An article appeared in Newsweek about how girls are closing the gender gap. It’s not good news. Here’s another area where girls are becoming more like boys: teenage drinking.
“The number of middle- and high-school girls who say they drink has increased by 11 percent in the past year, from 53 percent to 59 percent.”
“Researchers speculate that more products devoted to making drinking easier and tastier—the sugar-laden beverages known as alco-pops—are a factor. “There’s a whole new raft of products that have come out in the last 10 to 12 years that were oriented to young females,” says David Jerigan, executive director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. “Alcohol now gets sold to girls as a functional food: it gets sold with calorie information, a drink of fitness, a drink with health benefits.” ”
“The Partnership for a Drug Free America results also show that girls are more likely to associate drugs and alcohol with a way to avoid problems and relieve stress.”
“The stress of figuring out gender roles, of doing well in school, and of the larger social and economic realities has led this generation’s teenagers to be more anxious than previous generations, says Walker.”
Drinking is bad for both genders. Male. Female. Doesn’t matter. Alcohol makes your brain look like 2 eggs in a hot frying pan (so I’ve been told). It causes you to change your personality. It causes you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. It causes you to look dumb. And yet, the marketers are sneaky — marketing it in a way that makes it more attractive to teen girls.
What’s really interesting to me is that they say the motivation for teen girls to drink is because of stress. And one of the stressors they listed is figuring out gender roles. That’s a stressor that likely wouldn’t have existed 50 years ago. Maybe women didn’t like the gender roles they’d been assigned, but they knew what they were. We knew what a woman was. We knew what a man was. We knew that they were different. Both good, but different. Today, teens don’t really know that. Men look like women. Men act like women. Women look like men. Women act like men. It’s all confusing.
So…help a teen do something they won’t regret. Encourage them not to drink. Encourage them to figure out gender roles. Encourage them to do well in school, but to have realistic expectations of themselves. Help them to interpret the social and economic times. Help them to focus on who God is and what God would have them do. Help them navigate these waters without doing something they’ll regret!