I always cry at weddings.
Oh, wait, that’s not it. I always drink at weddings. That’s it.
Honestly, weddings are great, and I always have a good time, and there’s really everything to be said for throwing a big party to celebrate the fact that two people have found the person they want to spend the rest of the lives with. Plus, cake!
It’s just that speaking as a single person, it can become emotionally exhausting, when you’re always the one dancing with the groom’s cousin’s eight-year-old kid because everyone else was allowed a +1. And speaking as a single person who doesn’t make a lot of money, yeah, they are expensive. But those minor gripes aside – seriously, I love all you guys. Weddings are magic. They make me believe in people. They make me believe in you. Yes, you, all seven couples whose weddings I’m attending in the next six months of my life (and again, I’m really sorry about the one I can’t make because I’m at another wedding at the same time! You guys are so great together! Big ups to you guys, Victoria and Denny! Take lots of pictures!)
And I’m excited about your bridal shower. And I’m excited about your bachelorette party. And I can’t wait to celebrate you.
But I simply will not do that with a plastic penis on my head.
Or taking a sip from a plastic straw with a penis on it. Or eating a penis-shaped cake. Or wearing a necklace made out of plastic penises. Or taking a shot out of a glass with a penis on it.
You’ve seen all this stuff, right? This is like – I don’t even – ALL OF THESE PRODUCTS EXIST. So many ding-dongs. So few reasons why.
PLUS THIS ONE. WHICH NOW YOU CAN NEVER UN-SEE:
Don’t even get me STARTED on “bachelorette party cakes” on Pinterest. Hint: it auto-suggests adding the word “realistic.” You do NOT want to google the phrase “realistic bachelorette party cake,” let alone eat one. Just trust me on this.
So help me understand the logic of all this nonsense. Truly. Help me understand.
Because is this honestly the narrative we’re supposed to believe?
SERIOUSLY PLEASE HELP ME UNDERSTAND THIS. I don’t get it. I’m going to a bachelorette party this weekend and almost cried with relief when the invite said “There will be no strippers or dicks.” (And it’s being organized by a gay man, who is also the maid of honor, and he likes penises as much as anyone can like a penis. So let’s all agree that just because everyone in the room enjoys penises doesn’t mean that we need to put them all over our baked goods).
Because if the goal really is to see a strange dude’s dick before you only look at one specific dick for the rest of your life, then – ok, great! Accomplish that goal. Seriously! Go do it. Go to a strip club or hire a guy to waggle it around, whatever, if that’s what you’re into.
And if you find the idea of a strange wang in your face unappealing, then, ok, that’s great too! You can do plenty of other things to celebrate. Don’t hire a stripper. Don’t hit on some dude at a bar surrounded by your drunk, giggling friends. Just don’t do any of that.*
But don’t try and tell me that this creepy no-man’s-land of plastic genitalia is the best compromise we can come up with.
Because it’s fueled by something a little murkier and more complicated than maybe we’re willing to admit.
Here’s the cliché, right? Dudes go to strip clubs. They get lap dances. They throw dollar bills at actual women who are showing their actual body parts.
Women dress in outfits that are more revealing than they would normally wear. They wear matching sashes or headbands, penis-adorned or otherwise, to convey to the public that they are traveling as a unit, that it is a special occasion, that they “normally wouldn’t do a thing like this.”
And then, unless there’s a part of this I’m missing, it’s not really about them seeing another dude’s skin parts at all.
Look, I’m hardly a champion of strip clubs. But I have to admit, there’s a straightforward logic to the male experience that makes sense to me. If a guy wants to look at another lady’s body parts, he pays for it. Simple as that. And it’s a legal, socially accepted activity to participate in, so much so that it’s now seen as a ritualized bonding experience. Just a bunch of dudes sitting around and paying for everybody to enjoy looking at a naked lady. Does that squick me out a little? Yup. But still. Straightforward. Uncomplicated.
If you’re a woman, though … well.
We only get a version of that. We get a cheap plastic representation of the real thing. We get a safe, disembodied sexual object, that in no way is representative of an actual sexual encounter. We don’t actually become aroused by any of this stuff – why would you? That’s not really the point. Those plastic wangdoodles are mostly designed to communicate how silly and outlandish male genitalia is, how sexually free these women wearing them are. (And yeah. Penises are hilarious! They are really weird looking! See also: vaginas are super weird looking, breasts are super weird looking, balls are super weird looking. All of our naked parts are really weird looking. Imagine a world where we just acknowledged it all and moved on).
Most of those parties don’t involve an actual sexual experience. Most of the women running around with those plastic dongs? They don’t go home with men at the end of the night. They don’t kiss strangers at the bar. And when they do? There’s still an element of stigma or shame attached. Hey you guys, remember when Chrissy got so drunk at that bachelorette party that she went home with that dude? Wow, we sure were crazy that night, can’t believe that happened, wonder how she’s doing, that big slut!
Let’s do some quick gender reversal here: if I walked past a group of grown men wearing plastic vaginas around their necks, I’d be kind of weirded out and feel icky. You probably would, too.
It would be extra weird if that same bunch of dudes, while wearing glittery light-up vagina accessories, were rocking skimpy outfits and drunkenly stumbling down busy streets yelling WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Right? That would be super weird.
So why are we so cool with this when large groups of women do it?
And I want to believe it’s because we’ve progressed so far in our liberal-minded society that women are expressing their sexual freedom in a way that is empowering. But I just can’t get behind that somehow. If it was truly empowering, I don’t know that we would have built so many excuses into the tradition, so many ways of telling the general public we’re really nice girls, it’s just our one night to act on our wild impulses, we would normally never do something like this.
If you want to look at a penis, then look at a penis. You don’t need a plastic crown to give you permission.
(And besides. That dick crown really does make you look stupid.)
(And besides also. Do you really need to have one “final hurrah” to sow your wild oats? I’m sowing ’em right now, and it’s exhausting. Dating sucks. I thought we all agreed on that. I can’t wait to be in the kind of long-term relationship where I can roll over in bed and look at a man I love and quietly think, I am so glad that yours is the only penis I will ever see again.)
So listen up. If I ever get married, take notes, those of you who will be in charge of this thing: I want to rent a cabin in the woods somewhere with a bunch of my female / male / gay / straight / whatever friends, and I want a bottle of really nice bourbon to share, and I want to sit outside by a fire and look at the stars. That’s it. And I’ll help pay for it, because that only seems reasonable. It’s my party, after all. And all of our clothes are staying on, unless the cabin has a hot tub, in which case – well, let’s just say, sorry, future husband – what happens at the bachelorette party stays at the bachelorette party. **
*TRUE STORY: I had some friends who went to a bachelorette party where the activity was a “group burlesque lesson.” Ok, awesome! A bunch of ladies learning a fun, sexy fitness activity. No plastic dongles involved. They said it was a great time right up until the burlesque instructor took a moment mid-lesson to adjust her colostomy bag and everything kind of went downhill from there.
**I meant skinny-dipping. In case that wasn’t clear. If we all see a little of each other’s business, so be it — they’re just bodies, after all. Come on.