Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And What About The Alcoholic Daddies?

This article is typical of a whole genre of something which actually affects men at least as much as it affects women or more, but which is written to go all oh-my-god-mummies-are-bad. I have seen similar reporting on traffic accidents and women as well as general drinking and women. It's important to note that we don't get articles titled:

The secret lives of male alcoholics

Instead, we get either general articles about all alcoholics or specific articles about female alcoholics.

I must admit that this example of that genre seems to self-doubt itself from almost the beginning:

The numbers are troubling: An estimated 17.6 million adults in the USA are either alcoholics or have alcohol problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. By some estimates, one-third of alcoholics are women.

There you have it: By some estimates, one-third of alcoholics are women. What does that tell us about the other two-thirds?

Oh! I get it from the next quote: ONLY women hide their alcoholism and we know this because we get examples:

Yet if you were to ask a woman's friends and family if she has a drinking problem, they might very well say no.

When Paula Tokar, 26, told her friends she was getting sober and wouldn't be partying with them anymore, "They said, 'You seemed fine to us,' " says Tokar, now two years sober and living in Marshfield, Mass. That's because she'd worked hard not to hide her alcohol abuse. "I was doing the things many women do, hiding drinks around the house, hiding vodka behind the frozen veggie burgers."

This is such a crappy approach to a serious question. Men who are alcoholics also hide bottles, you know.

So why would these women (about one-third of all alcoholics) deserve extra attention, over and above the general attention alcoholics get from health topics writers?

I bet you can guess the answer: It has to do with mothers and their children, though once again, the article itself appears to doubt this odd argument:

Good mothers don't drink, and everyone says Schuler was a good mom, so she couldn't possibly have been an alcoholic. That's how the thinking goes, says Eleanor Schoenberger, 40. "Especially when it comes to mothers, there's such a strong inclination to believe 'she just wouldn't do anything like that,' " says Schoenberger, of Hanover, Mass. She writes a blog about being a mom in recovery and making jewelry at One Crafty Mother.

Schoenberger wonders if the national conversation would be the same if Schuler's husband, Daniel, had been behind the wheel when the accident happened. "The question would be, 'Where was the mother?' " she says. "A father who drinks is just as responsible for the welfare of his children, but the stigma isn't there."

Schwarzer, whose friend went into treatment and no longer drinks, says she won't be afraid of speaking up again. "Is politeness worth some kid's life? You convince yourself that it's just not that bad, but when a child's life is at stake, none of us should ever be that polite."

But do good fathers drink? ARE there any alcoholic fathers, living in the same household as their children and possibly driving them to places while inebriated? From the framework used here that doesn't seem possible! Either all men who have a drinking problem are single men who NEVER hit anyone else's child while driving drunk or childen are totally and completely the responsibility of women, not of men. And that means men's alcoholism isn't as worrying as the alcoholism in women.

I hasten to add that alcoholism is a serious problem and affects not only the sufferers but others around them. But to essentially argue that we should worry about women's alcoholism ONLY when those women are the mothers of small children gives women the same value as any other instrument people daily use. Why not worry about female alcoholism because we care about those women and the quality of their lives?