Men and women have different drinking habits

Carrie Circosta

Drinking makes a party a lot more fun.

Someone spent money on alcohol, and it would be impolite to refuse.

It’s sort of expected.

These are just a few of the reasons why people drink, said Kay Clark, a writer for Education, Training and Research Associates, in “Drinking – attitudes and actions,” a pamphlet distributed by the Office of Health Promotions.

But there is a lesser known reason why students drink, and it has to do with gender.

“The key is that there are different drinking cultures for male and female students,” said Rebecca Caldwell, a research associate with the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, in a March Inside Higher Ed article. She is part of a group that studies how gender considerations are used in alcohol-education programs.

In the article “Gender and Booze,” she discusses some differences between males and females when it comes to drinking. Some differences include what males and females consume, where they get sick, whether they get help and what being drunk enables them to do.

In the article she says males are more likely to drink beer and women tend to drink liquor. Guys don’t mind passing out outdoors, while women try to find a room or bathroom. Male friends are more likely to assume everything will be fine, or that getting help would embarrass their drunk friend. Women are more likely to intervene.

The pressure to fulfill these stereotypes comes from advertising.

“You see the alcohol industry, and I think they are trying to sell a perception,” said Scott Dotterer, the coordinator of Health Promotions at Kent State. “When you see (the commercial), there’s every positive thing under the sun, and it’s related to alcohol. You hear very little about the alcoholic beverage.”

According to the article “Gender Messages in Alcohol Advertising,” the average person sees about 20,000 commercials a year, and nearly 2,000 of those are for alcoholic beverages. And in those commercials, there are a number of stereotypes alcohol ads play for males and females.

In the world of booze, women are sexual prizes, according to “Gender and Alcohol.” Women also are more likely to sleep with someone they don’t know well – something they wouldn’t do when sober.

“Fifteen percent of students had sex while intoxicated when they normally wouldn’t,” Dotterer said. He said this has increased since 2003, when it was at 11 percent.

There is a program at Kent State that is trying to help students avoid unwanted intercourse, or to help those who have been victims.

Allison Bruce is the adviser for the National Organization of Men’s Outreach for Rape Education program that helps men educate their male peers in helping women who have been raped and how to prevent it from happening.

The program became an official chapter at Kent State last fall and consists of two to 10 presenters and a video that delivers a powerful message.

“We’re dispelling myths that a girl gets drunk and asks for it,” Bruce said. “No one asks to be raped.”

But no matter what gender, Dotterer said both parties feel the pressure to drink.

“I have heard from male and female students it’s about feeling more comfortable in a crowd,” Dotterer said. “Alcohol is a social lubricant for things they normally can’t do. Instead of improving communication skills, they’re relying on alcohol.”

Contact features correspondent Carrie Circosta at [email protected].