Sick on a Sunday

The delinquency of minors: boys vs. girls

Posted in Random Rants by jamiemarie on July 16, 2009

My sister’s 18th birthday is this month.  Consequently, a lot of my feelings about her going out and partying have come to light.  It’s amazing how they contrast with my feelings about partying with the boyfriend’s 19-year-old brother.  And, now that I think about it, I don’t think this is just me.  There are some stark contrasts between how we think about underage girls drinking and how we feel about boys doing the same thing.  Ironically, girls at that age tend to be more “mature” than the boys do – let’s just say I’ve never known a girl to drunkenly punch through a wall.  You’d think they’d do it more responsibly and we could worry less.  But we don’t. 

The boyfriend’s little brother just turned 19.  He frequently recruits his brothers to purchase several 30-packs of Natty Light for him and his friends.  If his brothers aren’t around, he uses their old IDs.  The little brother is probably 2″ taller than one brother, and 3″ shorter and 100lbs lighter than the other.  Aside from that one time at Medieval Times, he has never had a problem using either of their IDs.

My 24th birthday was in the midst of finals and comprehensive masters program exams, so although my Driver’s License expired, I was pretty lax about renewing it.  So for a few weeks, I used my expired one.  Although it was only a few weeks expired, I am the same height I was when I was 19 and got the old one, and it was my own fucking ID, I almost always had problems using it.

What’s going on here?  Why are people less likely to serve me booze – when I actually look 24 and my ID has only been expired a week – than him?  I have a really hard time believing it’s because they’re less likely to believe me.  I think people – consciously or not – are irrationally concerned not with underage drinking, but female underage drinking.  

This backfires like crazy.  Think about it this way – he has no problem finding booze or places to go buy it.  Thinking back to when I was that age, I can remember tons of super sketchy situations my friends and I ended up in trying to buy booze.  On more than one occasion, I know we sat around the Ralphs parking lot waiting for some 25-year-old dude to buy us liquor.  How unsafe is that?!  

The last time my sister hung out with a big group of my friends was my 23rd birthday when we all went to a baseball game.  She and our brother (who is 2 years younger than her) hung out together and hardly spoke to me or my friends.  The last time I hung out with her friends was her graduation, and I’d hardly call that “hanging out”.

The last time the little brother hung out with a group of his brothers’ friends was last weekend.  The last time they hung out with his was probably the week before.  Shit, the last time I hung out with them was probably the week before.  I have played beer pong and kings cup with this kid without thinking twice.  I gave my sister a few glasses of white wine at a cousin’s wedding once, and it was a big occasion.  

The little brother recently showed up at one of my friend’s parties, and no one cared.  Two 18-year-old girls showed up and we’re still making a big deal about it, “What were those two girls doing there?” and so on.  I would not have wanted my sister there, but didn’t mind the little brother there.

So why are we so nonchalant about contributing to his delinquency and so paranoid about contributing to hers?  You might suggest that it’s because it’s my own sister.  But then why don’t his older brother’s give a shit, if it’s out of concern for a sibling and not the gender dichotomy?

Yesterday, I asked my sister what she was planning for her birthday and when she didn’t know, I mentioned that our dad is going to be out of town for a good three weeks – she should have people over.  

She jumped at the idea and I started to panic.  My little sister?  Getting drunk?  At my dad’s house?  I became super protective and started panicking about being asked to buy booze and suddenly being responsible for the party.  What if the cops come?  What ifher friends’ (or worse, my own) parents hold me accountable?  Then again, she’s almost an adult – why do I feel personally responsible?

Probably because my parents don’t really acknowledge that she’s 10 days away from adulthood.  In fact, my mom went camping this week and is having me call my sister nightly to check up on her and make sure she’s okay and doesn’t need anything, etc. etc.  She knows she can’t get into any trouble because it’s the middle of the week and my sister has  job. 

Ironically, my parents were gone pretty much the entire summer after I graduated high school and my friends – accompanied by large bottles of Captain Morgan – pretty much just moved in.  Nothing seriously terrible ever went down.  The cops never even came once (I guess I don’t have enough friends to make a party worth breaking up).  Then I went to college at a well-known party school.  What, in my personal experience, makes me think that my almost-18-year-old sister isn’t capable of handling herself or her booze?

I’m going to play the society card here.  I survived my years of underage drinking.  My sister is smart and responsible.  Most importantly – I’m clearly not concerned with underaged boys drinking.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So what does this all mean?  Is it bad that people are so concerned about young women binge drinking?  Not in the purest sense, I guess.  But it seems really unfair to underestimate their savvy and ability to take responsibility for themselves.  And doesn’t it seem counterproductive to be so protective that they’re less likely to be able to fend for themselves?

It also seems unfair to be so careless about the boys.  What are the consequences of letting them do whatever they want and casually shrugging it off as “boys will be boys”?  They’re more likely to get DUIs, more likely to get injured, etc. etc. And yet, we shrug this off.

Maybe treating girls and boys differently isn’t such a great idea.  Especially when it’s so ingrained that I don’t even realize when I’m doing it myself.

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