Four in five women who answered a survey about bachelorette party behavior reported that they drank an average of five drinks on the day of the celebration – meaning many engaged in binge drinking, defined for women as four drinks in two hours.
Some research suggests women at these parties try to “drink like a guy” to earn positive attention from men.
“Bachelorette parties are a prime example of this culture. They have become a rite of passage where women encourage each other to become publicly drunk and participate in sexualized behavior,” says Cynthia Buettner, associate professor of human sciences at The Ohio State University and lead author of the new survey study.
The research, a rare look at bachelorette party culture, is published in the Journal of Substance Use.
Buettner said there could be a bright spot: The wedding season might actually provide an opportunity to warn young women about the risks of binge drinking and recommend ways to stay safe while partying. For example, a public service campaign could be centered around a few protective strategies, such as avoiding drinking games, using a designated driver and making a group agreement to monitor everyone’s alcohol intake.
“The study indicates that many women in these party settings are already inclined to think of safety plans, meaning the promotion of additional protective behaviors might be a way to mitigate the consequences of heavy drinking,” Buettner says.
She collected responses from 122 females, average age 25, who had attended at least one bachelorette party in the previous year. More than 80 percent had at least a bachelor’s degree.
Among the findings: Eighty percent attended parties in public locations, and among those, just over half reported that organizers had made safety plans for the night. Almost a quarter of the sample reported that underage women attended the party.
With additional statistical analysis, researchers found that attendees consumed significantly more alcohol at parties that were held in public locations and attended by larger numbers of partiers.
Having a safety plan was associated with a lower likelihood that attendees would drive drunk. At parties described by respondents as “wild,” drunk driving was more likely to occur.
Atika Khurana of the University of Oregon was a co-author on the paper.
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