The reaction to the CDC’s recent recommendations regarding alcohol consumption by young women is so thoroughly absurd I can only shake my head in befuddlement. Maybe I’m hardened – or sensitized, depending on the vantage point – by my experience of infertility and loss, but these sophomoric diatribes by would-be feminists seem to veer into the terrain of petulant toddlers resistant to accepting certain basic realities. Is this what we are becoming: a culture in which sniveling and complacency have replaced a spirit of personal accountability and initiative that we once celebrated and strove for as an ideal at the foundation of our national identity? Here, in my space, I want to assert that there exists a quieter subset of women still grounded in common sense who have not been swept up in the same wave of hysterical outrage that spawned a multitude of faux-intellectual debates about red coffee cups in December.
Fact: Alcohol is bad for growing fetuses.
Why on earth is this a point of contention? It is simply true. The CDC, an agency charged with protecting our collective health, is responding to a populace that is conceiving half of all pregnancies by accident, and since gestation is not a gender-neutral sport, that really leaves women (yes, women) with three choices: (1) use contraception, (2) curb your drinking, or (3) rant and pout to avoid accepting any adult responsibility for the welfare of a potential unborn child. It seems that many women of child-bearing age have opted for the latter, and loudly, given national platforms in major media outlets.
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!’
Um, yes, love, if you have sex, don’t use protection, are of reproductive age, and binge-drink, you may be putting a child’s health at risk, which actually is a pretty “important fact.” And, yes, we do have an adult responsibility to “Think of the children” by accepting some culpability for what we do with our bodies. Does that cramp your style? Then use a fucking condom and have at it.
The second non sequitur somehow derived from the CDC’s infographic stems from the list of risks along the right-hand side, which has been bandied about and editorialized to mean that the government is blaming women for being victimized by rapists and other violent offenders. (See item one under “For any woman.”)
Fact: Alcohol impairs judgement.
Maybe in their naive idealism these young women feel entitled – entitled being the operative word – to stomp their feet and hold their breath over the unfortunate truth that the world can be a very ugly place such that it behooves us to remain alert and thoughtful as we make moment-to-moment decisions. Our parents cautioned us just the same because, like the CDC, they were concerned with our safety and welfare. We are all more vulnerable when we are drunk, and we are more likely to act impulsively and engage in the kinds of high-risk behaviors that lead to many of the life-altering consequences on this list. Obviously drinking is not
…a type of witchery that can whip babies into existence out of nowhere.
These kinds of rhetorical antics are childish and counterproductive. Call it the ‘Nanny State,’ sure, but recognize that the government is also responding to statistical data that implies significant and oft-preventable human suffering. Should we also move toward the kind of greater social enlightenment and child-rearing that will reduce incidents of violence against women? Obviously. Should we allocate resources to provide education, STD screening, and affordable contraception to women of limited means? A resounding yes. However, it is possible to pursue multiple avenues toward a single goal simultaneously. Maybe we could put our big-girl-panties on and work toward a more adult appreciation for the subtlety and complexity required to solve big problems by taking the CDC’s statement at face-value.