Alcohol and sex are clearly related. Alcohol can effect perceptions about sexual desire. It can also effect the way we view other people.
Alcohol and Sex
There are many myths about the effects of alcohol on our bodies and emotions. Sexual behavior associated with alcohol may be more a result of our beliefs than of the alcohol we consume.
Research shows that men become physically more sexually aroused when they think they have been drinking alcohol. This is true even when they haven’t consumed any.
Women report feeling more sexually aroused when they falsely believe they’ve been drinking alcohol. Yet measurement shows that they actually become less physically aroused.
Thus, much sexual behavior associated with alcohol may be more a result of our beliefs than of the alcohol we consume. What we think is more important than what we drink.
It’s a myth that alcohol disinhibit our brains. Our society believes that alcohol acts to disinhibit us. That’s why people often act disinhibited when intoxicated. But some societies don’t think that intoxication disinhibits people. In those societies, people don’t act disinhibited when intoxicated.
It’s largely our culture and our beliefs that connect alcohol with sex. People sometimes use this belief to justify their unacceptable behaviors. ‘I didn’t do it. It was the alcohol.’
Alcohol and Sex (Gender)
Alcohol and sex has another meaning. It also can refer to the proportion of drinkers among males and females.
Much research on drinking in different cultures has been done. The results are consistent around the world. A higher proportion of men drink. And a higher proportion drink more often and in higher quantities than do women. Of course, many men abstain and many women drink very heavily. But the pattern still holds.
Research has also looked at trends over time. The results are much less clear. In general, it appears that the consumption gap between men and women and men has been declining gradually over time.
Many other factors in addition to gender can influence drinking. They include socio-economic status, and religious affiliation. Also age, ethnicity, race, region of residence, occupation, and many others.
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- MacAndrew, C., and Edgerton R. Drunken Comportment: A Social Explanation. Chicago: Aldine, 1969
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- Ortner, C., et al. Alcohol intoxication reduces impulsivity. Alcoh Alcoh, 2003, 38, 151-156.