Does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention know how pregnancy works? I ask merely for information, after it put out a handy infographic as part of its monthly Vital Signs report. Who knew that drinking alcohol could give “any woman” a sexually transmitted disease? That’s the last time I drink merlot alone in my apartment. I don’t want herpes.
Furthermore, I had no idea that drinking eight beverages a week could result in a baby. I always thought, somehow, that there were other activities involved. But the CDC knows best.
And injuries and violence? Once I drank two beers by myself in a room and stubbed my toe on a table leg, but somehow I do not think this is what the CDC means. But in the interest of science, I am going to go lock myself into a room with a bottle of scotch and see how much I have to drink before the bottle becomes violent and injures me.
Dear CDC, If I am not gravely mistaken, you are missing some steps here.
This report reminds me of the old joke about the boy who watches a commercial and then rushes out to buy tampons. “They said that with one of these I could swim and ride a bicycle, and I can’t do any of those things!”
One of the unexpected costs of being female is that people keep holding you accountable for other people’s behavior. You thought you were just a person, but it turns out that you are a wizard. You control the actions of others by the way you choose to dress and walk and talk and live your life.
It’s not what he said. It’s what you were wearing. It’s not what he did. It’s how much you had to drink. By wearing leggings to school instead of pants, you can throw a whole school into chaos and have to be sent home. Or you could shut down the state of Montana!
You have such tremendous power.
And now, it turns out, you can impregnate yourself by drinking too much.
What CDC was trying to do
I understand that the CDC was trying to do a good thing here: prevent fetal alcohol syndrome. The fact that research suggests you should stop drinking not just when you know you are pregnant but when you start trying to get pregnant is useful information. Nobody is arguing with that.
I am just objecting to that fact that this good insight has been presented in such a way as to become the headline “CDC: Young women should avoid alcohol unless using birth control.”
No alcohol for you, young women! The most important fact about you is not that you are people but that you might potentially contain people one day. After all, pregnancies are often unplanned, so now it’s not just women who are trying to become pregnant but women who aren’t who need to lay off the alcohol, because, “You never know when pregnancy might strike!” and “Think of the children!”
Also, your drinking is a type of witchery that can whip babies into existence out of nowhere.
It’s one thing to say, listen, alcohol lowers inhibitions. Or, “Hey, when you drink too much you lose control of your functions and your judgment diminishes and you can get to the point where you pass out or have difficulty expressing your wishes to people, and that is not a great place to be for lots of reasons.”
But it’s not because you drink that violence happens, or that pregnancy happens, or that STDs happen.
There’s another step here.
Every time someone says that Women Drinking is the risk factor for violence and pregnancy and STDs, not other people who choose to take advantage of them or resort to violence, you pour a little more fuel onto the raging bonfire of This Isn’t On Me, It’s On The Women Who Are Accountable For My Behavior.
But women aren’t that. They’re just people. Not Potential People-Containers. Not wizards. People.
The Washington Post