is it beer goggles?

beer goggles image via Flickr user A_of_DooM.
"beer goggles" image via Flickr user A_of_DooM.

I just read a post from Salon’s Broadsheet about a UK poll that found most respondents were having most of their sex while under the influence of alcohol, and the respondents said they prefer it that way.  Broadsheet blogger Mary Elizabeth Williams mentions that a writer for the Independent suggested these women prefer sex the influence (SWI?) because of poor body image, and Williams also notes that we should consider the poll’s source, a feminine hygiene company.  While I’d be inclined to agree that the type of women who find crotchular deodorants necessary for purchase may also have a tendency toward low self esteem in other areas, I sort of wonder if there isn’t another explanation.

At least in my observations of fellow young women, alcohol isn’t just a form of liquid courage to give us the confidence to get naked and down to business.  It’s also a liquid excuse.  Many young women pretend to be drunker than they really are as an excuse for doing things they wanted to do anyway.  I’ve seen friends act completely wasted after one beer, because they seem to think drunk girls can get away with behavior “good girls” can’t.  If you can say “but I was soooooo drunk,” you can excuse hooking up with a guy your friends (or you, by the light of day) disapprove of.  In a society where good girls are supposed to say no to sex, alcohol becomes a handy scapegoat for our behavior.

I’m not saying I approve of excusing behavior by way of alcohol, first, because I think that we should be allowed to feel confident in our sexual choices, and to own them as proudly as we would stone cold sober, but second, because I’m wary of the level of consent anyone who is legally intoxicated can give.  In many states, someone who is legally intoxicated cannot legally consent to sex, and I think men AND women should try to avoid having sex with drunk people to avoid thorny issues of consent-confusion.

Williams writes:

Lots of women drink. Lots of women have sex. Does it automatically follow that women need to drink to have sex? And is imbibing before bed the mark of a self-loather “looking for a boost in self-esteem when it comes to bedroom antics,” as Lakeland says, or simply an uninhibited sensualist?

I’d add that some of them are simply looking for an excuse for “bad girl” behavior. And either way, though I’m a fan of both moderate drinking AND sex, I’d encourage people who mix sex and drinking to make sure their partner is still capable of clear and enthusiastic consent.

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