Stigma and delight

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					 Stigma and delight

      Dr. Patsy Staddon
    University of Plymouth
Escaping from social expectations
             is fun
   ‘…I absolutely love feeling……well, drunk!’ (research

   I’ve got friends who do exactly that [so I] just go
    out and let my hair down and get drunk and
    dance around for hours (research respondent)
   ‘Being drunk … it’s a brazen refusal to be quiet,
    well-behaved and ladylike ... Femininity ... relies
    on, is defined by, inhibition’ (Lawson 2000).
     Why alcohol presents a special
•   Our legalised drug of choice
•   Public health model of how to use it attempts to
    limit its role in social life (Hunt and Barker 2001)
•   It may be presented as potential enemy of
    ‘health’ and ‘order’
•   Particular fears expressed for ‘safety’ of young
    women who get drunk
•   Shaming and stigmatising of this group in Press
    and in treatment
Distaste at ‘unfeminine’ loss of
    Enjoyment of alcohol includes
     relaxing of usual constraints
 Most cultures recognise role of substances
 But all limit who can use them and how
 Greatest freedom to use likely to be given
  to most powerful group (e.g. men)
 Least likely to be young females
 Problematic as they acquire greater
  independence and access to substances
So: DH message: ‘Safe, sensible,
  social’…attempts persuasion
            Misses the point!
•   Getting drunk offers women escape
    from iconic role, in which:
•     Less freedom to act out
•     Denied equal moral worth (Lewis 2009)
•     Greater stigmatisation of any
•   Self-empowerment or ‘severity of
    engagement’ ?
             Stigma as social control
•   Deviant behaviour may be called
•   ‘Mutual aid model’ of treatment:
    internalised moral opprobrium
•   Functions as lay explanation of
    ‘unsuitable behaviour’ (Rogers and Pilgrim 2010)
•   Belief systems have enormous power
    over how we see mental health (Beresford
    2005) and substance use (Staddon 2005)

•   Treatment as retribution (Hannah-Moffat 2001)
      Pleasure in defiance and self-
    acknowledgement—even delight?
•   ‘I think I do sometimes see it as allowing
    me to access something that’s not
    necessarily accessible otherwise’ (research

•   ‘’spose it’s a place of my own’ (research

•   ‘Me tits was all hanging out…but I know I’d
    go for it again’ (research respondent)
             In conclusion
 Escaping from social expectations is fun
 Alcohol helps but seeing certain groups
  doing so creates unease
 Who will look after the shop?
 Health fears and stigma as social control
 But the fun still beckons….
   Beresford, P. (2005) ‘Social Approaches to Madness and Distress: User Perspectives
    and User Knowledges’, Social Perspectives in Mental Health, ed. Tew, J., London:
    Jessica Kingsley
   Hannah-Moffatt, K. (2001) Punishment in Disguise: Penal Governance and Federal
    Imprisonment of Women in Canada. Toronto: Toronto University Press.
   Hunt, G. and Barker, J.C. (2001) ‘Socio-cultural anthropology and alcohol and drug
    research: towards a unified theory’, Social Science and Medicine 53 pp.165–188.
   Lawson, N. (2000) ‘I drink, therefore I am’, Observer, Sunday November 12, 2000.
   Lewis, L. (2009) ‘Politics of recognition: what can a human rights perspective
    contribute to understanding users’ experiences of involvement in mental health
    services?’ Social Policy and Society 8 (2) pp. 257-274.
   Rogers, A. and Pilgrim, D. (2010) ‘Stigma revisited and lay representations of mental
    health problems’, A sociology of mental health and illness, 4th ed., Maidenhead: Open
    University Press.
   Staddon, P. (2005) ‘Labelling Out: The Personal Account of an Ex-Alcoholic Lesbian
    Feminist’, in Ettorre, E. (ed.) (2005) Making Lesbians Visible in the Substance Use
    Field. New York: The Haworth Press.

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