On any given weekend, MSU students can be found drunkenly stumbling between house parties, frat parties, bars and dorms around campus until the early hours of the morning. Because this is such a common occurrence, some students don’t realize that the widely believed myths about alcohol and gender could lead them to drinking too much and put themselves in danger.

On a typical night, the average blood alcohol content (BAC) of an MSU student is at around 0.067 percent regardless of gender, said Rebecca Allen, the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs educator for MSU. Even with similar BACs, alcohol affects women and men’s bodies and behavior in different ways.

Julia Grippe
Photo credit: Julia Grippe

The higher proportion of body fat and fewer alcohol-breaking enzymes cause women’s bodies to absorb alcohol slower than men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This means that alcohol will start affecting a woman faster and stay in her body longer than it would in a man of the same height and weight. The slow absorption time also causes women to be at a higher risk for alcohol-related heart, liver and brain disease than men, according to the CDC.

Women also have the difficulty of being the “weaker sex.” Women’s and gender studies junior Kim Kaiser said she thinks being a woman puts her at a disadvantage when she drinks because of the likelihood of getting assaulted.

“I definitely feel less safe when I drink and I don’t think that’s fair,” Kaiser said. “It sucks that women are taught not to wear certain things when they drink or not to drink as much as men because there is still this whole idea that women are here for the taking.”

Circumstances are slightly different for men. Chemical engineering sophomore Cory Holtshouser said that even though he does make some bad decisions under the influence, he thinks men in general are much safer than women while drinking.

“Being a guy makes me feel safer because I don’t have the fear of someone taking advantage of me,” Holtshouser said. “Girls have to worry about guys trying to pick them up the entire night.”

While drinking, men are more likely to experience an increased sense of aggression or desire for risk taking, Allen said. As a result, men are more likely to binge drink, get in alcohol-related traffic accidents, fight others and injure themselves while drinking alcohol.

Even though men’s bodies absorb alcohol faster than women, this risk-taking tendency has given men higher chance of alcohol-related deaths than women, according to the CDC.

Gender is not the sole determining factor when it comes to a person’s ability to tolerate alcohol. How much a person drinks, how fast a person drinks, personal circumstances (body type, mood, food, etc.) and the circumstances of where a person is drinking all factor into how drunk a person will be at the end of the night, Allen said.

In the rare circumstances when students have gotten extremely ill or even died, the individual was separated either physically or mentally—not allowing intervention—from their friends, Allen said. To prevent this from occurring, he said students need to look at drinking like they do any other risk in which they try to minimize the consequences as much as possible.

“Nobody wants to wake up the next morning and regret what they’ve done,” Allen said.

 

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