blaming newspaper articles, there was a lot of discussion of how alcohol played into a woman’s getting assaulted.

    I drank because I was in a group of people I trusted and most activity took place on or near campus so driving wasn’t an issue. (A friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver when I was 17, so drunk driving is one of the things I absolutely cannot abide. There’s no excuse.) And, yes, because everyone else was doing it. I liked, and still like, the feeling of being drunk in certain social situations. There were a few times when I did things that I felt guilty about in the morning – nothing awful, but dumb, or minor-league hurtful. But almost always, drinking was just fun.

    I was really judgmental about drinking in high school, and became less so in college, but didn’t actually start drinking until I studied abroad in Italy. I didn’t like wine before I came, but there, good, local red wine was incredibly cheap at the grocery store. Everyone drank a lot of it. And of course, in Italian culture, wine is as much a part of the meal as any food. I came back from Italy pretty hooked. My mom and dad both have a lot of alcoholism in their families, and they don’t drink, but they’d never tried to warn me against drinking. When I came back and was drinking more, my dad told me that if I ever started drinking what I felt might be too much, to take a few weeks off, and if I kept thinking about alcohol and couldn’t keep my mind off it, to maybe try to cut back. Which I still think is good advice.

    Now that I’m graduated, I don’t drink to excess nearly as often. As I reshape my group of friends, there are just fewer opportunities to drink with people I trust. And I won’t drink where there are no people I trust. Also, drinking goes hand in hand with staying out late and dancing, something I can’t really do any more since I started work. But I’ll often have a glass or two of red wine with dinner. And if I go out to eat at any nice restaurant, I’ll almost always have a glass of wine or a cocktail. I like the Italian idea that the drink is part of the meal.

    • BBBShrewHarpy
      September 26, 2013 at 10:05 am

      I think there is an interesting effect with age in terms of the “silly but not dreadful” things you do when drunk. It is because of these things I don’t like being drunk now, whereas I did enjoy it (barring hangover and regrets) in college. The sillier things don’t get any less silly with age, but they do seem worse, and a lot of my life revolves around work and colleagues where drunken silliness could be disastrous, hence my personal distaste for getting drunk now even though I still love to drink.

  32. Coraline
    September 26, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I drink because I enjoy it.

    I enjoy a good martini or a well-crafted lager. A gin and tonic or a highball is a great way to relax at the end of the day. I enjoy good, high-quality alcohol, the same way that I enjoy good, high-quality food. Quality over quantity every time.

    When I was younger, I thought that I really didn’t like beer or other alcohol… then I was exposed to the “good stuff” and I realized that what I didn’t like was the low-quality crap that is pretty much the only thing that most college students have access to.

    (If it has that super-harsh taste or has a chemically smell… those are from fusel oils and generally mean that what you have is less distilled and/or of low quality. Remember… vodka is supposed to be colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Kind of like fish, if you can smell it, its “off”. Fusel oils in hard alcohols are also what contributes to hangovers… if you are drinking top shelf stuff, you will have less to worry about in that respect.)

    I don’t think that gender or identity influences at all how or what I drink… except that I don’t care for a lot of the very sweet, syrupy concoctions that can be thought of as traditionally “feminine”. Though this might just be because as I have gotten older my palate has moved from liking sweet things toward preferring savory. Sweet stuff just tastes cloying to me now. I prefer dry, savory, drinks.

    These days most of the beer my husband and I drink is beer that we have brewed ourselves. We mostly brew darker beers – chocolate stouts, coffee stouts, porters, etc… though we do make some lighter lagers and ales for summer drinking. The White House Honey Porter recipe is one of our favorites, and produces a really mellow, smooth beer. Very nice.

    We also make our own flavored vodkas as well as various fruit and herbal decoctions.

    Its a craft.

    Some of what we make we give away to family members as gifts, but a lot of what we make we drink ourselves. That’s part of the fun of home-brewing and experimenting with making your own mixers – getting to consume them! So a beer with dinner or a cocktail afterwards while we wind down in the evening if a fairly normal, daily, event for us.

    • kg
      September 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      My appreciation of what I’m drinking has skyrocketed since I started brewing my own beer. I can look back on the process from grain to glass and point out mistakes (hopefully not to many!) or places where I can make it better or different. It’s an immensely satisfying hobby.

  33. Ms. Kristen J.
    September 26, 2013 at 11:48 am

    My views on alcohol have changed a lot over the years. My father was a recovering alcoholic by the time I was born, so their was never any booze in our house. And he told me dreadful stories of the poor choices he made while drunk or high (ex. Getting stabbed and almost dying). As a consequence, I grew up thinking that alcohol and drugs were highly dangerous.

    In college, I finally tried beer (which I found disgusting), wine (eh…), and spirits (yum!). But I was still fairly hesitant to drink around people that weren’t very close friends. And to be honest, the experience reinforced the idea that drinking is dangerous. I was the designated “responsible person” who dragged her binge drinking friends out of dangerous situations (including almost falling off the roof of a 12 story building…for fuck’s sake). So, on the rare occasions when I would drink, it was usually with close friends on a night in.

    Law school and the first few years of practicing were less binge drinking, more social drinking. Interestingly, there was a lot more social pressure to drink particularly at the law firm. And my response to social pressure is to dig my heals in even more firmly. Why is it that some people who drink are uncomfortable with people who don’t?

    At my current job, my coworkers don’t really care one way or another. So, if we go out together, I feel I can comfortably have a drink.

    The more obvious gendered aspect of my experience with alcohol is mainly related to what I like vs. what I’m expected to like. I like single malt scotch…as old as I can afford…no ice. That is beverage heaven. You would not believe how often that order raises eyebrows or causes comment. I once had a bartender ask me if I knew what I was ordering or if I had just read it in a book somewhere. Because that was a very “manly drink.” I told him he could put a pink umbrella in it if it would soothe his ruffled sensibilities.

  34. Verity
    September 26, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I grew up in an extended family of social drinkers–one side big on wines and mixed drinks, the other on beers and harder liquors. Both were connosiers in their own ways. People would get drunk occasionally, but that was never the point of the drinking. We kids were always around the edges, tasting this and that. My grandfather fixed me my first mixed drink (I’m sure very watered down) when I was eight. All my friends in highschool didn’t drink; they were waiting until they turned 21, and they talked about it A LOT. I remember worrying about that a little, that they’d go overboard and not know how to handle it.

    My undergraduate college didn’t allow drinking–not that that stopped anyone who really wanted to, but nobody was having wild keggers or anything. Or they weren’t inviting me, heh. We’d sit around occasionally drinking hot chocolate and peppermint schnaps while playing scrabble, and that was as crazy as it got. I mainly missed being able to use wine to cook with.

    So it wasn’t until grad school that I really saw the stereotypical drinking culture. The main gendered difference in types of drinking was that the guys were drinking the cheapest possible beer to get wasted on and the women were doing jello shots. But there was some overlap between the two. There was some mockery of the fruity type cocktails, but not overtly because they were girly, more because they were expensive. I got the same reaction when I’d get a nice draft beer instead of a can of pabst or coors. And everyone thought it was hillarious that I drank gin, for some reason.

  35. EG
    September 26, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    I grew up around people who drank–not heavily, but my dad would have a few beers on his days off or after work, and he’d always give me a sip or two, with two results: I like the taste of beer, unlike many of my friends, and I’m very good at selecting beer.

    I started drinking when I was 16 and very depressed–my parents had just split up and I started going to bars. I liked it. A lot. My superego was even stronger then than it is now, and being able to turn that voice off for a few hours was great. To be honest, I still like it, and I don’t understand how someone wouldn’t–which is fine, I mean, I don’t understand how someone could like jogging, but obviously plenty of people do, and that works for them. I really like being drunk.

    But I don’t get drunk any more because I get vile hangovers, disgusting, immobilizing, eight-hours-of-stomach-flu hangovers. I would lose entire days to them. When I turned 21, I went out drinking three times that week, and on the third day, as I was curled up on my bed after puking, I thought to myself “I’m not going to do this any more.” And I didn’t. I’d had the same thought before, but something about it stuck this time–perhaps just that I was 21 instead of 19 and the executive function part of my brain had woken up after its long adolescent sleep.

    Which isn’t to say that it’s never happened again. It’s happened–I slip up, I don’t realize how strong a drink is, I get depressed and don’t take care of myself. But I’d say it happens once every couple years now, rather than once a week or so. Now I have a glass of cider or sangria or Pimm’s cup (I like sweet things) with a meal or when I’m at a show, and that’ll do it. Sometimes 2. Not more than that, or I run the risk of being violently ill the next day, and that’s just not fun. I like being drunk, but I don’t like it more than I hate vomiting.

  36. Jennifer
    September 26, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    My dad was a problem drinker, though I didn’t know about that until later in life. My parents drank daily (hard alcohol before bed) and were fine with letting me try alcohol with meals or snacks (wine for special occasions, beer to taste, never hard alcohol). I didn’t notice any gender difference in drinking among adults when I was little. When I was about 12 a friend suggested we get drunk and I found myself a bit too drawn to it—stealing hard alcohol from my parents, bringing it to school and drinking it in the bathroom, etc. My young adolescent years were a time of problem drinking, though it didn’t seriously impact school or expose me to violence, although some of my friends experienced this. I and my girlfriends used to “shouldertap,” which meant asking older men we didn’t know to buy alcohol (generally beer) for us. The men we asked, if they agreed to buy, always just gave us the stuff and didn’t try to have us get into their car or anything, but one of my girlfriends had several problematic relationships with older men that involved alcohol to some degree. We would take the beer procured via shouldertapping back to our underage mixed gender group to “party,” which meant drinking games such as quarters. The underage boys in our group had no success shouldertapping, which is why the girls did it. The alcohol definitely lowered my sexual inhibitions and I wound up making out with people who I wouldn’t have otherwise, but nothing more than that. Around 15 or 16 when my friends started driving drunk, I think it dawned on me that this was risky and then I stayed away from alcohol. People who were drunk or seemed to really want to get drunk kind of made me nervous by that point. I skipped the college drinking experience because I went to a commuter school.

    In graduate school I had my first exposure to what struck me as an elitist side of alcohol consumption, involving knowledge of different types and brands of wine/beer/liquor combined with a certain looking down on people who either didn’t have the same knowledge or who consumed low quality products (unless done in a hipster, ironic way, of course, which was also often offensive…). This was a definite turnoff for me, given the class implications of being able to afford high quality liquor, spend time/money at tastings, etc. Not every connoisseur is this way of course—it can be presented in a “this is an interest I have” way as opposed to a “don’t you know better/what kind of pond scum are you” way.

    Now I like the occasional wine/beer. I’m still not very knowledgeable about types or brands but have some notion of what I like and why. I like dark, full-bodied beers and prefer strong-flavored dry red wines, but have never gotten any gendered comments about my preferences as apparently others on this thread have, maybe because I only drink at informal social occasions among people I know (no bars). I realize that I crave it a bit much, though it hasn’t become a problem for me. I guess I’ve noticed the weight concern aspect with women (and, increasingly, men), but this is so generally pervasive that I hadn’t seen it as having to do with alcohol specifically.

  37. tmc
    September 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    I drink only occasionally, maybe once or twice every couple of months, and it’s usually something like a couple Woodchuck hard ciders or a glass or two of Moscato if I’m at someone’s house, or a couple mixed drinks if I’m at a social event or restaurant. I think that alcohol is expensive stuff and almost never worth the cost so I usually just don’t even bother with it. We don’t keep alcohol in the house. I hate hate HATE beer, love Moscato, and have come to appreciate a variety of mixed drinks.

    Maybe once a year I get totally shitfaced with my closest vanilla friends (all women) just for the hell of it? My friends likewise don’t drink much, but every once in a while we decide to just indulge. We drink at home and make up stupid games (like seeing who can hold plank position or stand on one foot for the longest) or play Super Mario or play board/card games and are just silly, and none of us drink to the point of becoming ill. I don’t have hangovers no matter how wasted I get, and we all become affectionate and silly when drunk so the next morning it’s always no harm, no foul (although I’m sure our livers would disagree).

    When it comes to my kinky friends, I do not drink with them, but that’s because the potential for spontaneous kinky play is almost always possible in any given social situation, and I am not okay with playing while buzzed with anyone other than my boyfriend or husband (and even then, it’s done with caution and lots of activities are not on the table in that kind of situation).

    Now when I was vacationing with my boyfriend a couple of months ago, I drank heavily pretty much all day long because why not? It was all-inclusive and there was an open bar from 10am to 1am and I took full advantage of it. Now that I’m 40 pounds heavier than I was in college, my tolerance for alcohol is apparently amazing and even though I had 2-3 drinks with every sit-down meal and usually one in between meals, I never actually got DRUNK and remained pleasantly buzzed for the entirety of the trip (and of course, no hangovers). I’m pretty sure my boyfriend was surprised since I’m not known to be much of a drinker. Not something I’d done before and not something I’m adverse to doing again given a similar situation (no kids, open bar, no fucks to give cuz vacation). I also drank a shitload of espresso throughout that week (there was an espresso machine in the room so again, why not?) and I was eating pretty much constantly. It was my first adults-only vacation since becoming a parent and my first-ever all-inclusive vacation, and I considered it my Week of Total Indulgence and therefore acted accordingly.

  38. TimmyTwinkles
    September 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I can possibly offer a slightly different perspective. I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict (bolivian marching powder); thus I’m extremely thankful to be sober and clean, though I understand that many people are not addicts and can imbibe and partake with no problemo. Someone above mentioned class as a distinguishing factor, which I have to agree with. When I was in law school on the east coast (at that point I was a full-blown semi-functioning alcoholic), I was spending 50-100 a week to keep myself in booze at home when I was drinking solo. This didnt include going out to bars with friends and solo (sadly) 4-5 days/nights a week, where a typical bill could be anywhere from 20 to 200. Then there were random trips on the Acela to paint Manhattan or DC red. Lets not even go into the other stuff. Suffice it to say I had personal sources of income to pay for these absurd expenditures. My drinking cronies were all from wealthy families and if anything could afford to spend much more than I could. My point is that alcohol on a large scale is damn expensive, particularly on the coasts. Not that you cant drink a ton on the cheap, but it does take a bit of guacamole to be a respectable drunk.

    • EG
      September 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      but it does take a bit of guacamole to be a respectable drunk.

      Respectable, perhaps. But I’m pretty sure the homeless men who lived in my neighborhood when I was a kid didn’t have a ton of money, and I’m equally sure that some of them were alcoholics.

      • TimmyTwinkles
        September 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm

        Oh yes, I daresay the majority of alcoholics dont come from affluent backgrounds, at least thats been my experience in recovery circles. The “respectable drunk” was tongue in cheek, though i should have clarified. I may have been mistaken too in my view of the commentariat here. I sort of assume a more yuppified, 20-40, east/west coast vibe on here. In which case, it would make sense to me that an important distinguishing factor in regards to how much someone drinks ( if they drink at all) is discretionary income. However, I may assume wrong.

      • llamathatducks
        September 26, 2013 at 3:41 pm

        Well, firstly, there’s quite a bit of diversity among the commenters on this site. But perhaps more importantly, this is a community that tries to be as inclusive as possible, including beyond its membership – which means that even if we don’t represent all of society ourselves, we try not to universalize our experiences.

  39. Donna L
    September 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Breaking up a long comment in moderation into two parts to see if I can keep it out of moderation that way:

    The idea that Jews don’t drink, or at least don’t get drunk (except maybe on Purim), is obviously a myth. But it was pretty much true of my family (even counting the great-great-grandmother who was a tavern-keeper in Poland in the third quarter of the 19th century, something that was a common occupation back then for Jewish women, and her son who owned a saloon in Chicago before Prohibition!)

    My parents didn’t drink at all except an occasional glass of wine at parties; they just didn’t like it. I don’t know how much drinking wine and hard liquor was part of German-Jewish culture, which was my mother’s culture, and which she transmitted to me in many ways. My mother’s father drank beer and gave me a taste of it when I was 3 because he thought it was hilarious, but my mother didn’t drink beer, and other than that one time and a few sips of wine over the years, I had never had a drink at the time I went to college, and certainly had never been even remotely intoxicated.

    In my second year of college, when I was 18, I decided it was time to learn what it felt like to be drunk, so I sat in a friend’s dorm room drinking gin and tonics until I threw up. But until that unfortunate conclusion, I discovered that I liked the feeling of being drunk, and filled with benevolence for the world and everyone in it, with (like EG) my omnipresent superego (and other issues) turned off for a while — a new experience entirely!

  40. Donna L
    September 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    So although I never developed a liking for beer (I’ve always hated the way it tastes), for the rest of my time in college I had a habit of getting drunk regularly on hard liquor on weekends, at parties and mixers (the drinking age was 18 then, and free drinks were omnipresent) — but had a lot of trouble knowing when to stop, and almost always ended up getting sick and having a horrible, day-long hangover the next day. Not surprising in retrospect given the amount I sometimes drank, which I’m sure was exactly what’s called binge drinking now. I’m pretty lucky, I suppose, that nothing worse happened, given that I’m only 5′ 2″ tall, and weighed about 103 pounds when I was in college, but once had 14 hard drinks in the space of one evening, and another time — a couple of days after my mother died, when I was 20 — I’m pretty sure that I drank about half a bottle of gin, and had the worst hangover of my life.

    After that, I pretty much stopped, because getting that drunk and throwing up and having hangovers wasn’t really much fun, and because I never really developed a fondness for just the taste of any alcoholic drink. So for the last 30+ years it’s been an unusual year when I have a total of more than five or six glasses of wine — which I do sort of like, in small doses! — in a 12-month period. More than one glass of wine puts me to sleep, and even that much usually disagrees with me and triggers some sort of problem with my Crohn’s Disease, which was first diagnosed when I was in law school. There have been years when I haven’t had anything to drink at all, because I’ve been on medications that precluded it, and it wasn’t difficult because I didn’t miss it one bit.

    And as far as drinking being the norm in New York City (which I assume is the location Jill was referring to), nobody, ever, has given me a hard time or said a word because I order ginger ale instead of something alcoholic. Who cares? Nobody I know. And I don’t know anybody who drinks a lot anyway. (Except for my former spouse, who was a functioning alcoholic, although I didn’t even realize it for a long time.) Liquor cabinet? I don’t have one, and nobody has ever assumed I did. Even in New York City, I think the drinking culture has changed enormously in the last 40 or 50 years. (Just read any novel written in the ’40′s through the ’60′s — you’d think that’s all anybody ever did all day long, and that people had a drink to mark the occasion every time they walked from one room of their apartment to the next. Perhaps an exaggeration, but not much. And it’s not like that anymore. I’ve been a lawyer for more than 30 years now, and have never, ever, not once, seen anyone order a drink at lunchtime on a business day.)

  41. Donna L
    September 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    OK, it worked. The one long comment can be left in moderation or deleted, please.

  42. olympia
    September 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Chiming in from the alcoholic choir here……

    I’m a drunk. Not practicing now, but at the height of my addiction I was taking in a good sixty to seventy units a week. Before then, while I drank less often, it was extremely rare that I didn’t drink to get drunk. There was simply no point to that. I think then, what I find most amazing is not those who have no taste for alcohol at all, but those who do, but in moderate doses. Learning about the neuroscience behind all this has been the biggest factor behind my staying sober.

    • TimmyTwinkles
      September 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Amen to the neuroscience, great short movie on that, you’ve probably seen it but I forget the name. Congrats on your sobriety, seriously. Ive relapsed quite a few times in the past, am doing really well right now but am also getting a vivitrol shot once a month. The AA purists dont approve, but screw them Ive got some solid sobriety now and life is finally getting back on track.

      • olympia
        September 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm

        Congrats on your sobriety too! It’s not easy, but is it ever nice to have some sanity back. Have you read In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts? That’s the book that really got things rolling for me. So helpful.

      • TimmyTwinkles
        September 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm

        Thanks! Yeah it is, I’m having to adjust to being a semi-respectable member of society again. No I havent, I’ll check that out.

  43. Donna L
    September 26, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I think if I were in a position where I WAS around, like, coke I would just faceplant in it… it’s been a few years but I think that’s one I just need to stay away from forever

    It’s been more than a few years for me, but I know what you mean.

    • pheenobarbidoll
      September 26, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      I’m very lucky that none of the drugs I did affected me like that. Once I decided I was done, I was done.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon
      September 27, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      It reminds me of the only thing an adult ever said to me that got me thinking about smoking… I was at someone’s grad party, smoking at a picnic table, and a man sat down across the table and said ‘you know, I haven’t had a cigarette in fifteen years and I could still just reach across this table and snatch that thing out of your hand.’ That’s always stuck with me. I still haven’t managed to quit (but I’m trying), but I completely understand what he meant now. Both about cigarettes and the other thing.

      And my doing-tons-of-coke phase was really pretty short-lived relative to my whole life (which has been short! I’m still just a spring chicken). But it had a p powerful impact I guess

  44. roro80
    September 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    I’m a pretty heavy drinker, married to a very heavy drinker. As such, I enjoy drinking quite a bit, love trying new things, mixing up new gin cocktails, trying craft beers, going wine tasting, drinking with friends, drinking with my partner, drinking alone. Alcohol is definitely part of my daily life — a go-to for celebration or mourning or boredom or self-medication.

    It probably started because I’m a woman in very male-dominated world, and was always “one of the boys”, a status I definitely took pride in. I don’t really feel that way in particularly anymore, but some of the habits stuck around, drinking being one of them.

    It hasn’t been an unmitigated good in my life, but I’m also highly productive at work, do lots of activities, and have an amazing circle of friends, so I’m not really worried about it too much. Maybe I should be. I don’t know.

  45. slurp
    September 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I drink consistently. Most nights just one drink, some nights a couple, some nights more than that. A few nights none, but those are rare. Drinking with friends is great, with a book is pretty nice, too, out on the patio watching the stars, alone or otherwise, is awesome.
    I’m into wine and whisk(e)y, and generally don’t want it if it’s not tasty. I’m similar with food, though I will eat something if the alternative is starvation. I’m don’t drink alcohol unless something good is available.
    I’ve gone through periods (months) when I realized I was getting drunk a bit too regularly, and I cut back. I’ve gone through periods (years) when I had little interest in a second drink.
    Bottom line is that alcohol is my drug of choice, and it adds value to my life, and I’m comfortable with that. But I did just end a relationship with someone who I thought had a problem with their drinking, in that they regularly don’t remember chunks of the night before the next day. And aside from having our dates forgotten, which sucked, I realized that one big part of the problem for me was purely selfish. I like to drink. I like my partner to drink, too, so we can drink together. Someone who drinks dangerously will eventually have to stop drinking.

    • wanttobeanon
      September 27, 2013 at 10:35 am

      +1 on those last two sentences. I wanted to avoid dating people who drank what I judged to be too much, and one of those reasons was knowing I definitely wanting to be able to enjoy responsible drinking with my partner in the long-term. (Then of course I married a non-drinker, so joke’s on me.)

      By the way, your name is awesomely perfect for this thread. My brain crossed wires and I read your first sentence as, “I slurp consistently.”

      • slurp
        September 27, 2013 at 12:07 pm

        Thanks. I was feeling a bit odd about this decision, because it wasn’t the self-preservational not wanting to deal with an alcoholic, but the desire to continue to sit by the fire with matching glasses. So nice to know I’m not alone–even if you did end up with a non-drinker (eek!)
        Oh, and I slurp pretty consistently, too, so it’s not an inaccurate read. Though usually noodles rather than booze. Beer is pretty slurpable, though.

  46. September 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I’ve had alcohol only a few times as it’s my least favorite drug. I have bad memories of drinking – when I first drank at the age of 15, I did so mostly out of peer pressure, and I didn’t know how to handle it. The night I drank ended in me vomiting profusely and crying. Moreover, 15 was when I was undergoing a lot of cognitive dissonance about my religious beliefs, so when I drank I felt extremely guilty and horrible. Things got worse when I got bronchitis a few months later – I was convinced that God was punishing me for drinking.

    Another time I drank was when I went to my first punk rock concert (also at the age of 15). I got extremely drunk and ended up being physically assaulted in a mosh pit.

    The last two times I drank were last year, and I had a good time. I wasn’t nearly as obnoxious (although one of those times I did get drunk and high for New Years, which made me act a bit strangely needless to say), I handled myself well, and I had no feelings of guilt. Nor was I experiencing any cognitive dissonance at the time.

    Overall, though, I’ve had bad experiences with drinking.

    • September 27, 2013 at 12:19 am

      To clarify, I didn’t do any actual moshing. I just drunkenly stumbled into the mosh pit.

    • Echo Zen
      September 27, 2013 at 2:08 am

      We don’t judge here, if that’s what you were thinking. :-)

  47. Librarygoose
    September 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    I rarely ever drink but when I do it’s “manly” drinks because I hate the taste of alcohol mixed with sweet. I’ve only been drunk once* and drunk me is sarcastic and filled with disdain for most other people.

    * I have a weird relationship with drinking because my mom is an alcoholic and I viscerally hate the smell of alcohol on people and cannot stand the taste or smell of wine.

    • EG
      September 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      drunk me is sarcastic and filled with disdain for most other people.

      Drunk you and sober me should get together. I like being drunk because drunk me is far less sarcastic and far more optimistic about other people.

  48. PrettyAmiable
    September 28, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I never got around to posting, but I’m totally a drinker. I find it’s hard not to be in New York City – am I alone? Everyone drinks socially here. Any time my best friend wants to hang out, we always end up getting drinks even if the original plan was not related to alcohol. Work happy hours, first dates. All of it involves alcohol.

    Which, by the way, makes it such a pain to socialize when I’m depressed. Drinking makes my depression worse (which I frankly think is true for most people with depression). The two times I’ve gotten pretty suicidal, there was a lot of booze involved. Of course, the depression strikes because I’m ridiculously lonely, and the only option for socialization when I get out of work at ten-ish is a bar, and thus I’ve been in a lovely shit-cycle for about six months now.

    As for what I drink, it’s usually hard liquor. I don’t like the way beer tastes, and it sits poorly in my stomach – the combination means I’m likely to vom. Wine is okay, but I’m a big fan of mixed drinks.

  49. Alexandra
    September 28, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    I don’t drink much. Every now and then I will get resentful about the fact that, as a bipolar person with two alcoholic parents, normal alcohol consumption is yet another part of life I don’t have access to. When I get resentful, I go out and buy a six pack or a bottle of wine, which sits in the fridge for a month or two because seriously – how can anyone enjoy drinking more than one or two beers a night? It is so revolting to me. And yet I have many friends who love to drink, and who drink a lot; and when I was still living with them I drank socially, and far more regularly than I do now.

    As it happens, I do like alcohol – I like the taste of wine, beer, and whiskey; I like the camaraderie of a bunch of happy, uninhibited people. Funnily enough, I actually quite enjoy being sober around moderately intoxicated, happy people. As a bipolar person my emotions live *very* close to the surface, and I get a contact high just from being near happy disinhibited people – I don’t need the alcohol as social lube. On the other hand, I am viscerally terrified of drunkenness. The last time my mother went on a bad bender while I was around, I was so scared I almost lost my mind.

    Alcohol isn’t worth it to me. Oh, it’s nice, I suppose – but I fundamentally do not understand how people can drink a substance which they know regularly destroys the lives of a small but not insignificant percentage of the people on this world. I wish alcohol didn’t exist. I wish there were no recreational drugs. Nobody’s “good time” is worth the pain that these drugs have caused to the people I love. Same way I feel about guns. Sure, you’re “responsible” – until the day you aren’t – but some of us don’t have the luxury to live with responsible drinkers, and that legally available alcohol might wind up getting me killed one day if a relative gets drunk enough to make good on their threats.

    • Computer Soldier Porygon
      September 30, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      I hate responding to comments more than a day after the fact, but oh well! This is an interesting perspective to me as a fellow bipolar person (is anyone on the internet not diagnosed bipolar? kidding sort of – maybe it’s just that people on the internet talk about it more) whose impulsiveness has often centered around alcohol and drug use

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