Should strip-club bachelor parties be men-only?

The groom invited his best female friend, but I feel weird about a woman watching my husband watching strippers.

Published August 29, 2007 10:40AM (EDT)

Dear Cary,

My husband's good friend is having a bachelor party. They are going to a strip club, and they're hyped. I've been hearing things on the phone like "One of us is going to end up in jail," and I believe it. Because my husband has been a nice, loyal guy since I met him at 20, I would never worry for the normal reasons a wife might about this bachelor party.

I also didn't mind the gross sexism about a male-only bachelor party, because my husband is not sexist, would never want or request that women not be around. In this case it's just not really his call.

But then I found out that, actually, one woman is attending the party. She's single and unfortunately not gay; she's very straight, a boy-crazy type. She's the groom-to-be's best friend. I love when men have female best friends, but the notion of her watching my husband at a bachelor party creeps me out. I know she'll be enjoying the exclusivity, and it seems like another kind of sexism: Wives are too dorky to attend; typical women can't "hang" with guys viewing naked women.

Am I crazy to think she's going to be putting the wives and girlfriends of these guys down while she watches them watch strippers? Listen, if she were doing the stripping, I'd be fine with that too. But I think it is more of an "I'm cooler than all other women" type of position. I've had guy friends all my life, but I never relished "being one of the boys" or their being somehow "My Boys." (There is a nauseating show titled this. Ugh.) It seems so unnecessarily anti-woman. Thoughts?


Dear Rattled,

The problem is the bachelor party. There is no way you can have any reasonable feelings about the chick at the bachelor party because "bachelor party" negates everything. "Bachelor party" is like "forest fire." It burns everything in sight and takes lots of firefighters to put out.

"Bachelor party" is like "lemonade stand." When you're a kid, you think: "Lemonade stand!" What could be better than "lemonade stand!" Then you get one. Then you know.

After that, when other kids say "lemonade stand," you say "chores" or "to the beach with family" or "Little League."

The "bachelor party" is the male equivalent of a "tea party" at Lovejoy's. Excuse me, I mean Lovejoy's. (I just wanted you to see both links, so you get the full impact.) So it doesn't matter if a woman attends. She'll probably be coming straight from a "tea party."

A bachelor party is a self-negating goodbye to a freedom that never existed. It is an exercise in futility in which futility never breaks a sweat or even gets a corsage. A bachelor party is a cliché, and a cliché is something that exists so many times right next to itself that it disappears into the very pattern that it makes. It is the endless repetition in an endless field.

A "bachelor party" is a starved crowd bereft of passion unable to find itself in the dark. It is a lump of men drunk and unable to unzip their trousers, hugging each other in the parking lot, and saying, I love you, dude, wishing they could set fire to their hair but having no matches because you can't even smoke in a strip club anymore.

So a chick is going to a bachelor party and you're wondering how to feel. Well, how do you feel about lame, inconsequential gestures? How do you feel about things that don't matter at all?

And this is the cruel torture of the bachelor party, indeed of the entire wedding celebration, that faux panoply of lost nonexistent virtue and innocence, and lost nonexistent freedom and virility: You are cordially requested to feel something utterly vacuous and inconsequential, and this puts you in the cruel position of either admitting that 99 percent of your life is like tearing the covers off remaindered Danielle Steel romance novels, or continuing with the cheery and upbeat fiction that you manufactured in high school so as not to have everybody looking at you like you're a scary freak. So in trying to go along with the bullshit, you end up in the kind of lame, vaguely nonexistent haze that drives you to put your finger in the candle flame or start cutting parallel lines across your calf just so you can feel something, anything, that is not three-quarters bullshit.

Admit it: You don't really feel anything at all about this bachelor party, except what we usually feel when instructed by our electronic social minders to feel something vacuous and lame about something vacuous and lame: What we feel, actually, is vague anxiety: We are vaguely aware that there are some social requirements we are not meeting. We're vaguely aware that we are not sure what those requirements are. We're vaguely aware that it is utter bullshit but also vaguely aware that there are grim consequences for noticing and announcing it. We don't even know what the consequences are. We just know there will be consequences.

So we walk outside the wedding tent into the night and sit down on an old log and look up at the sky and dig deep down, trying to remember a time when we were truly alive, and we realize that living in absurdity and not voicing it has left a grimy, gray film over existence that normal detergents cannot clean. You need a fire, or a scream, or a poem.

He is going to a bachelor party. You have said, "That's cool. I'm cool with that." But it's so outrageously lame it makes you want to set fire to the couch. But you are so used to going, That's cool, that it will take you a few minutes to realize that you really want to set fire to the couch. So remove all the matches from the house before you really start thinking about this.

A chick is going to be at the bachelor party, but that doesn't matter either because the bachelor party doesn't matter and she can't do anything anyway because she ceases to exist when she enters the bachelor party because the bachelor party is like temporary black hole. The only difference -- and this is the lamest thing of all -- is that the black hole is not even a real black hole, just a temporary black hole, like one of those bounce houses set up on the crabgrass for a kid's party.

So mix a few drinks, watch some reruns of "Dallas" and try not to kill yourself. Get a paperback of "Being and Nothingness" and start reading it, and fall asleep on the couch so when he comes home he finds you passed out on the couch with about six glasses on the table, the "Dallas" episodes long ended and by now an episode of "Magnum, P.I." blaring on the television, and the copy of "Being and Nothingness" open on your breast.

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