October 6, 2013

Dear Drunk Girl.

Because, dear drunk girl, I love you even when you don’t.

Dear Drunk Girl,

I see you everywhere.

I live in this college town, in the only owner-occupied house on a street of student rentals. I see you during Welcome Week, Saturday mornings when there’s a home football game, on St. Patrick’s Day and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

You are at parties next door and across the street, stumbling up our hill in high heels at 3:27 a.m., and sitting on the curb crying and yelling into your cell. Often, I see you getting dropped off in the morning in last night’s party dress, heels in your hand and your hair a crazy mutation of the previous night’s carefully arranged “do.”

I have watched you play Strip Beer Pong on the porch, wearing nothing but a bra and jean shorts. I have heard you talking as you passed my house late at night, your words barely understandable (although very, very loud) and mostly about being “so fucking drunk.”

Don’t roll your eyes at me because I’m old enough to be your mother.

I drink, and I’m not a prude. I am familiar with the relaxing power of a Guinness or a gin and tonic, and I admit that I feel a little prettier, a little more entertaining at a party after a drink or two. I’ve also been really drunk, although not recently. I’ve felt my bed spinning, thrown up in a bar bathroom and woken up believing and wishing that I would die because everything hurt and the world was simultaneously too bright and impossibly fuzzy and muffled.

I’m not judging you. I’m worried about you.

I have a 16-year-old son, and while I worry about what could happen to him, from driving drunk to alcohol poisoning, he will never be vulnerable in the way that you are. It’s wrong, maybe, that we live in a society with that kind of inequality, but we do.

In a college town like this, there are people who show up on big drinking days looking for young women who are so drunk that they’re easy targets for assault. I didn’t make that up; a police officer described to me the number of calls he’s been on where a woman was left behind by her friends, and someone hurt her.

The officer, the father of two daughters, had tears in his eyes. He said it happens here every weekend.

The officer also made a remark about the way the victims tended to be dressed, which immediately made me furious. I called him on it, asking if he really believed that any woman was inviting assault by wearing revealing clothing. He said that he wasn’t being “political” with me (whatever that means) but that realistically, a man who is going to take advantage of a woman’s incapacity was not going to sit around thinking about whether her party outfit was an invitation to him, or to someone else.

I hate that this is true, I think you should be able to dress any way you like. Because you are young, and beautiful, and you should not have to cover up because some men are predatory or Neanderthal. You should be free, as free as any man on earth.


Here’s the part of all of this that I really, really want you to remember: if you drink so much that your judgment is impaired, that you lose control of yourself, that you black out, you put yourself at risk. That is your choice, and nobody else’s. You live in this world, for better or worse, and with freedom comes responsibility.

Please don’t drink so much that when you break a heel, or stop to puke in the alley, your friends keep moving and leave you alone. When you are shitfaced drunk and isolated at 3:00 a.m. in an alley, you are not safe.

Please don’t drink so much that you hook up with guys you don’t really know, and might not even like very much when you’re sober. If you’re that drunk, it won’t be a great sexual experience anyway. Plus there’s all that disease and pregnancy stuff that could totally mess up your plans and stop your big, beautiful life in its tracks.

Please don’t drink so much that you call that guy you went out with twice, and ask him why he isn’t at the party, and if he’s with another girl, and then yell “you fucking asshole, I know you’re with her!” into your phone. And don’t take your top off in public. And don’t pass out in strange houses.

Because I also see you sober.

I see you everywhere. I see you walking to class in the morning, carrying your design portfolio or your chemistry notes. I see you marching in the band at the Homecoming parade, and coming home from soccer practice with your messy braid and your duffel full of cleats and shin guards. I talk to you about your plans to be teachers, to plan LEED certified buildings, and to move to D.C. and get your start in politics. I see you organizing “Take Back the Night” vigils, and carpooling to the Capitol to protest against injustice.

I know that you can be anything and everything, and I want to keep you safe so you can get where you’re going.

I’m somebody’s mom, and I’m part of the “village” that’s still raising you, even after you move away from home and off campus.

Because, dear drunk girl, I love you even when you don’t.


That Lady on the Porch Across the Street



For more: Rape, Sexual Assault Resources.

Relephant bonus:


In Response to “Dear Drunk Girl.”

Best anti-Drunk Driving PSA ever? Legend.

Alcohol vs. Pot. {NSFW video}


For when you decide to drink, drink mindfully:


Like elephant journal on Facebook.

Ed: Catherine Monkman

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spacegeekchick Mar 18, 2015 4:25pm

Where were you when I was drunk girl? Excellent article. This should be posted on all campus walls.

angieaker Mar 17, 2015 11:19pm

Oh goodie. Concern trolling… i.e. victim blaming in the form of pretending you just want to mother her.

I'm a mother of teens and tweens and I think you straddled the line of your conscience and picked the wrong side here.

The message should be, please watch out for your friends and please choose friends who will watch out for you and then live your life to fullest extent that you feel comfortable and judge as appropriate just like any man gets to and should some bullshit happen, IT ISN'T YOUR FAULT, IT IS ALWAYS THE AGGRESSOR'S FAULT.


Concern-trolling. You just did it. And you're probably feeling really good about all the surface-thinkers telling you how wise and wonderful this is. You shouldn't.

Ramsey Feb 6, 2015 12:24pm

Is it right that women have to be vigilant and ever alert to the threat of rape? Absolutely not. However it’s the world we currently live in. This piece wasn’t about victim shaming or blaming, it very rightly pointed out the injustice of our society. We live in a society where women are raped with horrifying frequency and then are further victimized by our legal system. We live in a society that blames the victim for being victimized, where news pundits (even liberal ones) dismiss rape and bends over backwards to justify the rapists themselves. Like it or not that is the reality of life in the US. Until we can fix America’s rape culture, women and girls will continue be endangered, simply because they are female. It’s a horrible reality, one that is unjust, unfair and it’s taking way too long to change, but until it does, women are going to continue to have to live this way. The fact that it’s unjust and unfair makes not one damn bit of difference to the man who is going to rape you and that is a bell that can’t be unwrung. Rape is a soul killing, life shattering ordeal. I wouldn’t wish the pain and suffering I’ve endured on anyone and if there is any way to minimize the risk it should be talked about. The men who raped me didn’t care about the unjustness of the situation, they didn’t care that I should never have had to bear any responsibility for their actions. So again, until this fight is won and women can live their lives without the ever-present risk of being raped, these are things we need to keep talking about.

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Ann Nichols

Ann Nichols has been everything from a cellist to a lawyer, and is currently a Buddhist who gets paid to cook at a Protestant church. She lives in a 100-year old house in Michigan with her husband, her son and an improbable number of animals. You can hang out with her by joining the Facebook group “Metta-Morphosis.”