Can there be a feminist politics of drinking? Alcohol harms and home drinking experiments

Event status:

Professor Helen Keane, a person with short grey hair, black cat's-eye glasses, navy top, necklace and red lipstick ARCSHS invites you to a research and practice seminar with Professor Helen Keane, exploring women's drinking in terms of narcofeminist acts of resistance, harms, empowerment, the transformative role of drugs in queer culture and a trillion dollar global industry.

Wednesday 21 September 2022 04:00 pm (Add to calendar)
Dr Alexandra James & Dr Tom Norman
Presented by:
Professor Helen Keane
Type of Event:
Current Student: Undergraduate; Current Student: Postgraduate; Forum/symposium; Public Lecture; Public

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Can there be a feminist politics of drinking? Alcohol harms and home drinking experiments

The starting point of this presentation is narcofeminism, an activist movement that insists on the right of women to use psychoactive substances and is invested in the political potential of drug consumption as a mode of resistance (Chang, 2021). Narcofeminism has focused on illicit drugs and the repressive drug policies that criminalise users and exacerbate harm especially for the most marginalised. But is it possible to think about women’s drinking from this perspective? In contrast to most other forms of drug use, drinking is not only socially acceptable, it is part of the performance of successful empowered femininity (at least in many cultural contexts and within certain boundaries). What does a narcofeminist politics look like in relation to a form of psychoactive consumption which profits a trillion-dollar global industry? Can we develop an account of women’s drinking that recognises its generative potential while also remaining aware of its potential harms? I explore these questions through a case study of the ‘drinking at home woman’, a feminised problem subject who appeared in the Australian media in stories about lockdown drinking.  My discussion is inspired in part by the research on sexualised drug use and experimentation which highlights the transformative role of drugs in queer cultures (Pienaar et al. 2020; Race et al. in press). Can more mundane and normalised forms of consumption also be considered transformative technologies of the self?

About Professor Helen Keane

Helen Keane is Professor of Sociology at the Australian National University. Her research focuses on social and cultural aspects of drug and alcohol use and she has a particular interest in addiction studies. Most recently, she has worked on a project investigating gender, violence and alcohol policy led from ARCSHS by David Moore. She is the co-author of Habits: Remaking Addiction with Suzanne Fraser and David Moore (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). This work builds on her earlier work What’s Wrong with Addiction? (New York University Press, 2002).


This event will be recorded and later published with full captions. A live Auslan interpreter is available on request; please let us know as soon as possible to allow for interpreter bookings.

Online - Zoom Webinar

La Trobe University



31 May 2023 8:58 pm

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