Award-winning Canadian journalist Johnston expands on her 14-part Toronto Star series on women and alcohol.
“Has alcohol become the modern woman's steroid, enabling her to do the heavy lifting necessary in an endlessly complex world?” asks the author. Coming of age in the 1970s, Johnston was part of the first wave of women inspired by Gloria Steinem. As both a devoted mother and an editor at Maclean’s, she played her part in closing the gender gap. Like other women of her generation—and to a greater degree, the young women who followed her—she also fell into the trap of using alcohol as a crutch to ease the stress of balancing career and motherhood. She uses her own experience of increasing dependency on drinking to illustrate a broader, worsening trend among young Canadian and American women of out-of-control, binge drinking. “One in five high-school girls binge drinks,” writes Johnson. Among women of childbearing age, the number is higher. If they drink while pregnant, they put their babies at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome. Johnston explains how young women are not only vulnerable to sexual abuse when they drink to excess, but they also endanger themselves physiologically (for metabolic and hormonal reasons) when they try to match men drink for drink. In the author’s opinion, a misplaced idea of female entitlement is partially responsible, but the alcohol industry also plays a significant role through the marketing of new brands of trendy wines for women with names such as “French Rabbit” and “MommyJuice.” There are also “Skinnygirl Cocktails” packaged for the calorie-conscious drinker. Today, Johnston is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and an advocate on public policy.
A compelling sociological study and memoir.