Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

21
The Female Alcoholic

JUDY FRASER *

The mass movement by women to redefine their place in Western civilization has been called the most significant social change to evolve from the sixties, a decade of rapid-fire attacks on status quo so altered now that few can accurately recall it. In relinquishing her centuries-old state of grace for a modern bill of rights, today's woman faces a challenge of uncharted dimensions. The aftertaste of the revolution may be bitter; it should be sweet. For the female alcoholic it may have special meaning.

By loosening the ties that bind her to the traditional wife-mother role and permitting her full self-realization without guilt, society may effectively deal with the frustration, boredom, and loneliness that have long nourished problem drinking among women. By ruling out self-sacrifice as a prerequisite for womanly happiness and encouraging the development of confidence in herself and all her abilities, society may nurture in her the kind of self-image that will not turn upon itself with liquid hate.

At the same time there are those who suggest that women's liberation, which forces woman to perform not only at home but also in the larger world of work, will create alcoholism. By entering the male‐ dominated battleground that has yielded such ironic spoils as heavier alcoholism and early mortality, she may be subject to the pressure to conform to the same code of behavior as her brothers. This is the de-

____________________
*
This article originally appeared in Addictions, Fall '73. It was updated in May, 1976 by Lavada Pinder of the Addiction Research Foundation.

-296-

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