Times Of India Editorials : Message in a bottle

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Women own the decision to drink or not

As lockdown eased and alcohol vends opened up, long denied tipplers across India lined up to get their fix. But amid all the serpentine lines, one picture drew special mention: a queue of women in Bengaluru waiting patiently for their turn. Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma mocked them, saying “so much for protecting women against drunk men”.

Well, so much for hoping that people would cast off their patriarchal blinkers. It’s 2020 after all, and there has been a thorough public conversation about it. The women standing in that line felt safe enough to go about the ordinary business of buying booze, an activity that no man has to spend a second worrying about. Alcohol is not a man’s special prerogative (entitlement), it’s a pleasure and an addiction, for adults to negotiate using their judgment. For some men, substance abuse has been associated with irresponsibility and violence towards their families. That’s no reason for a nanny state to impose harsh moves like prohibition.

These are matters of personal responsibility, whatever your gender – so whether a woman unwinds with a drink or goes on a reckless bender, she deserves no more social disapproval than a man. It’s on her to weigh her health, finances and alcohol consumption (utilization). It’s not about booze at all – it’s about the right to do what you want with yourself, and the capacity to govern yourself sensibly. Whether or not she drinks, women are adults who own their choices.

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