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Did you guys see that article making the rounds on our Facebook and Twitter feeds? You know the one, about how women are boozing it up in supposed record numbers. We are drinking hard liquor in the nail salon, at the DMV, at our mammograms!
Kristi Coulter wrote Enjoli to remind us ladies that it’s hard to be a 24-hour woman, and to hector us that we can’t do it all and we certainly can’t do it with a buzz. I’m old enough to remember the Enjoli commercial. Bring home the bacon. Fry it up in a pan. Hell, I’m old enough to have smelled Enjoli. It smells like grandma’s Shalimar had sex with a garbage can, which is fitting since this viral article is also hot, stinky garbage.
I’m newly sober and dog-paddling through the booze all around me. -Kristi Coulter
Honest congratulations to Coulter on being sober. I am sympathetic to this, her overcoming an addiction and navigating a world that doesn’t care and isn’t obligated to honor your struggles. I don’t know what it’s like to be a substance addict. Mary Carr, recovered alcoholic and author of the amazing memoir Lit, once told Terry Gross on Fresh Air, “I think it was Paul Celan who describes taking a drink and feeling a sunflower open in his chest. I was one of those people.” I am not one of those people, and I am thankful that is not my affliction.
I’m sympathetic that since her sobriety, Coulter sees alcohol everywhere. Temptation lurking, not just in the existence of alcohol but friends and colleagues offering you — provoking you — with libations. Coulter details the places where the pull of booze lurks, where bottles of booze reside. The drug store. The community bar at her office. The work junket/conference. So. Many. Places.
But the more I read her piece, the more it starts to feel a bit hyperbolic. Her office has more than one well-stocked bar on her floor. Who does she work for? Jack Daniels? As far as the drug store goes, booze in drugstores is not a new thing, and I would feel sympathy that she can’t drink at work events until she tells us that only booze is offered. No water to be found. At a wine tasting? How do you cleanse your palette or glass? (Insert my epic side eye).
I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we have a woman running for president. And of course, she’s being judged solely on her ability to handle the job and her understanding of domestic and foreign policy.
Kidding! Hillary Clinton is being judged by her ability to smile, to not smile, to connect on a personal level, to not yell, to modulate, to not screech, to make jokes, to be serious, to laugh while not laughing in a bad, etc. Basically, Hillary can’t do anything right. Women can’t do anything right, besides gain weight and ruin the think tank known as the Miss Universe pageant.
If her Twitter posts and retweets are any indication, Coulter gets the microscope that Hillary, as a woman, is under.
Translation: “I love the idea of a female president! Just not one who could actually get the job. Wah.” https://t.co/NJAY2UxDKX
— Kristi Coulter (@KristiCCoulter) September 21, 2016
I assume that Coulter understands the gripe that women feel we can’t do anything right. We can’t smile right. We can’t laugh right. And according to Coulter, we can’t even drink right.
That’s the summer I realize that everyone around me is tanked. But it also dawns on me that a lot of the women are super double tanked — that to be a modern, urbane woman means to be a serious drinker.
Women can’t be tanked right, compared to men. We have to be super double (!) tanked, and isn’t that such a tsk tsk shame!
The trouble with Coulter is that she seems to struggle with two things: alcoholism and being humorless.
One day that summer I’m wearing unwise (but cute, so cute) shoes and trip at the farmer’s market, cracking my phone, blood-staining the knees of my favorite jeans, and scraping both my palms. Naturally, I post about it on Facebook as soon as I’ve dusted myself off. Three women who don’t know I’m sober comment quickly:
“Do they sell wine there?”
“Definitely wine. And maybe new shoes.”
Have I mentioned that it’s morning when this happens? On a weekday? This isn’t one of those nightclub farmer’s markets.
I’m pretty sure her Facebook friends probably didn’t mean wine that very second. They were trying to make her feel better by being funny, but to Coulter, it’s not funny. It’s a slight. I once dated a guy like that. A collector of slights. A scavenger of wrongs. This is not a fun person to be around because everything you say will be remembered as damaging to them in some way.
Coulter is clouded by the lens of her own struggles. She was miserable then and she seems a bit miserable in sobriety. Projecting is not a good look, and the feminist in me cringes that she projects onto all women who cocktail. Yes, Coulter seems to have flashes of self awareness:
Newly sober women have a lot of wonderful qualities, but lack of judginess not one of them.
But you can’t be self aware and then mock women enjoying Magic Mike.
A few rows ahead of me, a group of women are drinking champagne through straws. They whoop and holler at the screen as though at an actual Chippendale’s. In the parking lot afterward, one of them says to the others: “Girl time! We have to claim our girl time.” “We’ve earned this,” another replies. And then they drive off in separate directions.
How dare they! Enjoying the silliness and campiness of Channing Tatum to full effect. Burn the witches! What is about women named Coulter hating on other women?
And the women aren’t the kind of beleaguered, downtrodden creatures you imagine drinking to get through the day. They’re pretty cool chicks, the kind people ridicule for having First World Problems. Why do they need to drink?
I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t need to drink. I can drink. I sometimes want to drink. I sometimes have no interest in alcohol at all. I’m a grown-ass woman, so do not infantilize me.
And then I start to get angry at women, too. Not for being born wrong, or for failing to dismantle a thousand years of patriarchy on my personal timetable. But for being so easily mollified by a bottle. For thinking that the right to get as trashed as a man means anything but the right to be as useless.
If overstating things were a cocktail, this excerpt would be a Long Island Iced Tea. Women are failing to dismantle the patriarchy because we are too busy attending wine tastings? Can I find the patriarchy where it meets? Does it meet at the bar at Hooters?
My friends, we often get together for dinner and cocktails. But we are actually getting together to be together. If I only needed a cocktail, I’ll can pour that by myself. I know where the liquor store is.
For spreading the notion that women should have a career, keep house, and fuck their husbands, when the only sane thing to do is pick two and outsource the third. For making it seem glamorous. For suggesting it was going to be fun. And for the tagline she dragged around: “The 8-Hour Perfume for the 24-Hour Woman.” Just in case you thought you could get one fucking hour off the clock.
I have a career. I’m a single mom. I keep house. I don’t have a husband to make sweet love to, but I have a boyfriend who is very familiar with my lady bits. I was recently shamed at my daughter’s tennis lesson by another mom for my taking the time to read books. “I don’t have time to read,” she said. “I’m too busy raising tiny humans.” I’m sorry I’ve figured out how to juggle the demands of my life with a decent amount of fun and humor. Maybe I’ve figured out that part of juggling comes dropping things. Lucky for me, I’ve surrounded myself by lovely women friends who get that, too. We drop stuff. Even our wine! (I’m looking at you Dani!)
Coulter is a recovering alcoholic. And she sounds hella unhappy. She needs to get a hobby, and I don’t mean this as a dig. I play tennis. I run. I read books or Southern Living magazine. I watch TV. I cook (sometimes). I like to be alone with myself (this is not a masturbation joke). Maybe self care is what Coulter is missing. Maybe she needs a better set of friends.
I don’t know what it’s like to try and be sober in this world, but alcohol is not new. It didn’t become a thing when we hit adulthood; we just became more aware of it. I’m a recovered anorexic/bulimic, and food, cleanses, and Fitbits are everywhere. Like Coulter, I hate
Trump the patriarchy that makes us feel bad about our bodies and our paychecks. But I don’t look at my friend ordering gluten free Paleo and think, “You bitch.” Her diet is her problem. Not mine. The best I can do is offer her my copy of Lindsey West’s Shrill and change the world by not letting it ruin my thoughts and passing that on to my daughter.
One last thing before I go.
I run a women’s half-marathon on a day in August when temperatures are fifteen degrees above normal. It’s a — what do you call it — a horror show. But I finish and someone puts a finisher’s medal on me. I’m soaked, chafed, limping, and still triumphant. Until they say: “The margarita tent is right over there!”
Is there a Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville Marathon no one is telling me about?! The best thing you get after Boston is a crap Sam Adams and a King’s Hawaiian roll. Shenanigans.