Thursday 11 June 2015

Drinking and Sexism

Day 102 (a long way to go before another milestone....)

Ever since I've become obsessed with reading every newspaper or magazine article I can find about alcohol and alcoholics, I've been aware of a worrying discrepancy between the way we talk about male drinkers and female drinkers.

It appears I'm not the only one to notice, because this was among the discussion topics on Radio 4's Woman's Hour yesterday. The fabulous Lucy Rocca - founder of - was one of the interviewees.

The event that sparked the debate was Kate Moss being escorted off an EasyJet flight (yes, she really was flying EasyJet! Who knew?) for 'having a meltdown' over a lack of sandwiches, and drinking from a bottle of vodka she'd stashed in her hand luggage.

(Do you remember those bouts of self righteous anger that would strike like a red mist when you were drinking? They were, at least in my case, usually due to some imagined 'unfairness', very much like a toddler's strop. Totally out of proportion. See my post on Jeremy Clarkson and alcohol induced rage for more).

Now, despite the fact that fellow passengers have subsequently claimed 'the model's behaviour was not aggressive and crew’s response was disproportionate', Mossy was pilloried in the Daily Mail, and The Sun ran a front page article with the headline "KATE MESS!"

Kate Moss was escorted from her plane by uniformed police. Unlike another famously drunk airplane passenger, Gerard Depardieu, who despite weeing all over the carpet of an aeroplane and delaying the flight for two hours, was not arrested. The press coverage of this incident was all rather jovial. He's a bon viveur! A character! He's French! Who cares if he drinks 5 bottles of wine a day? (yes, you heard me right: FIVE!)

Imagine, for a moment, if a Hollywood actress had decided to pee in the aisle of an aeroplane. She would never work again! She would have gone straight to the Betty Ford Clinic and never come out. Meanwhile, Gerald's career goes from strength to strength.

Tom Ford was interviewed in the Evening Standard yesterday under the headline "If I'd carried on drinking I would have died." The article was hugely respectful, and Tom came across as a creative genius (which he is) successfully battling his demons (which he did).

(Incidentally, Tom Ford blames living in London for aiding and abetting his drink problem. He says "You can very easily consume 10 drinks a day and be considered absolutely normal.... Sometimes I'd say to friends "I think I have a drinking problem," and they'd say "oh, you don't have a drinking problem! Have another drink!")

Do you think for one moment that the story would have looked similar if Victoria Beckham admitted to having a drink problem? No way! Journalists would have fallen over each other to pull her off her pedestal. "Victoria's Perfect Life a Sham!" "Victoria Beckham in Drunken Lush Shame!"

Winston Churchill's habit of starting the day with whisky and water, and drinking constantly until bed time (see Why Ex Drinkers Rock. Part 2 for more) was seen as evidence of his quirky, eccentric genius. If Margaret Thatcher had done the same (apologies if you're now picturing Thatcher in bed) she would have been booted out well before her second term.

And we can't blame the men. In fact women seem to be the first to condemn each other. We revel in the schadenfreude of discovering that our female icons have feet of clay (and livers of yellow fat).

We are particularly hard on women who have children. Now, you and I know that you would have to drink an awful lot to get to the stage where you would let your children suffer one iota from your habit, but the assumption is that we are terrible, neglectful mothers.

It's no wonder that there are so many secret female drinkers out there. Not only are we worried about being pilloried for being weak willed, selfish drunks, but we run a very real risk of having our children taken away.

It was also pointed out on Woman's Hour that if a woman is physically dependant on alcohol and needs a medically supervised detox, there are no longer any mother-and-child units in the UK. She needs to find someone else to look after her children for several weeks or they are taken into care.

We know how difficult it is to fight the wine witch alone. In secret. But, until we can do something about the rampant sexism surrounding drinking, more and more women will fail to get the support they badly need.

Love SM x


  1. You are so right, I had never thought of it before. And I cannot believe that French twit wasn't arrested for urinating on the floor of a plane!

  2. It's sad because we think we've come so far as a gender, and only to discover people still think this way. Great article and Lucy's such a mover & a shaker. Thank God we have her in our corner!

  3. It's sad because we think we've come so far as a gender, and only to discover people still think this way. Great article and Lucy's such a mover & a shaker. Thank God we have her in our corner!

  4. Hear hear, Patti! Love your picture by the way :-)

  5. True. All of it.
    I read an article about how more women are being charge with drunk driving. Suburban, soccer mom women.
    I expect it is because they are hiding their drinking and are often faced with the decision to drive or admit they have been drinking.
    That is a scary thought.

    The stigma of addiction is slowly changing. It can't happen too soon.

  6. SM - love love love your blog. Am reading from the start, so far am up to mid April. I am on day 25 of sobriety and you're hitting so many nails on the head. Wonderful stuff. Please do write a novel as I would love to read it x

    1. Thanks so much nic! Glad you found me! Huge congrats on 25 days - awesome work. Stay in touch xx

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