Bachelorette Versus Bachelor Parties: What Do They Say About Us?
The significance of biting into a penis cake vs. ogling strippers.
Last weekend I partook in the time-honored tradition of biting into a slice of penis cake, AKA a bachelorette party. I’d looked forward to celebrating one of my BFFs, catching up with old friends, and, of course, mainlining Champagne. And the experience did not disappoint. But ever since, I’ve been thinking about the difference between how men and women celebrate this last hooray and what it says about us.
Last Saturday kicked off with a burlesque lesson, wherein we girls donned spandex and learned to flaunt our shiz with a boa and satin gloves. Similarly, at another party I attended awhile back, we learned to shimmy down a pole and strut in our platforms at a strip tease class. Many bachelorette parties have been known to include sex workshops like a blowjob tutorial (bananas included). And gifts to the bride often include lingerie and sex toys. While there is no question that we gals are learning these tricks of the, ahem, trade because we want to feel sexy, these activities share a commonality—they are all intended to turn men on.
As for male strip clubs, I’m aware that many a bride takes a detour to old Chippendales on her way to the altar. But the consensus among the ladies I know seems to be that watching oiled-up pecks and flaccid members has about the same appeal as tucking into a plate of raw chicken. Or at the very best, is good for a laugh. I would also dare say that there is a component of “women trying to act like men” or even competition when we venture to exotic man land. I’ve witnessed women unleashing testosterone fueled cheers of “Take it all off!!!” that frankly seemed a little more soccer coach than sultry. Or maybe that was just me…
Nonetheless, the reasons for our male-gaze-oriented behavior seem clear enough. We live in a culture where we are largely socialized that men do the looking and women do the getting looked at. Whether this is a completely nature or nurture issue is hard to say. But any mom who’s seen their 5-year-old daughter strut to “All The Single Ladies” will probably argue that nurture plays a fairly large part in this.
As a third, fourth, or whatever wave feminist I am—I don’t have a problem with women wanting to celebrate their sexuality by being viewed as sexy. We know that we have more than T&A to offer society, duh. Personally, as I’ve grown into myself I feel more comfortable with the notion that feeling desired ignites my desire. Sex will always be about power to some extent. And there’s no doubt that feeling sexy is powerful stuff.
But there is also a downright pragmatic element to the way we girls seem to be celebrating our nuptials. It would seem that while men are celebrating their last night of female-ogling (or more) singledom, we gals are planning for the future. Presumably our bump and grind techniques are giving us tools to spice up the honeymoon and keep things fresh in the long run. And in this sense, I wonder if the boys could perhaps take a tip from us. How many bachelor parties do you know that have included a “She Comes First” workshop? I can’t say I’ve heard of one. I’ve certainly never heard of a strip tease class for men. Come to think of it, one where men learn to strip their clothes into the laundry bin might be seriously helpful.
Alas, I would expect this suggestion to be met with eye rolls and groans. Who knows, maybe in twenty years all us gals will find male strip clubs sexy. Wrangling up some better talent might help… In the meantime, I’ll be stripping my way through bachelorette parties picturing Paul Walker. Scratch that, picturing his cerulean eyes undressing me.
Emily Southwood is working on a memoir called Prude and blogs at imarriedapornographer.com. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Emily is the author of the “I Married a Pornographer” series on BettyConfidential.