2020 is here, but the idiocy of 2019 is lingering in the pages of everyone’s favourite think piece rag, The Guardian. The first truly horrific take comes courtesy of feminist columnist Moira Donegan who asks the questions: “What is the price that women pay in enduring sexual violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence, for men’s good time? Is all this female suffering worth it to us for the male privilege to drink? Should men, really, be allowed to drink alcohol?
The answer, for Donegan, is of course, probably not.
Her defence of temperance goes back to the origins of the movement, which in the U.S. resulted in prohibition. This led to the creation of organized crime syndicates, incredible violence, cottage moonshine operations, a methodical black market that had deep roots in many communities, the prevalence of police bribery, and the rise of illicit, illegal clubs.
The Christian temperance movement aimed to bring men away from the sin of alcohol consumption, which had been a scourge in many communities. The Women’s Christian Temperance Movement was involved in advocacy for fair labour laws, prison reform, and obtaining women’s right to vote, as well as temperance. It was a valiant effort at social reforms toward equality. What Donegan is proposing is not a cohesive movement, but a prohibition one-off, where removing the liquor elixir will solve the problem of male violence against women.
She writes: “Rather than a regressive movement consumed with moralist disdain for alcohol use, many of its most ardent supporters wanted alcohol banned for a much more practical reason: women’s safety.” But no, they were Christian. The women who pushed for prohibition were doing it because they thought it was the right thing to do before God and everyone.
In fact, Donegan would do well to remember that until our recent wash in the toxic hormones of atheism, morality and religious belief were inextricably linked. There was no morality without religion. Many would say that this is still true, we’re just blind to it, that our society is much like Wile E. Coyote who has run off the cliff of morality and can’t yet see that there’s nothing holding us aloft, but without religious underpinnings of morality, we will plummet. Much like Donegan has. Morality is not something that can be constructed out of thin air.
Donegan actually blames liquor for male violence. However, as anyone who has lived with drunken male violence against women can tell you, liquor is a symptom, not a cause. Women who leave alcoholic men, children of alcoholic men and women, men who leave alcoholic women, can all tell you this. Alcohol may fuel the fire of rage, but the anger is there, simmering beneath the surface, all the time. Donegan’s trolly “let’s bring back temperance because drunk men are mean take” is wholly designed for clicks, not an attempt at useful discourse.
“Acknowledging this connection between alcohol and sexual violence is usually the province of moralizing misogynists, who use it as an excuse to chastise women not to drink. This was the tack taken by the contrarian writer Emily Yoffe, who in 2013 wrote in Slate of warning her college-age daughter not to drink lest men take advantage of her drunkenness to sexually assault her. But the fact remains that, although alcoholism and binge drinking are on the rise among women, they are still not nearly as prevalent among women as they are among men—nor are they linked to an attendant increase in violence by women. In short, it is by and large men, not women, who get violent when they are drunk.” Donegan writes
The Atlantic, Salon, HuffPo, Jezebel and The Daily Mail all wrote deeply angry missives about how Yoffe was off her rocker to suggest that girls should not drink just because they might get raped. The pushback against women protecting themselves by not losing their heads was that men are to blame for rape, not women, and that women shouldn’t have to adjust their behaviour just so they are not preyed upon by drunken predators. Now Donegan is basically saying that rape isn’t men’s fault; it’s alcohol’s fault. That pesky bastard alcohol, who comes from nowhere and plants seeds of rape in men’s heads.
She asks: “What if we took women’s safety as seriously as we took men’s pleasure? What would such a commitment obligate us to do?” In fact, this is what society used to do! They had super great ways of taking women’s safety as seriously as men’s pleasure, and as usual, women paid the price. There were curfews for women, women couldn’t sit at the same bars, women had separate entrances, chastity belts, chaperones, male escorts, restrictions on where they could be, who they could talk to, and when. Why? Because women’s safety was everyone’s concern, and it was everyone’s job to protect those of the weaker sex from all that could befall them.
What Donegan is really advocating for is less freedom. It’s a regressive gesture, an attempt to take safety culture to its logical end. In a sense, though, Donegan unwittingly does us all a favour. She reveals exactly how social justice maniacs think. Temperance and other anti-freedom measures are where all of this nonsense leads. Choosing to not drink may be the right choice for many men and women, but enforcement because “men are bad” is not the answer. Extreme safety requires extreme limitations on freedom, usually women’s freedom.