According to a few recent studies, adolescent girls are now drinking as much as their male peers, and adolescents in general are being exposed to more and more advertising from the alcohol industry. An editorial in this week’s Canadian Medical Association Journal makes the point that we need to take a more careful look at the effects of advertising and alcohol on minors, and specifically, on adolescent girls.
However, in his editorial, Dr. Ken Flegel, professor at McGill University and Senior Associate Editor of CMAJ has decided that the important angle to take when discussing these studies is to insult the women’s movement and blame rape victims.
Rather than say, “The alcohol industry has been increasing the amount that they target adolescent girls” Flegel opts for the more misogynistic, “The alcoholic beverages industry has used advertising and events promotion to grant a form of equality to young women that perhaps even the women’s movement never intended.”
Not to mention: “The problem with this equality is that alcohol, all drinkable forms of it, is not an equal-opportunity substance.”
In doing this, he manages to take a serious issue and turn it into a sarcastic way of insulting and making fun of feminism.
Much more damaging, however, is Flegel’s reasoning that women (or as he likes to refer to them, “daughters”) are predisposed to certain risks, and should be warned of them on packaging (as we currently have with pregnancy and smoking).
“Female-specific risks are already well known and include violence, unwanted sex and pregnancy.”
So, Flegel would like to slap a big, government-approved “If you drink too much, you might get raped and you can’t say we didn’t warn you” label in order to help women out.
The problem of adolescents (and not just adolescent girls might I add) and alcohol is a serious one. We don’t need kids as young as 13 being exposed to very persuasive ads when there are already so many social pressures that encourage young people to drink. In general, the “adolescents are drinking” and “we banned tobacco ads maybe we should ban liquor ads too” issues are important and these are useful discussions we really should be having in Canadian society.
It’s also not unreasonable to discuss the specific risks that women face when they decide to drink, such as the discovery of the links between alcohol and breast cancer. Studies like these are extremely important, as is discussing what we should do about it.
When someone decides to take those studies and use them as a way to blame the victims of rape in a major, national, peer-reviewed medical journal (and when all of the major news outlets report on his editorial without questioning it) – that’s when we have a problem.