Watch out women of Western, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is out to harsh your mellow.
In a report released on Feb. 2, the CDC presented a case for alcohol and pregnancy in America today. The way they said it however, could have gone over better.
The infographic seemed to push a lifestyle for women that hinged entirely upon the chance of a possible baby, suggesting that women who are not currently taking birth control cease drinking entirely. The information was seen as condescending, insulting and overbearing, prompting many news organizations to pen negative responses.
The issue here is that many saw a common idea represented in this report: the idea that a woman is solely responsible for the actions that are perpetrated against her.
Then there’s the idea that a woman is walking potential baby-carrier first, functioning person second. There was no mention to men against alcohol abuse.
When ideas like this are continually perpetuated the opinion remains in the public sphere, and while it may seem a small thing, shouldn’t we strive to discuss issues in our best way possible?
So CDC, you aren’t wrong. You just aren’t going about this the best way.
The issue at stake with the CDC’s report is certainly a valid one. The statistics presented show that more than 3 million U.S. women are at risk of developing a baby with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and that all of these cases are preventable. You can hardly blame the CDC for the sentiment, but their methods certainly fall short.
The CDC’s principal deputy director Anne Schuchat defended the advice, following the online controversy. She did, however, concede that the message certainly could have been phrased better. This is the issue at stake here.
There are plenty of things that can potentially happen to you during your lifetime. You have a 1 in 3,748,067 chance of being attacked by a shark. Train wreck? 1 in 156,169. Then there are things that can actually kill you like heart disease: 1 in 5 odds.
Regardless of the possibility, however, we certainly don’t swaddle ourselves in blankets and hide indoors for the rest of our lives. Certainly no person really needs to consume alcohol, but to suggest that all women who have the possibility to conceive cease drinking is an unrealistic ideal.
The better option? Educate yourselves, make your own decisions. There are no blanket statements of health that apply to everyone, and issues like this are incredibly important for college-aged students to know and understand. Not only the subject matter, but how we talk about it.
As college students, we can assume that our consumption of alcohol may be higher than other groups, sometimes bordering on reckless. Reports like this are of the utmost importance for the age group present at Western, but we are also the trendsetters in terms of what is socially appropriate.
Our interpretations of how we want to talk about issues of importance will resonate with the rest of the country. When reports like this echo the idea that women are to blame for everything to occurs against them, we are effectively allowing those ideas to exist, and this cannot stand.
Take a stand on issues that relate to your life and don’t allow bad opinions to propagate. We have the power to shape how we will talk about issues for years to come.