Do they drink more than girls from other countries? It certainly appears so to me. One of the things I particularly noticed when I moved back to the UK from Russia was how many drunk girls you saw. Roving bands of them, wandering like howling feral dogs in the street, clutching their bottles of Chardonnay and terrorizing single males.
I remember in my first week back, walking up Ken Church Street one night, and this drunk women in her late 30s wandered up behind me and slurred something like ‘Fancy a fuck?’ I was kind of horrified, and to my amazement actually said no.
This happened to me again last night. I was getting a kebab on the Archway Road, and a woman came in, stood right next to me and looked at me with squiffy eyes, and breathed ‘I want you to take me somewhere’. Needless to say, I got my lamb doner and retreated to the bus stop.
This shocking event occured to me as I was on my way home from a drinks party, which had been full of, yes, drunk English girls. I was talking to one girl, a lovely girl who had been a scholar at Cambridge and had just won a scholarship to do a post-grad in London. She was pretty, charming and smart. Yet she got progressively more pissed as the evening went on. She told me she was a bit worried about her drinking, and that she often got very paranoid hangovers.
‘But I don’t want to drink less’, she told me. ‘I like drinking because I’m a feminist, you know? If men do it, why shouldn’t we?’ This seemed like a crazy theory to me!
But maybe it is one of the reasons that English girls do get so drunk – because they enjoy more economic equality with men than women in many other societies. That’s to say, in other countries, women often earn less than men, so they are more dependent on men for financial support. That means their status depends on how men perceive them, so they put all their effort into appearing demure and attractive, which means not getting too drunk. Often, girls in other countries hardly drink at all.
In the UK, women are often just as big earners as men these days. They are of independent means. That means they rely less on the judgement of men for their status, so they can afford to worry less about conforming to male expectations of their behaviour. Perhaps they now feel they can go and get drunk with their girlfriends, because they’re earning the cash, just like men, and deserve the opportunity to celebrate their cash-earning, just like men. So perhaps getting incredibly drunk does seem like a victory for feminism.
A new advert from the Drug and Alcohol Service for London plays on this ‘why shouldn’t we drink like men’ mentality among English girls. It shows a drunk, mannish-looking woman, with the caption, ‘If you drink like a man, you might end up looking like one’.
I guess you can blame the media as well, for spreading the idea that, in order to be a really fun-loving fast-living modern gal, you need to drink yourself into a stupor. We see this idea in films like Bridget Jones or Sex in the City, and in the media celebration of figures like Lily Allen or Amy Winehouse.
Lily Allen, for example, who regularly drinks herself unconscious, was recently given an award by Glamour magazine for ‘Special Woman of the Year’. Special how?! Obviously, it was just a way for Glamour to get the paparazzi to their awards event, where, needless to say, Lily Allen got drunk, swore at the audience when collecting her award, then fell unconscious and had to be carried to a taxi. Glamour indeed.