Rebel Without The Wine
I fully believe in personal responsibility, which is why I made the decision to stop drinking altogether seven years ago. But I also believe there are influences all around us, some of which we are not even aware but which nevertheless determine our behaviour to a degree. The choices we make in life do not stem solely from our innate personalities (although I do admit to possessing a rebellious streak which no doubt contributed to the origins of my drinking habits. It was obvious when I was a toddler and it's still lingering today, even as a 42-year-old woman; I had to drive through a red light the other day which was clearly stuck - I'd been sitting waiting at the traffic lights for about 10 minutes before pressing down on the accelerator - and felt a frisson of excitement and naughtiness as I did so!), but a combination of the way we are born, how we are brought up, and also the societal environment we are immersed in.
There’s an insidious wave of cultural messaging that’s been on going for at least twenty years, and it goes something like this: “Women, if you are ground down by the social pressure to be perfect in every way, to tow the line and be a good wife and a patient, giving mother, then take note! Drinking wine will enable you to escape this domestic bind for a brief moment, and we, your sisters, will applaud you while you knock back a glass (or three!). Go on! Enjoy yourself. You deserve it!”
You can locate variations of this message in all manner of places, from greetings cards to women’s magazines (just yesterday I was flicking through an old copy of Good Housekeeping in which there was an interview with Katie Derham for whom the GH journalist who wrote the piece had great admiration for, as she admitted to drinking ‘bucket loads of pink wine’), to quirky wine glasses adorned with phrases such as, ‘It’s wine o’clock somewhere in the world!’ The Prosecco and craft gin crazes of the last few years have fuelled this cultural signposting in the same way a strong gust of air breathes superpower into a burgeoning flame.
We are influenced by such messages. They tap into latent desires to revisit our youth, to be a bit naughty and unconventional – to release ourselves, albeit temporarily, from the shackles of a humdrum existence. When we are subjected to such notions of what makes a strong, independent woman and we desperately want to be this type of person, it’s a recipe for disaster. It’s all too easy to run with the idea that a bottle of wine equates to the key to our emotional freedom, the route to becoming the person we have always wanted to be.
I think this kind of journalism is now tired, somewhat out-of-date. It’s an easy, lazy means of getting across the fact that an interviewee is ‘one of us’, a modern woman who has no time for societal expectations. But it no longer has this desired effect – at least, not in my opinion. Drinking excessive amounts of wine has become all too common, all too predictable, so much so that it doesn’t amount to rebellion anymore at all. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
I consider myself to be far more rebellious as a non-drinker than I ever was when I was knocking back endless bottles of Chardonnay. In that persona I was just another woman who believed that getting drunk meant people perceived her as feisty, modern, wayward and unfettered. Which meant I was precisely the obverse – one of millions who had fallen for the myth that all sexy and modern women drink ‘bucket loads’ of wine.
To be a true rebel in 2018, you’d be far better off sacking the wine and becoming a Soberista. It’s a way of life that I’m infinitely happier to be embracing.