LaBrie et al (2009)* suggest that college women may be excessively drinking in order to impress the opposite sex, and it isn't working. Their survey of over 3,000 college students found that 71% of women overestimated the amount a man would want a female friend, date, or girlfriend to drink, and high estimates were linked with higher reported drinking. On average, women thought men preferred a woman who would drink 4.75 "standard" drinks on a typical drinking occasion; men reported preferring 3.18 drinks.
Not much research appears to be available on the gender-construction of drinking in the U.S. college population, as opposed to the U.K., where "ladettes" and portrayal of "feminine drinks" in teen magazines have been an active inquiry for several years (see DB 10/3/06 & 7/7/08; Jackson, 2006; Lyons et al, 2006).
*Not yet available in abstract databases: see EurekAlert (2009) for a summary or download the full article from the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors journal page
I can go ahead and say I was guilty of trying to "keep up" with my male friends' drinking in college. (Hell, I'm probably still guilty of it to a degree.) I was smaller than them, and my fat-to-muscle ratio wasn't comparable either, so I ended up hurting myself more often than I should have. I don't think I was consciously trying to be more attractive, but I definitely thought it would earn me respect if I could keep up. I think knowing my limits would have been more respectable, but I didn't think my limits would increase if I didn't push them, and I was desperately ashamed of my low tolerance (and still somewhat annoyed by it).
However, in my case at least, keeping up with the lads had layers of meaning that are probably missing in LaBrie's sample. For example, the study excluded the 3.7% of respondents who reported a non-heterosexual identification.
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