it’s your party and i’ll cry if i want to

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.




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.

19 thoughts on “it’s your party and i’ll cry if i want to

  1. Oh the years that held wedding after wedding after wedding. Ugh, so much money. And for ugly dresses.
    I dunno, I didn’t mind the drinking crazy and penis things, although for me, it was a quiet night in with the girls, beauty control, that sorta thing. I see your points. They’re good points. I do not want to slice a penis cake. (Not nearly as disturbing as slicing the baby cakes at showers though…)
    I am ultimately glad about the penis I chose. 😉

  2. First I like your idea of a cabin in the woods, sitting around a campfire, looking at the stars and passing around the bottle of bourbon. All this brings up a question that just came into my mind: What do nudists do at their bachelor and bachelorette parties? Put clothes on.

  3. Just one bottle won’t begin to cover it.

    Also…the one time I was in charge of a bachelorette, I flew her to Vegas and made her dance with naked men. Now I’m worried I fucked it up.

    • nah. That sounds different. sounds kind of sexy and fun, and my guess is that if she agreed to go to Vegas, she probably wanted to dance with some naked dudes. I’m not saying don’t have a wild crazy good time — (after all this is the blog that became popular with the phrase ‘do whatever the fuck you want!’) I’m just saying, whatever it is that you wanna get down with, just be honest about it. A naked dude in Vegas sounds like a huge turn-on. That plastic dick pinata? Not so much.

  4. What you’re describing is basically an “acceptable” female experience of a bachelor party, a celebration that is equal parts lewd, sanitized, and ridiculous. In other words, bachelorette parties seem to be just as defined by patriarchy as almost anything else to with the institution of marriage. When women celebrate the way they genuinely would like , it isn’t performative. But a group of 20 wearing matching sashes in downtown a Saturday night? That’s pure theatre.

  5. when I had my Hen Party (bachelorette party) I had a picnic next to a river, went on a Ghost Walk and went for an Itallian meal, there were no penises involved!

    The only time I ever went to a hen do with “dare cards” and penises I broke my shoe before it all really started, went back to the hotel and read a book… (it wasn’t actually planned…I liked my shoes)

  6. *throws mass of agreement at you*

    Yes. To, like, all of that. I’ve yet to breach the bachelorette party experience, but hoooooly crap has my facebook feed been a pretty solid stream of engagements/wedding shoes/wedding announcements/wedding photos/post-wedding photos/pre-wedding photos released post-wedding/post-post-wedding photos…

    So. much. wedding.

    I have decided that should I ever get married, we’re all going to the beach and not wearing shoes and eating sandwiches afterwards. Done and done. I assume that any bachelorette party orchestrated will be of similar vibe. I might be asking you about that cabin in the woods and asking for the rental number, actually. =p

  7. First of all, thanks for the much-needed chuckle! I’ve been way too serious for the past few days. That being said…

    I KNOW! That this “stuff” even EXISTS kinda flips me out, too! I honestly had no idea that bachelorette parties had become penis fests; I thought it was only the crazy ladies of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” who thoughts these shindigs should be filled with junk. I feel the need to mumble something along the lines of, “Sorry, I’ve been busy raising my daughter…” to excuse my social ignorance. (Thank you for educating me!)

    The last bachelorette party I attended was held at Chippendales, in NYC. We had our own reserved table and a very attentive server, who was naked from the waist up, with the exception of his bow tie. What I remember most was how much we all laughed at the outrageous “characters” each performance featured. It was as if each of the “Village People” had been given their own time to shine, with a caveman thrown in for good measure. It was the mid-80’s and it was great fun!

    I confess, when I read, “I assume that any bachelorette party orchestrated will be of similar vibe,” in miceala’s comment, my mind went in a different direction. (And I’ll bet I’m not the only one.) I wonder, if a parade of dicks now accompanies the male stripper at a bachelorette party, what new accoutrements would I find at a bachelor’s pre-nuptial celebration? I guess I’ll need to ask my daughter…

  8. GREAT post. I NEVER understood this supposed rite of passage. I’ll even go one further. The ritual of guys ogling a girl, be it a strip club, or some stripper hired for a party (which, let’s face it, is creepy when it’s one stripper and 20 dudes in your buddy’s basement). I went a different route and we all went to a baseball game and hit a few bars afterwards.

    But, then… I’m divorced. So, what the hell do I know. If I wore a plastic vagina would I still be married? (sigh) hindsight, right?

  9. “(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.)”

    This is such a good, thought-provoking post I’ve come back for another reading. To this quote and your point of view on the subject I say a heartfelt “Amen!” The more I learn about popular culture, the more I’m glad I’m an “old hippie,” born in the 50’s.

  10. SO glad I read this one with my office door closed, to hide my laughter and likely ridiculous facial expressions! Can’t unsee the dick glasses… The best bachelorette party I attended was a ladies-only hiking and camping trip in Joshua Tree with lots of wine and very pleasant company. Fun times without plastic genitalia!

  11. I’ve never experienced a “real” bachelorette party! You know, with the mentioned ding-dongs and all 😦 It’s either im from a very conservative place or my friends are just boring. lol

  12. …and once again you manage to take what has bothered me for a loooong time and explain it all in a funny and thought provoking manner. I’m so down with what you find wrong about all of this but whenever I’ve tried to explain myself it just comes out sounding cranky and fun-hating. Both of which I am not!
    However, I’ve returned to a place where all my old friends are already married or dead and my new friends will know up front that I don’t play like that so they won’t ask me to. Hopefully this means more reasonable bachelor/bachelorette celebrations are in my future.

  13. I agree, penis shaped accessories are very over rated!
    I understand why some people want to have them, but it would never be my request to drink from a penis shot glass. I’m planning my sister bachelorette party right now, and nothing resembling a penis is on the shopping list. However, we are looking for a friend to do a little strip tease – just for the amusement factor.

  14. Boy am I glad I stumbled upon this post! I could not agree more. Does anyone think that maybe the general public don’t want your penis paraphernalia all “up in the club”? That shit needs to stop. And thank you for your wonderfully amusing post 🙂 that’s got to be a record for most penises/dicks in one post

  15. Fantastic. Yes yes yes. I went to one two weeks ago and was immediately given a pin (who even wears pins anymore?) in the shape of a penis that said “Bitch of the Bride” on it. Not only is that statement incredibly false, but it was just disgusting. I “lost” my pin after helping the one girl throw up in a plastic bag in the limo. Blah.

    ALSO — because it is my favorite blog post in the entire world and I solidly agree with every word, I shared “Dating and Other Scientific Facts” with my parents when I saw them on Sunday for the first time in a year and a half. We had been talking about choices and how often they are overwhelming… I said I knew of an apropos blog post that described it perfectly, and then read your post to them.

    This then launched into my parents giving me a speech on how I am wonderful and I shouldn’t feel pressured to meet Mr. Right, which I do not feel at all. They then went on to assure me in the self esteem I do not lack, and felt that that was my way of secretly telling them that I was overwhelmed with dating and didn’t want to try internet dating. It was a really humorous and awkward conversation, so thanks for that. 😉

  16. i completely agree. We were made to eat a slice of a penis cake two years back for a friend’s hens night and it still traumatises me. Was wrong on so many levels.

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