Our view: pandora’s inverse

Women are foolish, irresponsible and incapable of taking care of themselves.

They drink too much, party too much and succumb to sexual desires without thought.

They need your help, and you can help them by logging on to ipartysmarter.com, a Web site set up by the Minnesota Department of Health to help educate young women on the effects of alcohol on their lives.

According to the Web site, women who drink are more likely to be injured, be coerced into doing something they’ll regret and are more vulnerable to rape, pregnancy or contraction of a Sexually Transmitted Disease.

And the Minnesota Department of Health decided the best way to protect women was to design the Smart Women Smart Choices program and entice participants with $50 dollars worth of gift cards.

On the surface, the program seems harmless. The information on the Web site is true: Partying does come with risks, women’s bodies handle alcohol differently than men’s and knowledge is power – if drinkers know their limits, they will be safer.

So what could be wrong with trying to promote women’s safety by helping them control their drinking?

The operative word here is “women.” Everyone parties dangerously; there is no need for a gender breakdown of such a pervasive issue. This follows two common trends.

First, now that women work more, their behaviors are more public and therefore more criticized. This means that when previously only men’s bad behaviors were seen, women appeared to have more self control. Now that women are more visible, their poor decision making comes as a shock, because there is this archaic perception that women naturally behave better.

Second, we need to stop being a society that emphasizes blaming the victim. Yes, a woman’s drinking can put her at risk for sexual assault, but why doesn’t the conversation mention teaching men to control their sexual impulses? A woman who is raped after drinking is as much a victim as a woman who isn’t, and she should not be made to feel responsible for what happened to her.

The scary thing about this is that anything that singles out women for something negative when men are just as guilty, regardless of its good intentions, perpetuates sexism. It makes it that much more difficult for women to be taken seriously.

To “protect” women, we need to remove gender from the equation. Women are perfectly capable of relating information to their experiences if it’s not specifically designated for their gender. Everyone has a chance for hurting themselves when they drink. And everyone occasionally disregards their limits and has too much to drink. That’s part of the unfortunate irresponsibility that comes with alcohol – both genders are guilty.

Women would be “protected” from sexual harm if our society taught boys and men that women’s bodies are not waiting to be conquered and girls and women that what happens to their bodies is their choice alone.

Women would be made “safe” by eliminating sexism, not by gender-targeted scare tactics like the Smart Women Smart Choices program.

We need to educate ourselves as a society, not break things down with the hope of having people understand.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.