My latest struggle in this patriarchal madhouse for which I am demographically responsible has been one of the toughest yet: organising a stag do. My oldest and truest friend, my most loyal and loving confidante has, in the absence of a better alternative, asked me to be his best man. What an honour. What a privilege. What a pain in the ass it’s been. Get more than three men in a room together, chances are they’ll revert to blokey stereotype quicker than you can say “Tits and beer”. Chances are half of them won’t have any reverting to do having never strayed from the stereotype to begin with. It’s hard, putting together a feminist stag night when so many of the traditions are sexist bollocks, when so many of the attendees want the traditional sexist bollocks and when there are so many pairs of actual bollocks. An unreconstructed stag night means putting the stag in a dress and heels because resembling a woman is humiliating, trading barbed witticisms about his lack of masculinity and/or his latent homosexuality because both are hilarious, demonstrating the correlation between the relative spiciness of available curries and the size of the eater’s penis because brown people don’t eat like us, and paying a woman or women to remove their clothing and/or perform a sex act because nothing celebrates the beginning of a lifelong union like engaging the services of a sex worker. If you’re not keen on misogyny, homophobia and racist banter these things can grate a little.
Have to say, I object to the cliché almost as much as the misogyny. Hen nights kill me the same way, all spa days and dares, all cocktails and sparklers, all L plates and deely boppers and inflatable cocks. As someone who’s lived 34 consecutive years refusing to utter the phrase “At the end of the day” that shit pains me. But still, the misogyny was the bigger problem. And I was up against it.
I thought maybe we could go abroad, take in the sights. They thought maybe we could go to a strip club, take in the tits. I thought maybe we could do a parachute jump. They thought maybe we could do a strip club. I thought rock climbing. They thought strip club. I thought bowling. They thought strip club. I thought basically anything that wasn’t a strip club. They thought more along the lines of a strip club. There was a very definite consensus in terms of the strip club.
I’ve had this happen before, at another stag I didn’t organise and felt even less able to ram my politics into. There the talk of strip clubs went on a few hours until I said I wasn’t going and found myself on the pavement at one in the morning debating gender politics with horny drunk people. There we reached a lousy compromise where I waited in the foyer while they all paid for tits. The fiver I paid to get in still gets to me. This time the strip club wasn’t happening. It didn’t happen. I failed on all other counts.
We put the stag in a dress. They did the curry/dick thing, cracked wise about women and gay men, covered the essentials of football, beer, tits, birds and birds’ tits. I did a few sarky gags to puncture it all but it was like farting against a hurricane. I let most of it go, because when challenging that stuff means ruining your friend’s stag night you either ruin your friend’s stag night or let most of it go. I mostly sold out, let the world be like it is for a night. I won a tiny battle, lost the war. And after I left I’m pretty sure they all went to a strip club. Still, baby steps and all that.
Photo credit: The Zero