According to the popular press in the mid twentieth century, American women, in a misguided attempt to act like men in work and leisure, were drinking more. “Lady Lushes” were becoming a widespread social phenomenon. From the glamorous hard-drinking flapper of the 1920s to the disgraced and alcoholic wife and mother played by Lee Remick in the 1962 film “Days of Wine and Roses,” alcohol consumption by American women has been seen as both a prerogative and as a threat to health, happiness, and the social order.
In Lady Lushes, medical historian Michelle L. McClellan traces the story of the female alcoholic from the late-nineteenth through the twentieth century. She draws on a range of sources to demonstrate the persistence of the belief that alcohol use is antithetical to an idealized feminine role, particularly one that glorifies motherhood. Lady Lushes offers a fresh perspective on the importance of gender role ideology in the formation of medical knowledge and authority.