Should women be allowed to drink?

In an age of social liberalism, you can expect to see many things become legal.  One thing that hasn't become legal and that almost nobody has considered legalizing is childhood drinking.  And the reason nobody has really suggested it is because each and every one of us knows that children are idiots.

You never really know what children will do when they're sober, and so you're almost afraid to ask what they'll do when they're drinking.  The majority of us can barely keep our children from licking vacuum cleaners and falling off tall objects, and we have a sneaking suspicion that were we to give them the right to wander into bars with their most responsible of friends, we might be cleaning vomit off the walls and watching them ride their tricycles into trees.  And this universal prejudice supplies the primary ammunition against childhood drinking – that they are much more likely to do terrible things than their parents.  Which is why we distinguish them from adults in the first place.

An adult is very different; give him a bottle and watch him go wild, and instead of grabbing him by the ear and dragging him to his parents, you tie up his hands and you throw him in jail.  In fact, the grown man is distinguished by the fact that even in his irresponsibility he's held responsible – that, whether he does something stupid while sober or while sloshed, he can always be called to account for his behavior.  If he gets into a car while he's trashed, we take away his license.  If he goes to his job while he's wasted, we send him to the soup kitchen.  The one thing we've always said to the man who violates our happiness at happy hour is that he shouldn't be drinking at all, which is why we have a special term for the man whom nobody wants to see drinking.  We call him an alcoholic, and we send him to meetings.

And this brings us to Budweiser.  Now, anyone who really enjoys beer knows that Budweiser is a terrible beer, but what it shares with all the other beers is that it's very good at helping us do terrible things.  This is why Budweiser, instead of going the insincerely dignified route of all the other liquor manufacturers and telling us to drink responsibly, is giving us what we really wanted all along by telling us to drink a little more youthfully – to turn that temperate no into a resounding and belligerent yes.  A yes that was widely interpreted as rape.

Of course, they could have meant yes to anything.  It may be that by yes they really meant yes to sex instead of yes to dancing and singing and skinny-dipping.  But substantially more mentionable than any generality of activity, we find in Budweiser's commercial a generality of gender.  And we note that if Budweiser said yes, everyone assumes they said yes to anything for Tricia – but that Budweiser could also very easily have meant yes to anything for Tommy. 

And this is the triumph of men over feminism: that nobody ever worries about a drunken man taking off his pants for an ugly coworker.  You might even say that after all the talk about equality in intelligence and responsibility and moral fortitude, Budweiser proved the man is the only one left standing, even if he is reeling.  Nearly everyone who's played the field has made some horrible mistake; nearly every drunk has hurt someone by drinking and letting that person into his or her bed in a moment of poor judgment.  But the man is the one who's capable of meaning yes when he says it; women claim we can never trust a woman to make a decent wasted decision, even if she says yes with all her drunken heart.  Yesterday, consent was consent, and a choice was a choice, and a yes meant a yes.  Today a woman's consent is questionable, because we have questioned whether women are even capable of giving it.  Which is why we should reconsider whether women should be drinking.

Now, I don't believe that women are incapable of intelligent thoughts, but they have implicitly confessed the one thing they never should have confessed if they wanted us to take feminism seriously.  And that is that there is an obvious and almost unmentionable difference between what a woman wants to think about herself and the way she actually does think about herself.  This is because, on the one hand, she wants to think of herself as equal or superior to her manly counterpart; on the other hand, she knows she needs special protection because she feels in certain respects inferior.  The former results from her pride, and the latter results from her instincts and common observations.

Generally speaking, all people are worthy of our protection, but women know they are especially worthy of it.  Endowed with traits designed for reception, the female's characteristics are designed to attract: her slighter frame, her softer voice, her more voluptuous curves all coalesce into a picture of something capable of responsibility, but a responsibility of a different nature.  Unlike the man, whose comparison with women yields that he should be the aggressor – the depositor, the defender, the adventurer, and the hard laborer – we find her better disposed to welcoming, to nurturing, to the manipulation of feelings, and we call her attractive because her powers lie in attraction.  And someone who is physically less sturdy and at the same time stunningly attractive brings us to a single conclusion: that she must be defended, like a precious resource and a household goddess, against unwanted impositions.  Every blow to her resistance is an affront to her happiness, and despite all the talking about woman's intelligence, we find that women really cherish something more than their brains: their necessary supremacy in all matters regarding sexual selection.

So if someone were to ask me if women are stupid, I would say no – and I would say no because whatever insane things women have been telling us, they are smart enough to have their booze and drink it, too.  They've bullied men into admitting false things, while simultaneously hanging on to the true, and they're intelligent because they know that men are stupid – and that we're most stupid of all when we're dealing with women.  The question, then, is whether men – who for better or for worse have in comparison been fans of logical consistency – are going to begin asking uncomfortable questions.  The first question will be whether women should be drinking without parental supervision if rape charges are ruinous, and women are incapable of controlling who gets into their pants.  The second will be whether a person incapable of managing the most important aspects of her personal life will be capable of voting in the national interest.

But there is another way of going about this whole mess.  We could acknowledge that women are adults and human beings, and that they should know what every sensible man from the Bronze Age Jew to Benjamin Franklin could tell you: that drunkenness is pernicious not only to your mental, physical, and spiritual health, but also to your judgment.  And we add that if drunkenness is pernicious to men, the differences between the sexes make it particularly pernicious to women, and that because we love women, we encourage them to enjoy drinking – but strongly advise them to keep from drunkenness.

Jeremy Egerer is the editor of the troublesome philosophical website known as Letters to Hannah, and he welcomes followers on Twitter and Facebook.