Recently, Dawn French lamented the behaviour of young women getting ‘helplessly drunk [and]having reckless sex with all and sundry.’ Whilst lads and their rowdy behaviour may be celebrated, their female equivalents have always been criticised. Indeed, it seems that anytime women get drunk – such as New Year’s Eve or Ladies Day – it is only a matter of time before the Daily Mail released an article condemning them, accompanied by invasive photos meant to shame. But is it the figure of the ladette that is really at fault here, or are they simply women enjoying themselves?
It is not surprising that people still find female promiscuity shocking. Dawn French remarked that one would assume women spending time on their appearance would be doing so in order to ‘meet someone who would love, cherish and respect them.’ It’s always been assumed that women’s main priorities should be to settle down and whilst this is something many women want, women’s futures and stabilities are no longer dependent on their marital status, making changed attitudes to sex and relationships inevitable. Men have been allowed sexual freedom for centuries, and whilst Dawn French is arguing that women shouldn’t desire to emulate that behaviour, women embracing sexual pleasure is something that should only be encouraged. Relationships are not the be-all and end-all of a woman’s life and whilst some women feel empowered by being in them, no one has the right to shame anyone else for the choices they make about their body simply because they wouldn’t feel comfortable making the same ones.
Furthermore, ladette behaviour is fundamentally a way of women having fun. The world seems a bit more miserable each day and every time social media is opened, it seems to bring more bad news. Is it so shocking that women simply want to let loose? Not every person has to enjoy getting drunk or behaving in a rowdy and promiscuous manner, but those who do, and who manage to do so without hurting others, are simply letting off steam. When our generation can look forward to increased housing prices, decreased chances of getting into decent jobs and unstable political situations, is it really fair for us to also be judged for finding outlets to express ourselves and be silly and fun and young amongst all of that?
When critics see drunk women, they see people making an embarrassment of themselves. For the most part, when I see drunk women, I see something different. The little details; drunk girls building each other up in bathrooms, helping each other get ready and looking after each other if someone does happen to get too drunk. Women drinking, occasionally too much, is not primarily about the alcohol itself, nor about pulling, but about bonding with those around them.
Feminism and female suffrage may not be built on the concept of women clubbing, vomiting and going home with strangers – the female suffrage movement had other things to concern themselves with– but doesn’t it say something about how far we’ve come that women now are able to? Sure, they may face derogatory comments from judgmental celebrities and disapproving Daily Mail articles, but hopefully, these are becoming a dying breed.
Women being unafraid to behave in ways that men always have, and doing so in ways that allow them to bond with other women, can only be a symbol of our liberation rather than a demonstration of its limitations.