I recently went to a hen party. It was my first ever. I was a hen party virgin, if you will. The fact that I’m recently 30 and none of my female friends have got married, I would like to think says something positive about the career minded independent city girls I hang with, but I’m not quite sure what that is.
I viewed this event as some kind of anthropological observation experiment; I’m not sure quite what my views on marriage are let alone my views on hen parties, but I feel instinctively, with my gender equality leanings, that I shouldn’t approve of many of the traditional elements. Such as:
- Penis shaped accoutrements. We had glow in the dark, incredibly anatomically correct glow in the dark penis straws.
- Dress code. Our dress code was 1950s. Now I love dressing up in 50s gear, its fun and feminine and makes me feel damn attractive. But my mind couldn’t help make links to 50s housewifely domesticity and lack of equality in the context of a party to celebrate impending legally approved coupling. I’d like to think the dress code therefore was ironic in some way. I have to, it was my idea after all…
- Mr & Mrs game. The organisers of this cultural extravaganza had done their research asking the groom to be various questions about his bride to be, and then said bride to be had to try and guess his answer. There were harmless questions such as the groom’s favourite colour, to more interesting ones such as when did you first start dating (ok, that may not sound interesting, but the differing answers did provide some controversy) It was all quite tame stuff really. It’s the prizes/punishments that were given which caught my interest. Prizes = sex related gifts. Punishment = Straight up stomach churning shots of sambuca.
So firstly, the whole sex thing (including those wonderful willy straws). Generally I imagine, it would be frowned upon for a group of women to walk around showing such open interest in sexuality. But the one time its ok, is when your about to get married. It’s like society says now you are to be a wife you are allowed to acknowledge that you have a sexual identity, and might actually like and want sex with your partner. Now I don’t particularly want to walk around at anytime with balloons made into cocks, or anatomically accurate penis straws (with an unnecessary amount of veins). But there seems something weird to me about the only time when women can celebrate or acknowledge their sexuality without being labelled as a slut, whore, prick tease or other such delightful and value laden phrases, is on a hen party, when it’s ok because she is getting married.
And then of course the bride was forced to drink shots if she got questions wrong. This is probably a wider issue about our culture’s complicated relationship with booze. Now I’m being a complete hypocrite; I drink, sometimes to excess. Sometimes I even say, I want to get completely wasted tonight. But I’m not proud of it, and there’s something a bit sinister about other people trying to get you wasted.
Saying all that, I had a fun time, in the way that I enjoy going out with my girlfriends, having a few drinks, and having a little dance. But I wonder if I get married what I will do about this whole situation, will I have a hen party, what will it be like, what does a feminist hen party even look like? I have no idea. Answers on the back of a post card please…