Young women are increasingly heading out on the town with the intention of getting drunk, leaving some of them at risk of harm, forensic psychologist Dr Gavan Palk says.
Dr Palk, a senior lecturer in psychology at Queensland University of Technology, is one of the first experts to research the social motivations behind the increase in drinking among young women.
Similar research has been conducted in the UK and other countries, but already Dr Palk has identified a greater incidence of violence among young Australian women drinkers.
“Australia has a greater number of large-scale pubs and clubs which are providing a venue for ladette-style behaviour,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
“There have been attempts to reduce the incidences of violence, but over the long term it seems the only thing that works to reduce alcohol-related violence is to reduce the number of drinking hours.”
Dr Palk, who has also investigated attitudes to drinking among women and men aged 18 to 25, said men continued to out-drink women, but their rates of consumption were in decline.
But young women were increasing their use of alcohol, and the social rituals around it.
“Australian men have traditionally gathered in bars, with friends and gained a sense of identity from this.
“Now, young Australian women are doing the same. Many of the self-confessed ladettes that we interviewed don’t perceive that they are trying to act like men, but that they are taking advantage of the social freedoms of the past 20 or 30 years.”
He said young women felt they deserved and were entitled to have fun and headed out determined to do so.
“Often this involves pre-drinks at home, to save money, and unfortunately studies show these are the drinkers likely to drink more in total, and at most risk of suffering injury or assault.”
Dr Palk will discuss his research atthe Australian Psychological Society College of Forensic Psychology National Conference in Noosa this weekend.