Inabstinent women : the drunken threat
My thesis is that femininity is constructed as abstinent, in particular, as abstinent from public, productive labour and from the active expression of desire/pleasure. Further, that the enforcement of women's abstinence through psychiatric, psychological and sociological discourses on femininity ensures the means of patriarchal expression. Women's inabstinence, therefore, poses a threat to patriarchal expression, and insofar as patriarchy is realised through patriarchal expression, to the stability of patriarchal society. Women's drunken inabstinence, however, provides only a temporary, individualised and often self-destructive omen of the threat. My fieldwork focuses on the processes and experiences through which women come to be administered as `alcoholic'/`problem drinkers'. My meetings and discussions with alcohol and drug agency workers and with women administratively defined as `alcoholic'/`problem drinkers' explicated the processes of the social control of all women in terms of the containment and privatisation of their active collective pursuit of pleasure. Drunken women's struggle against the strictures of femininity expresses the beginnings of a threat to patriarchy; however, insofar as the characteristics of femininity itself are `drunken' in their demands for dependency, patriarchal accessibility and a dislocation from public/productive activity, drunkenness as a critique of patriarchy is self-defeating. The challenge to patriarchy comes only in women's sober, collective refusal to abstain from passion.