In her recently released book Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol author Ann Dowsett Johnston speaks openly about her personal relationship with alcohol, as well as the role alcohol plays in our society with respect to women. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Ann speak, where she eloquently highlighted (without the use of PowerPoint I might add… ) the role alcohol advertising has played in appealing to the previously untapped female market through such products as Girls Night Out, Mommy Juice and Mommy’s Time Out. Her information is well-researched, insightful and highly articulate. You may know of Ann through her award-winning Atkinson series entitled Women and Alcohol.
Yesterday morning, after listening to a CBC radio program with David Enright, wherein Ann was interviewed, I gained further insight into Ann’s history. Her strength and courage came through as she candidly shared her personal story. Ann addressed the many faces of alcohol, including our “fuzzy values”. She highlighted our “romancing of alcohol” in the way we celebrate its use and view it as a rite of passage into adulthood, to the “demon addiction” with all its insidious and devastating effects on us physically and emotionally.
She spoke of our need to acknowledge alcohol as a negative force – okay, let’s call it what it is-“an addiction” and that our ability to seek help is even further complicated due to the attached stigma. Ann articulated that she is not a prohibitionist but she did identify the need to be vigilant about our individual relationships with alcohol. Ann conveyed that alcohol can certainly be enjoyed, but there can also be a slippery downside.
In her book, Ann provides an analysis of women’s fight for equality and how alcohol-issues are an undermining force; Ann describes how the environment that girls and women are increasingly exposed to in today’s society can only lead to more problems. She indicates that the time has come for us to collectively challenge politicians, the alcohol industry and society in general to reverse a dangerous trend.