Drunk Girls

The other night, I was talking to my mum. I can’t remember what we were talking about, but at one point, she said something like, “Yeah, that’s like young girls putting themselves at risk by getting drunk.”

“No,” I said. “No.”

“Yeah…” she looked at me, confused.

“No, don’t say that. That’s not right.”

“Yeah… girls going out, getting drunk… they’re putting themselves at risk.”


I need to try and explain this as clearly as possible, because I’ve had this argument with both my boyfriend and my mum, and I’m guessing many, many more people in my life would agree with them on this issue. And this is really freaking important.

So, let’s look at the logic.

If a female gets drunk, and there is a male around who might mistreat her, then she will be at more risk of being mistreated. Therefore, she should protect herself, and not get drunk.

Makes sense, right?

Nope. This is why.

(I’ll hang here for a sec, in case you want to read those.)


Misogyny/sexism, like racism, is an act of dehumanisation. If there was, theoretically speaking, a country of blue and red people, and the blue people believed that the red people were less than them – less smart, inferior physiology, less human – they would likely subject the red people to inhumane acts. These might range all the way from acts of physical violence, sexual violence, oppression, terrorism, and psychological violence, to everyday, culturally subtle inhumane acts like rudeness, dismissal, objectifying, and small remarks designed to discomfort the listener and reinforce the hierarchy. Maybe the red people would be expected to look pretty, or to do manual labour, or to stay at home, whereas the blue people would be the thinkers and the decision makers.

So, let’s say some of these blue people are quite messed up, when it comes to this power structure. They really don’t see the red people as equal, or even as equally human. And if there was a red person, say at a party, who was drunk, there might be a messed-up blue person who felt entitled to use the red person as they wish. Or maybe a messed-up blue person is angry that the red people are taking jobs from the blue people, so maybe they beat up a drunk red person.

And let’s say this happens a lot. And nobody really knows how to stop the blue people from doing what they’re doing… because, well… that’s just what blue people do. That’s the excuse. That’s just what blue people do.

So the red people tell each other (and the blue people tell them too): Don’t get drunk. You might be mistreated by a red person. 

The red people try not to get drunk (and yet, awfully, many sober red people are still harmed by blue people) and if, occasionally, one of them does get drunk, and a blue person harms them, then everyone says: Ah. They shouldn’t have been drunk. Or: Ah. They shouldn’t have been dressed in a minidress. Or: Ah. They shouldn’t have been out that late. Or: Ah. They shouldn’t have walked home alone. 

This goes on for decades! Nuts, right? Blue people are terrorising red people for decades, and nobody really does anything about it, except tell the red people to be careful? Yep. That’s nuts. So, this goes on. Nothing really changes. Until one day…

Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat.

The red people refuse to live their lives based on “keeping themselves safe” by tiptoeing around and trying to be careful not to anger the blue people, or get in their way, or be drunk around them. Because it was bullshit. That was never keeping them safe. Holding their heads high and standing up to inhumane treatment will keep them safe. Bonding together as a group – all the red people, acting in defiance, saying, “We’re not going to avoid dark alleyways, we’re not going to wear hessian sacks, we’re not going to avoid alcohol at birthday parties!”

Nothing will ever, ever, ever change if those red people don’t stand up and refuse to be terrorised anymore. If you bow down to the blue people, that’s all they will see you as: less, inferior, subhuman. But if you react like a blue person would, if they were treated that way… Just imagine! They would fight back. They wouldn’t be told to put on more clothes, or to take an early train home. Imagine telling a blue person not to get drunk! They would react indignantly, with anger and defiance, because their rights are being curbed. The red people need to feel and do the same.

So sure, tell your daughter not to get drunk because she might get harmed. Many females will get harmed because you tell her that. Your own daughter will be psychologically harmed because you tell her that. You are telling women to act differently than men would act in these situations, so you are asking them to act inferior, less than, subhuman. You are reinforcing the Way It Is. The terrorisation of women.

Or:

Tell your daughter to get smashed, wear a minidress, sleep around, stay out all night, take the last train home… and tell all of your daughters the same, and all of their girlfriends, and tell them to all do it together. Talk to them about politics, financial security, how to ask for a raise; send them on an advanced driving course so they don’t feel like they “drive like a girl”. Tell them to ask What do you mean?, to talk back, to speak up, and to be defiant.

Release your daughter from the old-world version of a woman. Be careful when you say, “My daughter is such a girl,” and “My son is such a boy,” that you are not saying: My daughter will be groped in bars, ignored in class, cat-called on the street, be too embarrassed to run anywhere because she “runs like a girl,” be too embarrassed to throw a ball because she “throws like a girl,” be intimidated on the roads and have a stressful accident because she “drives like a girl”; she will look over her shoulder everywhere she walks at night, and everywhere that she is alone, wondering if the man nearby is about to attack her; she will take a job where she is being paid $49,500 when a man in the same position is being paid $60,000 (yep, the pay gap is 17.5% in Australia). The consequences go on and on.


The other night, I had dinner with some friends, and at 11:00pm I bid them farewell.

“Huh,” said the female. “You’ve got your car here, right?”

“Nah,” I said. “I’m walking home. Fifteen minutes walk.”

“No, don’t be stupid, don’t walk home at this hour. I’ll give you a lift.”

“Nah,” I said.

The male chimed in, “Yeah, no, seriously… I’ll give you a lift.”

That’s the reinforcement we get, every single day. Be less, be inferior, be scared.

This is still a rights movement; we are still asking for equal rights, equal pay, and to be viewed as equal humans.


[Image credit: Melbourne Now]

5 comments

  1. prij says:

    So recently I spent two weeks in that tropical home of mine. One of those nights, we went out. I was sober, and everyone else was quite drunk, and honestly what I saw/experienced frightened me.

    Packs of, let’s say blue people, targeting and surrounding themselves around significantly intoxicated and unaware red people. Getting close, encroaching their personal space, uninvited touching. There was no humanity about it, it seemed so primitive and animalistic and *calculated*, like predators hunting.

    And for the first time ever, I had this oldschool thought that if I lived here and had a daughter, I would never encourage her to go out drinking. I was embarrassed for having this thought, but when I looked around me this is what I saw:

    Whenever a red person lost their footing or indicated drunkenness, a pack of blues from one corner would descend on them like hungry wolves. I wondered how many reds in a night were subject to things they didn’t even know happened because they’d lost awareness. I have no doubt that gang rape occurs here on a weekendly basis.

    Earlier I’d talked to an old friend who had been married to a law enforcement officer who in the end started beating her with his uniform belt (“it really hurts bad”) and forced her to do things she didn’t want to. I was horrified. I asked her: “Where do you go if the people who protect you are doing this sort of stuff?”

    Sadly, there are some societies and places where the majority of the blue people are messed up, and support for red people is minimal, and the more red people put themselves in compromising situations, the more power blue people think they have.

    Yes there is support for reds, but it’s minimal and slow, and I think that in these sorts of places, what people really mean when they say “don’t get drunk” is “don’t lose awareness/consciousness”, because there is a real element of danger here. It made me wonder if people who say this in better places just have memories of a worse time.

    I think what they really mean is drink smart.

    • Fox says:

      I understand what you’re saying. That anecdote is horrifying.

      I think the two situations are at different points in the rights movement, and… well, I’m thinking about a bunch of young female adults going to a club in Melbourne and feeling empowered and knowing their rights – and maybe they have some drinks, and are having a good time, and as soon as a man tries to stick his hand between their legs, they report the man for assault. They get his name, and the police are called, and he gets hauled before the law. I want to see that kind of future. Because… when I was growing up, we didn’t think it was assault. We just thought it was something we had to accept. Even when I was out with you in Prahran the last time, I was being physically harassed.

      In your tropical homeland, it seems like the situation is quite different. Like the rights movement has hardly begun. Would that be right? In that situation, very early on in the process, I think you’re right. There is radical exploitation going on, and it needs to stop.

      The danger, I think, in perpetuating a guideline like “don’t drink” or “drink smart” in general is that there are infinite possible guidelines that are all geared to absolve the blue people of any responsibility whatsoever. “But she was wearing a miniskirt.” “But she was so trashed.” “She can’t expect to look like that and not get hit on.”

      Don’t stay out, don’t walk by yourself, don’t wear sequins, don’t wear red lipstick, don’t look pretty, don’t look ugly. And they are not really guidelines, they are bullshit. You can’t successfully adhere to them – they’re infinite and contradictory. Instead of bullshit guidelines, I want us to remind the red people: Know your rights. Know what’s assault. Know how to report assault. Call out sexist remarks in business meetings. Ask your manager, point-blank, if you’re getting paid the same as the blue person who sits next to you. Stand up for your rights.

      I didn’t write this in the blog post, because I don’t like saying something needs to change without having an idea on how to change it, but really, the whole conversation needs to be about blue people. We need to stop talking about the bullshit guidelines for red people, and we need to start talking about what the blue people believe, and about their behaviour. In Australia, as in the tropics, I have no idea how that might be approached.

  2. prij says:

    “Hardly begun”, after the conversations I had seems like an understatement to me, but there *is* a Crisis Centre, and divorce is happening so there is *some* movement, but nowhere near the amount that I’m accustomed to.

    I agree that the conversation needs to be around blue people – which is why I think GC is so great and I would love to instigate something like this in my tropical homeland. Sometimes I feel like the hardest challenge and most frustrating thing is convincing the Blue people themselves of how important this is, but I did meet some inspiring people with shifting viewpoints, and I think that gathering them together as you have done is an excellent start.

    • prij says:

      ^ ugh I got confused with R+B again. I definitely think in Melbourne and NZ, the conversation should be around Blue people.

      In my tropical homeland, there’s still that initial hurdle of identifying why certain things are wrong to red people, there is such a high level of misogyny and abuse that it frightens me, I don’t even know how you would start a conversation around the Blue people. In this instance, I think allowing the reds for a safe and open forum for discussion is a good start.

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