A change is always shadowed by debates. Whenever there is a change in the air, people choose sides, some for it, some against it and some simply let it be. Therefore, when the conservative Indian woman, leaving behind her ‘ghoonghat’ started embracing the western culture, the debate was unavoidable. And a big issue in this debate was ‘the rise in the consumption of alcohol by women’. Where some people felt, that the increase in consumption of alcohol is due to the independence of choice which women never had before, others claimed it to be the trend of show off, a bid to fit in ‘The Group’
According to Anchal Singal a 24-year-old banker, “The increase in consumption of alcohol by women is not due to the increase in her independence but rather because it has become a status symbol and no one wants to be made fun of by their colleagues refusing to share a drink with them after work. After all, nowadays, consuming alcohol has become the criteria for ‘being modern’ in the eyes of many.”
But Viviya Spall, a student of masters in sociology from Delhi University believes that the increase in alcohol consumption in women is the result of change in the family structure of our society. She says, “Now we lead very private lives and don’t prefer to share many details with others. Broken homes or living bachelor lives can also be very lonely, leading to anxiety or desperation; which further increases their dependence upon alcohol.” She believes that people drink to escape reality, they substitute it as a way of asserting their independence, but it is an escape from all their visible and invisible burdens. “Otherwise why would you drink both in mourning and in celebration?” she questions.
On the other hand, some women claim to consume alcohol solely for the purpose of medical benefits but Dr Diksha Singh strongly believes that alcohol consumption is now, a statement of class. On being asked about the claims of beer being good for hair and wine for heart, she says “well, cow urine is also very beneficial for health but no one drinks it! Do they? Alcohol is not the only thing left on earth. Moreover, in the long term it is bound to have a disastrous effect on body of the women. For example, women who tend to drink are likely to suffer from liver damage and heart disease more than men who drink the same amount of alcohol, also they can encounter problems during pregnancy and cause physical and psychological damage to the foetus and are vulnerable to sexual abuse and sexually transmitted diseases due to unprotected sex.” Further she advices women who consumes alcohol for health benefit to try fresh juice and yoga.
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However, not all believe that women only drink to show off, gain success in short amount of time or copy western culture. They feel that they are sensible enough to make their choices. At the age of 25 (legal drinking age in Delhi), you know what is good for you and what is not. Vikash Gupta, director of Opera Wines feels that “Today’s woman is lot more confident and independent and makes her choice that suits her and she has all the right to do so. She is consuming alcohol as per her liking and not at all to impress or show off.”
Today, many women drink alcohol but all have different reasons for it. They can vary from being social to personal. However, this consumption of alcohol among women is not the same as it is for men. Since times immemorial, men have been drinking alcohol and for them it is just that. But for women it’s not mere alcohol, it is also about equalising with men.
It is, in a way, a sign of progress, a sign that shows that women are now no more mere homemakers tamed by society, but instead they now are free birds coming out from their protective spheres and ready to fly around the world!