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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The curse of the thinking class

Bottoms up, ladies: In a recent study done by the London School of Economics, researchers have concluded that the cleverest women are the heaviest drinkers.

An April 4 article in the Telegraph reported, “”Those with degrees are almost twice as likely to drink daily,”” and that “”women who achieved ‘medium’ or ‘high’ test marks as schoolgirls are up to 2.1 times more likely to drink daily as adults.””

The study also found that “”(a) similar link between educational attainment and alcohol consumption is seen among men, but the correlation is less strong.”” So that guy who’s drunk in class might actually be a genius, and that random girl passed out on the stairs could really be smarter than you, even if she looks really, really dumb at the moment.

But not all is cosmos and bubbly for the literate ladies. According to the Telegraph article, the report concludes: “”The more educated women are, the more likely … to report having problems due to their drinking patterns”” and that “”higher educated women were 1.7 times more likely to have a drinking problem.””

Trying to understand how it could be that the smartest girls drink the most might be like trying to solve differential equations after half a bottle of Jose Cuervo, but there are several reasons smart women drink more. And it’s not just to be able listen to the level of discourse at the average college party without retching.

According to the report, “”Reasons for the positive association of education and drinking behaviors may include: a more intensive social life that encourages alcohol intake; a greater engagement into traditionally male spheres of life, a greater social acceptability of alcohol use and abuse; more exposure to alcohol use during formative years; and greater postponement of childbearing and its responsibilities among the better educated.””

The researchers continued, “”People with higher qualifications have more disposable income,”” implying smart women have more money to burn on $4-a-bottle Belgian beer with a 9 percent alcohol by volume versus the 3 percent of the poor man’s Keystone.

What the researchers do not seem to consider, however, is the increasing significance of drinking as a sign of feminine control.

Gender roles have changed drastically in the last thirty years, and researchers may be seeing women’s last gulp at equality.

In a 2008 article in New York Magazine, Alex Morris concluded that women are not drinking more to lose control but to assert it: “”A woman exerting her power by making herself incapacitated does not read as a disjunction. Control — and the decision of when and how to lose it — is the point.””

Morris wrote, “”My point here is that the closing of the gender gap isn’t about men needing to compete with men or wanting to feel like men. It’s about women going after the things they want, and feeling that alcohol, variously, can help them. If men come into the picture at all, it’s only because what women sometimes want is sex, the final frontier of gender equality, and the socially sanctified follies of alcohol set the stage perfectly for the type of sex women may want but fear is unacceptable to seek.””

The fact that women are drinking more is not, when considered alone, particularly concerning, but the fact that women are having more problems with drinking is. In 2005, more than 55 percent of the students on college campuses who met the clinical description of alcoholism were women.

The researchers of the London Sschool of Economics study are correct that cultural changes are factors in this tipsy trend and that well-educated women may drink more because they have children later, have more disposable income or work in a male-dominated field in which their co-workers drink. But Morris’ point is a strong one: women aren’t drinking because of men.

So why are women drinking more, and why are more well-educated women having problems with alcoholism? This might be explained through the possibility that these women are more aware of the problems than their lower-scoring counterparts. More likely, however, is that women are drinking more because it is the last culturally acceptable way to lose control.

—Anna Swenson is a sophomore majoring in English.

She can be reached at

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