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Getting Trashed is SO HOT right now.

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New Foxtel show “Gossip Girl” is causing an uproar with its scenes of underage drinking – teenage star Serena downs vodka shots like Carrie downed Cosmopolitans. But is this just art imitating life? Young female celebrities are famous predominately because they regularly binge drink and go into rehab; there are entire web sites devoted to drunk celebrities ( all of those featured are female). Whilst back in the “real world,” Facebook features profiles with pictures posted by young women that proudly show themselves passed out when drunk, drinking beer on the toilet, vomiting…

American site Feministing, aimed at radical young feminists,  argues this phenomena is no biggie – girls and women should have the right to get just as trashed as the boys and should not feel pressured to act “lady like”:

“I can take the health line of approach that maybe binge drinking isn’t good for you, but the young women should know better or should be ashamed doesn’t work for me. I am always weary of shaming women for things that men do freely. Guys in college get wasted as a ritual, they don’t have to hide it from future employers, in fact they are practicing to drink with future co-workers. But women have to be careful not to ruin their ladylike manners.”

I don’t like double standards either but I do think binge drinking in women, and particularly in our young women, is deeply concerning.

The fact is that research shows teen drinking is on the rise and not just accepted, but expected. This is not new – all the “cool kids” got trashed when I was in High School too  – myself included. Why we thought it was cool to vomit all over ourselves and stumble about alludes me now but it certainly was the thing to do.  Drinking excessively has become a huge issue for teenage girls – recent Australian surveys show that half say they drink alcohol, with one in five confessing to having done something they regret while they were drunk.

The fact is that drinking, even in small amounts, affects women differently than men. And heavy drinking, in some ways, is much more risky for women than it is for men as we are more quickly affected by alcohol and much more vulnerable to the effects of overindulging. Keeping up with the boys is not a badge of honour – it is dangerous. The attached PDF put together by the Commonwealth Government is well worth reading:  womenshealth.pdf

I am concerned too by by the emotional damage our girls are doing to themselves – one in five confess to doing something they regret when drunk. 

The reality is that young girls are also at risk of sexual assault and violence when they are drunk and vulnerable. Let me be very clear here – I am NOT BLAMING THE VICTIMS. It is NEVER their fault. All I am saying is that being drunk does make you less able to think clearly and may make you a target if some vile predator is lurking…and of course the predator may well be a trusted friend of someone within the home. That is not fair, it is not right, it is unjust – but it is also reality. If girls are going to drink, they need to at the very least ensure they stay together and watch out for each other.

Blaming “Gossip Girl” and the media would be all too easy. I am more concerned by the prevalence of unsupervised teen partying.  Teens focus on the here and now, not the prospects down the road. A good lecture and then sending them off into the night won’t cut it. God knows I would glaze over when my mother talked about damage to my liver – I was 16 and invincible!

Do discuss the risks. But also be practical – know where your kids are, discuss whether or not alcohol will be present and how you both feel about this, know what time they’ll be home and how they will get home, and if the party is at your place – actively supervise.

Finally – consider cutting back on the chardonnay. It is unrealistic to expect your daughter to listen to you tell her that she doesn’t need to drink to have fun if every time visitors come around you drink excessively.  

Image from Gossip Girl – Blair and her Mother at Xmas:

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I stopped drinking completely over two years ago. I knew I was a born binger and wanted to hang up the wine glass before the kids got old enough to notice Mummy boozing on.

Sorry Feministing but it ain’t pretty and we should know better.    

P.S Talk about timely – a Government report widely published in the media on the 18th declares teen drinking is reaching epidemic proportions with children as young as 10 in rehabilitation for alcholism. The Sun Herald published a very interesting article blaming parents on the 19th: Parent’s Branded Gutless Over Teenage Boozers.

  

Published inMediaParentsUnderage Drinking

8 Comments

  1. Danni, this is a perfect article to begin recognition that our kids are out of control regarding drinking. So far five of my daughters 7 children have had some kind of issue with drinking too much. Each time we have stepped up to the plate and discussed that they should not drink and why. We’ve made progress however, there is a long way to go yet, and information like yours above it helpful.

    It brings home this is all our problem. If we could only make the celebrities understand what they do has long term affects on our kids. Perhaps they would try to be better behaved. (is this wishful thinking)

    I hope continuing to show these kids loosing control and using bad judgment when drinking are only two consequences which can change your life if you drink.

    I’d love to have you authorize us to post this article on grammology this week. It’s very important to our crusade to help our children stop drinking.

    Even Sherry’s wonderful 12 now 13 year old son thinks it’s kool to drink. Like you we won’t give up teaching him otherwise.

    Thank you for being..such a conscientious mom and blogger.
    Dorothy from grammology,
    call your gram
    http://grammology.com

  2. Francesca

    Another thing that really scares me about underage drinking is the fact that some teen drinkers are also drivers. To quote some data released by the RTA this year; “One third of all drink drivers in fatal crashes are aged 17-24 years (despite making up only about one-seventh of all licensed drivers).” and “30 per cent of all fatal drink drive crashes occur between 9 pm and 3 am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.” With the party season in full swing lets look after eachother and do our best to keep safe and have fun!

    For some more information on keeping safe during the party season check out one of the links provided by the RTA:
    http://www.youthsafe.org
    Additional to that try:
    http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/hubpages/hub_youngdrivers.html

  3. Jane Higgins

    A young friend of mine (17 years old and a P plater) recently got caught drink driving!! Her parents are away at the moment and she thought she would have 2 drinks and then water – “I’ll have no booze in my body when I leave” WRONG! She will now loose her licence and have to take public transport everywhere. This mistake will also impact on her future Uni courses and her job. She knew the risks and she ran them – now I know, she wishes she hadn’t! This time her actions really only impacted her but what if she had hurt someone or herself – she would never forgive herself.
    We must encourage our young to look after themselves in mind, body and spirit – to honor themselves in all that they do.

  4. katiemcneill

    The other day my friend and i were talking about how in high school we always had Designated Drivers (DD’s) to every party we went to, but how when we came to college that all changed. we couldn’t remember the last time we had a DD– our rule was just whoever seemed the most able to drive, drove home. Reading this showed just how stupid we really are, and that drinking really does affect us more than we think. We are small girls, and even though it doesn’t seem like we’re drinking alot or doing any damage to ourselves, we really are. I especially agree with the part that says 1 in 5 girls has done something they regret when drunk.” There have been so many times when my friends and I have looked back on our nights and regretted numerous things that we did. My friends and I never want to hurt someone because of our actions when we drink, but I’m afraid that if we don’t cut back on the drinking, something bad could actually happen to us.

  5. jocelyn

    I also think that drinking is becoming a problem in underage teens and also with young adults. Me being a young adult I know that most often teens feel stressed, college students especially, and want to go out and drink to get away from it all. I think all this is fine, but teens should set limits and abide by them so they will not drink to much and begin binging. I also agree that no one should ever drink and drive. If you are going to drink at least be responsible with it. You will not only ruin your life but also could ruin another.

  6. Jocelyn Brown

    I agree that binge drinking is a growing problem among teens. I do think, however, that any teen or young adult who is going to drink should drink responsibly regardless if you are 21 or younger (even though you should not drink illegally). Because I am a college student I am accustomed to seeing other students drinking to get drunk and then feel they are able to drive. If you are going to drink you should always have someone present that will be a designated driver or call a cab because you are not only endangering yourself but others as well.

    I also think that when you drink you should have limits and abide by them no matter what. You should not have to drink to get drunk all the time. Whatever happened to just going to hang out with a few friends, get a drink, and go home??

  7. Thank you for joining in the conversation here Jocelyn! The legal age for drinking in Australia is 18 rather than 21. I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this – do you think this would make much difference? Are 21 year olds more able to make sensible decisions on drinking than 18 year olds?

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