Bachelorettes Gone Wild?
Wedding Goddess Wisdom
Remember the commercial depicting the bride and her bridesmaids looking mighty tired and slightly guilty, driving down the strip in a limo, and breaking out in laughter amongst themselves over what they had all just experienced? To the observer it would seem the bride and her maids had just had a taste of the kind of pre-wedding fun once reserved for the groom and his guys.
Then the classic voice over: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas ...
Or does it?
One researcher went behind the scenes a few years ago to explore the truth about what happens when a bride-to-be and her friends get a little wild right before the big day.
Dr. Beth Montemurro, assistant professor of sociology at Penn State's Abington Campus, documented her findings in the journal Sexuality and Culture in the article "Sex Symbols: The Bachelorette Party as a Window to Change in Women's Sexual Expression."
She interviewed dozens of women and personally attended many bachelorette parties all in the name of attempting to determine the true significance of today’s bachelorette party - especially the sexy ones!
Back in the old days, the Hens and Stags had separate ways to blow off pre-wedding steam and celebrated amongst their own. Ladies had “wedding showers” and men had “bachelor parties” and never the twains would meet.
Bachelor parties were invented as a last night of freedom for a guy about to “be trapped in marriage.” Women didn’t quite share the same mindset when it came to marriage so their celebrations were more about nesting ... up until things began to change around three decades ago.
Many of today’s brides, however, see it as their right and – yes!- responsibility to party as hearty and utilize the same or similar form of entertainment as the traditional bachelor bash.
There is one big difference. While a groom-to-be might get turned on by the sensual dance of a female stripper, brides-to-be and their posse see male strippers more as comical relief … a goof … and a story to tell the girls as work.
According to the researcher, the majority of women tend to view bachelorette parties as an opportunity to satisfy their curiosity, express themselves, and get together with friends, more than as a sexual turn-on. They also see it as a source of humor, as well as an opportunity “to poke fun at men and the idea that men feel it necessary to have a last night of freedom that involves the patronizing of strip clubs."
"I watched as women howled with laughter as their bachelorette/friend was straddled by a dancer,” Montemurro said. “These women seemed to find amusement in the shocked or embarrassed expression on the bride-to-be's face. The association with the stripper as a sex object (or subject) was secondary to his use as a source of humor. It seemed that women were not only mimicking the bachelor party, but that they were mocking it as well.”
Research points to the good news that the popularity of the girls-night-out-before-the-wedding shows that the sexual double standard has lost its power. I think it just goes to show you that in the world of weddings, the bride rules!
Besides, there is nothing wrong with a little stress reduction before the big day, as long as it is fun and empowering.
Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is an interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant and columnist. She creates unique ceremonies for couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and is also widely recognized as a bridal stress expert. She is author of WEDDING GODDESS: A Divine Guide To Transforming Wedding Stress into Wedding Bliss (Perigee Books, May 2005). Visit Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway at WeddingGoddess.com.