I’ve had my fair share of less than stellar drunken moments running with the fast crowd and trying to keep up with my boyfriends’ drinking. And then my husband’s drinking. Such was life in the 20th century. Men and women were equals. “Anything you can do, I can do better,” was my hidden mantra when the boys came round.
Yet, looking back my father was right. Nothing good comes of a girl out past 12 in a saloon. Dancing on a slippery bar and crashing down with the hanging glasses almost landed a friend in the hospital. How many places in Hoboken were we banned from? I can’t remember.
Now what does this have to do with history? For a brief shining moment in America there came upon the land the Cult of Womanhood. People nowadays look on this period as the ultimate joke against women. They think that the sinister members of the patriarchy, rubbing their hands together viciously, devised a way in which women could be fooled into actually believing that their role in society mattered. They forced women to think that they were an integral part of bringing forth a civilized nation. (Note: should one sex be more moral than the other?)
Of course women did drink and get knocked up and all, but the point was that in general they were to be the torch-bearers of the high ground and were to pass it on to the next generation. You see how devious this plan was? Women kinda fell for it (even as the very few smart ones saw through it and worked for free love and the right to wear pants).
A lot of women thought being with the kids felt right and that working in a coal mine wasn’t appealing. Many thought politicians were swine and were happy to steer clear of the pig pen. While they mourned the loss of their men in battle, most didn’t want to join them. Some will say the men were just throwing the women a bone whilst they went off to do real things like make war (and do boyish things like play video games in their pajamas all day).
There were women who bucked the whole marriage and family thing and were looked upon warily until they proved their mettle. They edited newspapers, traveled the world and became spies, etc. People like to say men don’t respect women, but do women respect men? Aren’t we all a bit self-righteously pointing fingers most of the time? Do we live in a fantasy land that says women are as strong as men until they get knocked out by a drunken football player? Or that women can get drunk and high and accuse all men of gang rape? Or that teenaged boys will consider sex with a hot teacher rape? Haven’t men and women been abdicating responsibility for their actions by blaming the other sex for centuries?
None of us want the moral high ground anymore. That’s for suckers. We want to do as we please and call it some form of sublime equality instead of a race to the gutter. We’re all only one sloppy drunk night away from killing someone on the rode to our “rights.” Men and women sit equally on the bar stools. We have our rights. We want more rights. But do we have love?
The waters are muddy once the intoxication wears off. Temperance women were laughed at and their battle lost. Some went on to fight for rights and others went quietly home to their husbands (some of them good and some of them bad). Rights are about me. Love is about you. Which am I willing to I fight for?
14 responses to “Drunks”
Wow you are all over the place here. Funny I grew up in Hudson County. My father worked for years in Hoboken and my brother went to college at Stevens Tech there. I grew up not that for from the scene of your novels Englewood. Hey how about a drink sometime. Oops perhaps I missed the point of the article. As I read this I think of the saying (probably misquoted) “would you rather be right or happy”
LOL. I’m feeling all over the place today. Just took my kitten to get neutered on the wrong day, but they took him anyway.
My father’s family grew up in North Bergen and I spent many happy days sitting on their front stoops waiting for the ice cream man and listening to family stories about how great “the avenue” used to be.
My brother often recalls a UFO sighting in Hudson County Park. 🙂
I dated a few guys from Stevens–they helped me with college algebra. Haha. I can’t believe how upscale good old Hoboken has become. I don’t think I could afford drinks with you there–how about someplace in Englewood? I used to teach at St Cecilia’s and my mother’s grandfather had a house on James Street.
Oh, how I love New Jersey people! I miss New Milford sometimes. We probably have a lot in common!
Wow I grew up in North Bergen at 85th street and Second Avenue. Yes I remember when Bergenline Avenue was great and the Good Humor Truck came around. My mom still lives in Fairview. Englewood be fine.
All of my cousins went to North Bergen High School. My brother’s dream is to move and live on the top of the hill. I think my father and mother always regretted leaving North Bergen for the suburbs, but at the time it was much cheaper to buy a house in “the sticks” as they used to call New Milford. LOL.
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Very good post.
Why, thank you very much!
You ask excellent questions.
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I enjoyed this post. The sentiments reminded me of Camille Paglia but the gritty prose is definitely yours.
Camille’s my girl 🙂
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I’ve never been to keen on the “war of the sexes”, reminiscent – to me – of Marx and Hegel’s class struggle. (One has seen the results of the latter).
Wouldn’t it be simpler to just respect the Other, man or woman, black or white, christian or moslem as they are? And when I say “respect”, I do not mean the contrary of the overused “disrespect”, I mean respecting boundaries. (Both ways)
Thanks for the thought!
Agreed. The third wave feminists just sorta went a bit crazy, I think. They don’t speak for me or anyone I know. Men have their flaws as do women. Most men are not holding elite positions in the world. They’re just trying to figure out how to get by in life. Once I realized I didn’t have to be a warrior against men I started enjoying and admiring them a lot more. I also was able to enjoy being a woman.
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Another way to look at it is that men and women are two entirely different species who happen to breed! 🙂 And the result comes out in the form of lovely hybrids: children! 🙂
Take care Adrienne.
Children bring a whole new level of drama–especially teen-aged girls.