Ladies Drink Free


Whether glamorized or pitied, the figure of the alcoholic writer has long been a subject of cultural fascination. Having written a book on the usual suspects—Hemingway, Fitzgerald, et al.—Olivia Laing asks the unfortunately necessary follow-up question: okay, but what about the women? At the Guardian, she explores female writers’s reasons for drinking, as well as society’s tendency to ignore them:

In her 1987 book Practicalities, the French novelist and film-maker Marguerite Duras says many shocking things about what it means to be a woman and a writer. One of her most striking statements is about the difference between male and female drinking—or rather the difference in how the two are perceived. “When a woman drinks,” she writes, “it’s as if an animal were drinking, or a child. Alcoholism is scandalous in a woman, and a female alcoholic is rare, a serious matter. It’s a slur on the divine in our nature.”

Roxie Pell is a student at Wesleyan University, where she writes for Wesleying and The Argus and tweets hilarious nuggets of pure wisdom @jonathnfranzen. More from this author →