Men believed that a drinking woman was more likely than a sober woman to engage in illicit sex; they feared the sexuality of sober women, and the fears increased with each cup of wine or jug of beer. Nonetheless, women had their cups and their jugs. Some historians have failed to recognise the strong connection between drink and sexual activity in traditional Europe and have as a consequence attributed certain phenomena, such as the association between drinking establishments and prostitution, to other developments. (Martin, 2001, p. 136).
There are some other important gender-related distinctions found in the historical record as well. For example, historians have maintained that the beliefs regarding alcohol use were gender-specific, with men supposedly being less susceptible to the erotic effects of drink than their female counterparts. "True, misogyny or at least fear of female sexuality inspired some of the authors who condemned drinking women, but misogyny and the fear of female sexuality also led some authors to warn men to observe moderation in drink and thereby to preserve their chastity.... Men also feared insubordinate women and their tendency to become disorderly. As in sex, so in disorder, men believed that alcohol increased these tendencies" (Martin, 2001, p. 136).
In 1996, a study was conducted by members from European Union (EU) countries of female and male drinking patterns, and their acute and chronic consequences, for nine European countries (Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain (Scotland), Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic); the researchers investigated whether European women's and men's drinking patterns were becoming more similar following the reasoning of the "convergence" hypothesis. According to Wilsnack and Wilsnack, the researchers determined that any such convergence has been small, inconsistent, and statistically uncertain in the majority of these European countries, with the sole exception of Finland (where until recently women were exceptionally likely to be abstainers or very infrequent drinkers). "In none of the European countries studied did women's drinking frequencies or quantities exceed those of men" (Bloomfield et al., 2001 cited in Wilsnack & Wilsnack, 2003).
The EU researchers also studied the extent to which recent shifts in women's roles, especially increased education and additional compensated employment outside the home, had resulted in increased drinking by women following the "emancipation" hypothesis. The results of this component of the study suggested that women with higher levels of education were more likely to drink at least occasionally (i.e., not to abstain completely) (Allamani et al., 2000 cited in Wilsnack & Wilsnack, 2003); however, a more rigorous analysis determined that paid employment, in isolation of consideration of other factors such as the roles such as marriage and parenthood, did not consistently increase the chance that women would drink heavily (defined as 12 or more drinks per week) (Wilsnack & Wilsnack, 2003).
The EU study also addressed the question of how survey measures of drinking behavior could be made more gender-sensitive. The investigators concluded that oversimplified questions (e.g., questions that are not beverage-specific, do not specify drink sizes, and do not ask about atypical drinking occasions) should not be used in such investigations because they tend to underestimate female drinking more than male drinking, resulting gin overestimation of gender differences; the researchers concluded that the evaluation of cultural effects on the reliability and validity of drinking measures required additional research (Wilsnack & Wilsnack, 2003).
Interventions and Initiatives Targeted at Reducing Alcohol Abuse among Younger Drinkers.
Unfortunately, adolescents and young adults who may be experiencing problems with their alcohol consumption are frequently unwilling to discuss their substance use with clinical professionals (Bukstein, Clark, Cornelius, Delbridge, Donovan, & Kelly, 2003). Furthermore, alcohol abuse and full-blown alcoholism remain conditions better described in the literature than they are understood. Despite the paucity of available "cures" for alcohol abuse, though, there are some solid steps that can be taken by community leaders, educators, law enforcement officials and policymaker at all levels to help reduce the incidence of overindulgence by young drinkers. For example, owners and managers of establishments that serve alcoholic beverages can implement policies that instruct staff members on how best to prevent younger patrons from becoming intoxicated and can refuse sales to obviously intoxicated customers; these same steps can be used to help prevent illegal alcohol sales to underage students (Toomey & Wagenaar, 2002). The results of a recent study determined that fully 79% of establishments that serve alcohol will continue to serve it to patrons who appear obviously intoxicated in spite of laws that prohibit such practices; some examples of policies that management can implement are serving alcohol in standard sizes, limiting sales of pitchers of alcohol, cutting off service of alcohol to intoxicated patrons, promoting alcohol-free drinks and food and eliminating last call announcements (Toomey & Wagenaar, 2002). While some of the existing server training programs have resulted in interventions such as offering food and alcohol-free beverages, training in isolation from other elements has resulted in reduced sales of alcoholic beverages to intoxicated individuals to date (Toomey & Wagenaar, 2002).
An alternative that has been shown to be more effective has been to reduce the overall availability of alcohol by restricting the flow of alcohol at parties and other events on and off campus. "Many policies for preventing underage access to alcohol at parties can also be used to decrease the amount of drinking among older students. Overlapping community policies include banning beer kegs and prohibiting home deliveries of large quantities of alcohol" (Toomey & Wagenaar, p. 194). Overlapping policies for campus events include limiting the quantity of alcohol per person and monitoring or serving alcohol rather than allowing self-service. At one fraternity party, Geller and Kalsher (1990) found that attendees who obtained beer through self-service consumed more beer than those who got alcohol from a bartender. Event and party planners could also be required to serve food and offer a large selection of alcohol-free beverages. Another strategy is to serve low-alcohol content beverages. Geller et al. (1991) found that students attending a fraternity party where only low-alcohol content drinks were served consumed the same number of drinks but had a lower blood alcohol concentration (BAC) than did students at parties where regular alcohol content beer and mixed drinks were served.
Current and Future Trends.
While many observers might believe that people in the United Kingdom are drinking more alcohol than ever before, the fact remains that average alcohol use in the U.K. has declined from the late 17th seventeenth century. At that time, English excise records indicated a daily consumption of about one pint per person; however, this estimate might understate the consumption of ale and beer by 50% (Martin, 2001). "To help put these figures in context, in 1995 the annual per capita consumption of wine in France was 63.5 liters and in Italy 60.4; the daily per capita consumption of beer in the United Kingdom was not quite a half pint (102.7 liters per person per year)" (Martin, 2001, p. 30). There are also some commonalities in alcohol use among young people in both the United States and Canada; alcohol use decreased between the late 1980s to the mid 1990s in these countries but during the late 1990s alcohol use stabilized among U.S. adolescents, while it increased among students in Ontario, Canada (Effendi, Hill & White, 2003). Alcohol use increased between the late 1980s and mid 1990s among younger students in the United Kingdom, then decreased again in the late 1990s to levels comparable to those at the turn of the 20th century (Boreham & Shaw, 2001).
Nevertheless, the problems associated with alcohol use and abuse have not changed during the intervening centuries, but they have been more fully investigated and are better understood today. For example, in their essay, "Environmental Policies to Reduce College Drinking: Options and Research Findings," Toomey and Wagenaar (2002) report that "Concern over drinking practices among college students has grown recently, in part because of well-publicized, alcohol-related tragedies that have occurred on campuses in the last few years" (p. 193). As a result of this publicity, many observers have asked, "What has happened to our college campuses? Why are we seeing so many alcohol-related deaths?" (Toomey & Wagenaar, p. 194). In fact, the primary shifts in drinking patterns today may not be related to actual drinking levels or patterns among college students but rather modern society's increasing recognition of the role alcohol plays in many problems, both on campus and off. "Alcohol has been an integral part of many campuses for years -- playing a role in campus celebrations, social functions and academic activities," the authors report. "Until recently, however, we had not quantified the contribution of alcohol to dropout rates, assaults, property damage and deaths and injuries occurring on and around campus. Colleges and universities are now struggling to identify effective strategies to address college drinking in an attempt to reduce alcohol-related problems among this population" (Toomey & Wagenaar, p. 194). This goal is exceedingly important given that heavy consumption of alcohol represents a major problem for the…