I think my friend Greta said it best when she said, “I don’t get it, guys get to go to strip clubs and we get to drink things out of plastic dicks?”
We’re talking bachelor parties. I should point out that the word “bachelorette” isn’t recognized by spellcheck. However, neither is “spellcheck” (it’s “spell check,” apparently). Dan had an informal bachelor party when a pre-planned trip to Vegas happened less than a month after our engagement. When he went, I knew there would be a visit to a strip club. So what? I’m perfectly comfortable with that. Sure, it’s sex work, and sure it’s commodifying women, but it’s not bad bad. Or so I thought.
When Dan returned home to our sunny apartment and willingly answered all of my questions (how many lap dances being the main one, the answer being two), I flew into a wounded rage. Not because I think being gently ground against by a women in a sparkly swimsuit bottom is cheating but because no such option exists for me.
Please allow me a brief sidenote: I have a friend who’s a successful professional in a buttoned-up field. She was a stripper for two years. (This is a secret.) I’ve asked her a lot of questions. She said the bottom line (no pun intended) was being a stripper is a terrible job. The money is addictive, but everything else is depressing and dehumanizing. She emphasized that it was-even if there was no actual sex-sex work.
I mention this because I appreciate that women who are strippers are just doing their jobs. There’s a market for it, and for a lot of young women it’s a well-paying form of employment. But I resent that there is no female equivalent. There’s no place for women to go to get tantalized. It might be sexy to go to a dance club and grind against strangers but that’s different. That’s not a transaction.
My sister once wanted to open a business that catered to female erotic thrills, but we couldn’t quite figure out what that would entail. Flirtatious banter? Having someone tickle the back of your legs? Is this a personal preference issue? Maybe what I find titillating leaves other women cold or uncomfortable.
When it came time to plan my bachelorette party I said, “Let’s go away for the weekend.” I could have forgone the whole thing but, like all things wedding related, it’s personal and, personally, I wanted a weekend with my friends. After all, I have remarkable friends. The week Dan and I got engaged, they came to L.A. and surprised us. That is, they flew to L.A. and rang our doorbell at 8 a.m. with a dozen donuts and three bottles of champagne. They scraped and cashed in miles and flew standby to celebrate in person. I’m getting teary just thinking of it.
So, last weekend 16 of my closest friends (and my dearest maid of honor/best friend/sister) and I went to the blast furnance that is Palm Desert for the weekend. I made the announcement early on that I did not want any penis hats, no penis veils, or penis straws.
Even though it was 112 degrees in the desert, my friends looked for activities we could do other than submerge ourselves in the pool. A pole-dancing class was discovered. My sister’s response: “When Dan and company go away they get to watch strippers. When we go away we have to be strippers. What the hell? Men get to enjoy paying for erotic thrills, and our fun activity is learning to be more efficient providers of erotic thrills, i.e. sex workers?”
But my friends decided we should go-I love to dance, have a historic interest in Burlesque, like taking classes, and enjoy some erotic fitness. The class turned out to be completely without raunch and rather serious. It was more like a dimly lit basic jazz class. Actually, not even. Jazz classes generally have more pelvic thrusts than this did. Still, it was a lot of fun. So was drinking a lot, talking, grilling, swimming.
I had one of the most fun weekends of my life. Seriously. We made headpieces. (Everyone on Etsy should worry, we are incredible.) We went to a fabulous dinner , then to a strange Palm Springs dance club. We had singalongs and all my dear friends toasted me and Dan. Best weekend ever. We had our own take on bachelorette-ness and it was perfect for me, just perfect. But the larger issue looms: Culturally, why is the period before the wedding a time for men to be “naughty” and for women to service … anatomy straws? In our case we threw out tradition-Dan felt guilty, and I didn’t use a straw.
Read the next installment in Bridget’s wedding countdown here .
Photograph courtesy of Bridget Moloney.