Many of people have asked us over the past few days, why focus on women? Why binge drinking? Both sexes drink and some of us drink too much. In response, we asked the director of Girls’ Night Out, Phyllis Ellis why she wanted to make a film solely about womean and binge drinking.
Ellis: "I read Ann Dowsett’s book ‘Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol’ and it intrigued me. I was especially drawn to the chapter “Binge.” Ann had interviewed many young women who were shockingly honest about their experiences while binging, and I thought, why just young women? Why not speak to young men too? I mean they drink as much, maybe more.
But then came the facts:
- While it’s true that both young women and young men binge drink, the rate of binge drinking among women has increased more than seven times than men in the past 10 years. (American Public Health Association, 2015)
- Alcohol is also the leading cause of death for women ages 18-24 in the Americas. (David Jernigan PhD - Centre for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) http://www.camy.org/resources/fact-sheets/)
As a filmmaker, and as a survivor of a violent sexual assault at frosh week almost 30 years ago (I was drunk and couldn’t defend myself), I couldn’t ignore the facts. I couldn’t ignore them as a mother, an artist, a feminist and as a survivor. I wanted to give young womean a voice. I wanted to tell the truth, not to point a finger at young women and blame them for an incredibly normalized drinking culture. I wanted to start a conversation.
I felt it was important to look deeply at all of the pressures facing young women today: social anxiety, body image, hook-up culture, an alcohol industry that is marketing directly to women, narratives in pop culture that encourage and glamourize alcohol, and the pressures of social media.
Alcohol is a womean’s issue whether we want to admit it or not. The fight for equality shouldn’t mean ‘if he drinks 10 drinks then I’ll drink 10 drinks.’ The big question really is: “Why is anybody drinking 10 drinks?”
Watch the film and then let’s talk."
At the end of the day, the goal of Girls’ Night Out is to start a dialogue. This isn’t to shame anyone who’s endured injury, violence or assault while binge drinking. It’s not about telling only women that binge drinking can be dangerous. It’s about delving deeper into underlying feelings of acceptance, self-worth and body image that can compel young women to binge drink. It’s about shedding light and igniting a dialogue around a potentially deadly, yet seemingly normal cultural activity.
FIRSTHAND wants to hear your thoughts following the broadcast! Let’s talk and discuss.