On Being a Woman – Violence and Alcohol

Congress finally passed (or should I say, reaffirmed) the Violence Against Women Act. Apparently, what was holding up the legislation was the issue of Native American women. Do the federal government and its law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction on autonomous Indian reservations? It seems that, with the high level of alcohol consumption on reservations, the incidence of violence against women is very high, and some “bleeding heart liberals” wanted to include those women under the umbrella of American women being protected by the law, which requires rapid intervention in cases of domestic abuse and stiffer penalties for abusers.
In response to a comment I made on a public website a couple of weeks ago, some joker claimed that, if the ERA had been passed, then the Violence Against Women Act would be unconstitutional, because it would be discriminatory. (Would this be against men?) O.K., I’ll admit, SOME men are abused by women. Remember Lorena Babbitt? But wasn’t that a reaction to repeated marital rape? And yes, women sometimes kill abusive husbands or lovers.
However, the vast majority of violence is perpetrated by stronger males against weaker females. Is the fact that women are generally weaker than men some form of natural discrimination? Perhaps so, and there may be evolutionary, biological reasons for it. But then, children are weaker than adults, and we definitely have laws against child abuse. In fact, we have established a whole social and governmental network, however inadequate, to try to assure that children are not permanently maimed by their elders or reduced to such a marginal state psychologically that they cannot function independently in society.
The truth is that wife-beating is a “normal” occurrence in many cultures around the world, as it was in the U.S. until women were “liberated” in the early twentieth century. Just as once child-beating (“spare the rod and spoil the child”) and slave-beating were considered normal and necessary to ensure obedience. Beating may yield temporary obedience, but it also leads to long-term resentment, even hatred.

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Carrie Nation, Kansas Historical Society
Alcohol has always been a factor in unleashing abuse. Indeed, it was the early feminists of the mid-nineteenth century who, along with some preachers, started the movement for prohibition of the sale of alcohol. Far too many American men were going to men-only bars, drinking up all their weekly earnings, and then coming home to beat wives and children, leaving them with no money for food. During Prohibition, although “liquor” never disappeared from the market, it was much harder to come by, and the lot of American women (and children) improved.
Moreover, the speakeasies of the Prohibition era were gender-integrated, and when Prohibition ended, women were also allowed into the newly opened public bars, tempering the excessive male drinking. Thus, after Prohibition, the per-person alcohol consumption never reached its prior level. So Prohibition did some good, and improved the lives of women on the national social scene. This good was, to some extent, counteracted by the creation of a national organized crime structure (“The Mafia”) as well as an increase in alcoholism among women.
How does alcohol promote violence? Very simply, alcohol damages the brain, most particularly, the prefrontal cortex, which serves our conscience, and our concern for others. Without that part of the brain functioning properly, we give way to impulses and animal reactions buried deeper in the brain, which are less complex, and less susceptible to scrambling by alcohol and other drugs.
The health-care pundits recommend (red) wine for cardiovascular health – one glass if you’re female or two if you’re male. O.K. Any more than that and someone is likely to get hurt.

About joannevalentinesimson

Scientist, traveler, woman, writer, spiritual explorer, mother, grandmother, fascinated with the world, appalled by deliberate human ignorance. Blogs include: http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/ http://solowomenathomeandabroad.blogspot.com/ http://spiritandscience.net/ http://caringforyourbody.org/
This entry was posted in Being a Woman and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to On Being a Woman – Violence and Alcohol

  1. awriterweavesatale says:

    interesting historical here that I didn’t know about.
    Thanks for your comment about my novels on my blog. I replied back. I should look into it. Thanks again.

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