Only the geese get to have a gander?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Question

As the youngest person in my sister-in-law's upcoming Vegas wedding, I just got blasted by her maid of honour for "not knowing any better than to allow" my husband to go to a strip club as part of the bachelor party planned for the husband-to-be. Apparently, all the other women in the wedding, except my sister-in-law, were planning to "show a united front" and keep the men from seeing any flesh not their own.

I'm not a rebel or anything but the last thing I expected was every single one of these thirtysomething women to be so freaked out at the thought of their husbands seeing someone else's tits. I recently immigrated to Florida from Canada and these chicks are actually trying to blame my "liberal Canadian upbringing for not knowing any better." I even half-jokingly suggested we all go out to a chick strip club ourselves, so she could see what went on, but the idea seemed to terrify her.

Then I made the mistake of adding, "Besides, you said we were taking M to Chippendales for her bachelorette, right? That's way worse." I had the impression that male strippers, especially at places like Chippendales, tended to get a lot more hands-on than female strippers are generally permitted (or feel comfortable with). They simulate sex acts with women, encourage touching, do a lot of grinding, grabbing and, well, frankly, I think the pot is calling the kettle black here, if she wants to have some oiled-up stranger waggling something in her face while all her husband can do is sit around in his hotel room and think about Maxim and divorce.

She says I'm wrong, that I don't know what I'm talking about, that her party there will be completely innocent, and that male strippers are tame. I just think that if she wants to go and experience the sort of things that will probably happen at that male strip club then she should be honest about it and that it's unfair and unhealthy to prohibit her husband from doing the same. Please tell me I'm not the self-righteous, inexperienced moron she seems to think I am.

— NO WITTY NICKNAME TO BE HAD, SADLY

Answer

Pretty much everything about this situation is fucking ridiculous. (It's true, a liberal upbringing, which all Canadians get, makes a person more ignorant.) But, in my opinion, the most obnoxious thing is the way this group of women is downplaying the complexity of feminine desire as a means of making the equivalent seem all the more deplorable in their menfolk.

Do they really think they're helping themselves in any greater sense by pandering to the idea that female sexual expression and the services geared towards it are trivial and non-threatening, while male sexual expression and its analogous rituals are authentic and therefore require constant policing?

Now, admittedly, this is the genius behind an operation like Chippendales - the understanding that this kind of denial is crucial for many women to indulge. But even if the maid of honour's intention is truly innocent fun (whatever that means in a roomful of naked men), it doesn't stop the exchange from having sexist, condescending overtones. And yet that doesn't bother her. What a surprise.

As you yourself point out, even in their most sanitized states, these places can be outrageous. If one of the points of argument is that female strippers have looser boundaries than male ones, rest assured, this is a weak case. I don't know a lot of straight male strippers, but every one I do know (along with a couple of the queers) has fucked a fiancée and a bridesmaid or two. It seems an informal right of passage in their profession and one that is effortlessly facilitated by the calculated blamelessness that's already being spouted by your bridal party - groupthink that's only five frozen daiquiris away from being, "We didn't meeeaaaaan to. We just came in here for a girls' night out but the next thing we knew, Tammy was blowing Gunner in the limo! We couldn't help it!"

Here's another piece of news that might be displeasing to your two-faced abolitionists: there are ways of dealing with unreasonable spousal boundaries without leaving Las Vegas hotel rooms. Have you seen the colourful business cards littering the parking lots of the casinos, with ladies in bikinis offering companionship? They belong to prostitutes who, while your shitfaced bride-to-be is getting teabagged on a smoke-filled catwalk, will be more than happy to come up and blow every single one of your hubbies (or spank them with a rolled-up Maxim magazine if they so desire) and none of you will be the wiser. This is a comparably cost-effective solution too, as there are no champagne-room fees and overpriced drinks to worry about.

Bottom line? Don't get married if you can't handle the occasional controversy and, if you do, don't get a self-deceptive control freak who is obviously no longer putting out to organize your bachelorette.

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