Alcohol and Women: The Societal Double Standards

For some people, a drink can have a calming effect during stressful times. I am one of those people. Some days when I’m stressed out, I head to the bar and grab a bottle of alcohol. On other days, I drink to celebrate wins or just life.

While a young woman drinking may seem normal in 2019, in many of African communities it is still frowned upon.  The cultural expectation is that we embrace a certain constructed femininity in all aspects of our lives and this extends to alcohol. So, anything stronger than a malt drink gets us labeled as promiscuous, a quick bible class on the virtues of a moral woman or a lesson on how we can destroy our reproductive system with alcohol. On the other hand, the sight of men drinking is manly and normal.

sparkling wine purred on glass cup
Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Although I acknowledge that drinking is bad for everyone, that’s not the point of this post. The point is that more often than not, the African society has no problem with men drinking but gets judgmental and furious when women consume alcohol. This non-acceptance of women drinking shows our double standards for alcohol and this act is sexist.

For those that are quick to mention social consequences as reasons why women shouldn’t drink, permit me to state that we realize the hazards of drinking and just like men, we’re old enough to make our own drinking choices whether they are healthy or otherwise.

That being said, women are largely social low-risk drinkers so the odds of us ‘taking off our clothes’ after drinking is low.   Personally, I have one bottle in say two weeks and that’s low-risk” drinking according to the National Institute on  Alcohol Abuse  and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

close-up photography of chilled wine glass with clear beverage and slice of lemon
Photo by  Jez Timms  on  Unsplash

While this ‘rant’ is focused on society’s double standards when it comes to women and drinking, I don’t support the abuse of alcohol.   So, ladies know your limits and drink responsibly. To keep an eye on your consumption levels, the National Institute on  Alcohol Abuse  and Alcoholism (NIAAA) divides drinking into two categories:

  • Low-risk drinking-no more than three drinks in a single day and no more than seven drinks in a week for a woman.
  • At-risk or heavy drinking-drinking more than either the single-day limit or the weekly limit.

In conclusion, women drinking isn’t a ‘man wannabe’ behavior. It is just us living life on our terms. So, the next time you want to judge a woman for hanging out at the bar, ask yourself if you’re mad at the act of drinking or the fact that a woman has the audacity to make a choice.
Ever got judged for drinking? What was your reaction?



Adebisi Adewusi is a writer and photographer

1 Comment
  1. Yes!! I have written about this but I experience it more just as an evangelical and not a woman! I totally see it tying into women because Women’s Movements (in the States) were tied to women drinking and that paired with promiscuity. I always feel a tinge of guilt drinking and recognize a huge need to have a better view on alcohol and how to drink appropriately as well as enjoy it! Loved hearing your thoughts.

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