Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released recommendations for women of childbearing age, which immediately drew backlash for its advice that women of childbearing age who are not on birth control should not consume alcohol. That particular suggestion has drawn quite a bit of anger, and rightfully so: treating all woman of childbearing age as potentially pregnant is incredibly paternalistic. However, it was another piece of information from the CDC’s infographic that compelled us to write this post — that “injuries/violence” are a risk of drinking alcohol.
To put it in the simplest terms, alcohol does not cause violence. Alcohol does not rape, and it does not hit. Abusers and rapists cause violence, not alcohol. Claiming otherwise puts the responsibility for violence onto the victim’s shoulders, as though her decision whether or not to drink is the deciding factor in whether or not she is a victim of violence. Nothing could be further from the truth; it is the abuser’s decision to hurt another person that causes violence. Not alcohol, drugs or anything else. There are many well-document side-effects of drinking alcohol, including impaired judgment, long-term health problems, and a hangover. Violence is not one of the side effects or risks of consuming alcohol. This satirical infographic is a much better way to stop alcohol-related violence — by putting the responsibility on the abuser, not the potential victim.
This isn’t the first time that we have written about victim-blaming. But this time, the victim-blaming is coming from a federal agency, and masquerading as health advice. It is completely wrong, and has no place in any guidance about the health risks of alcohol consumption.
Our society cannot evolve if we continue to blame victims of violence for their own abuse. Join us in calling out the CDC for this misguided “advice,” and in speaking out against victim-blaming in all forms. Working together, we can make a difference!