When a friend of mine announced that her boyfriend was off in Montreal at a hockey game and steak dinner during a bachelor party weekend, the men at our table snickered -- as in, "You got that old line?" It turned out that's what her boyfriend and his buddies actually did. The men, who were in their 30s, apparently were bored of the stripper scene and wanted to have what they considered real fun.
The Wall Street Journal claims that men who prefer this less hormonally charged event are part of a new trend in which bachelor-party-goers prefer bonding over fine wines and foreign travel to spending hundreds of dollars for lap dances that go nowhere and prove nothing (subscription required).
"For many men, the machismo of living extra-well, and spending extra-freely, has replaced the last wild night out as a demonstration of manly prowess and, perhaps, a token of what may soon be lost," writes Mark Oppenheimer in his article titled "Boys Gone Not So Wild." He quotes several men who recall bachelor parties consisting of wine tasting, salmon fishing, hiking and dining. The author considered eating a scrambled quail egg at the posh New York restaurant Per Se as going "over the top." The biggest advantage of such activities is that they got a chance to actually talk instead of just party, he writes.
It's funny to lampoon today's generation of genteel, pampered men more interested in tasting menus than pasties. But Oppenheimer makes a good point: "More often than men would like to admit, bachelor parties happen at strip clubs because that's what our culture has expected of men," he writes. He's right. The bachelor party has become so ritualized that it makes sense that men may want something other than the straitjacket of nonstop drinking, ogling and gambling that constitutes many parties.
At a recent bachelorette party in Las Vegas, my girlfriends and I attended the "Thunder From Down Under" male revue show -- during which we downed margaritas and hooted at the most ridiculous display of male beefcake. And we spent the rest of the night getting massages and chatting about past loves, friendship and family. When Oppenheimer and his guests ended their evening yakking about similar subjects, one friend derided it as the "sensitive man's bachelor party."
While it was perfectly acceptable for us girls to spend the weekend sunning and going to outlet malls, men face all this pressure to beat their chests just because one of them is getting married. And as Oppenheimer points out, it's not like this is the last time they'll see another naked woman -- not in this culture anyway.