Sex With a Stripper Before Your Wedding? How Men Sometimes Cheat Just to Impress Other Men
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Marie Claire ran a story recently called The Truth About Bachelor Parties.” It opens, as you might expect, with an anecdote about a groom going to a strip club with his friends and family members (including some male relatives of the bride-to-be). As Judy Dutton reports, the groom, “Adam,” ended up having sex with a stripper—but only after being goaded by his friends.
In another instance, the bachelor party sex was premeditated:
Take Kevin, 29, embarked on a “sexual scavenger hunt” during a bachelor party in Montreal. “We said we’d have sex with a stripper, a bride-to-be, a cougar, etc.,” says Kevin. “Two guys were married, one engaged, one single, and one with a girlfriend, like me. I slept with a stripper (full point) and kissed a bride-to-be (half point).” Kevin admits that bachelor parties are male bonding at its worst: “It was a twisted celebration of our bond, another chapter in our history,” he says.
Dutton’s point was that women should be leery of trusting what men say about bachelor parties, claiming that guys often conspire to deceive wives and girlfriends. But she buried the lead: the degree to which men’s infidelity and sexual acting-out is about seeking status from other men.
While it may be impossible for women to find out what their boyfriends and husbands are really up to during stag parties, the big take-away from Dutton’s piece is undeniable: the sexual behavior of even the straightest of guys is driven by the need for other men’s approval.
There’s a name for this behavior: homosociality.
Scholars use this term to refer to the power of same-sex bonds. To put it simply, a man is “homosocial” (it has nothing to do with homosexuality) if he values his relationships with his male buddies over his romantic relationship with a woman. At its crudest, this idea is expressed in the old maxim “bros before hos.”
But while same-sex friendships are wonderful and necessary, there’s something very troubling about the way so many American men act out their homosociality. In Dutton’s article, men are consistently faced with a choice between remaining faithful to their female partners or engaging in competition with other guys. Over and over again, these men choose to break their vows. The “bros” win out.
In the Marie Claire piece, “Kevin” uses the language of scoring to describe having sex with a stripper (one point) and kissing a bride-to-be (half a point.) This isn’t new. Since at least the 1920s if not before, American men have used the language of sports, especially baseball, to describe sex. The terms are familiar to generations of American teens: first base, second base, third base, home run. (While there’s general consensus that simple kissing is first base and intercourse constitutes the home run, there’s long been heated disagreement as to what sexual acts “count” as reaching second and third.) As in baseball, one must “get home” (have intercourse) in order to “score.”
The obvious question hardly ever gets asked. Who’s the opponent against whom you’re trying to rack up points and runs?
It’s obvious from Kevin’s story—and from the lived experiences of countless men—that the competition isn’t “boys against girls.” It’s man-on-man , a homosocial battle to prove who’s got the most “game.” School boys refer to a promiscuous classmate as a “player,” and they say it with admiration. And make no mistake; the player is playing against other guys. Women are just the necessary implements for keeping score.
What’s curiously absent in the Marie Claire article (and in the research on male homosociality and heterosexual behavior) is lust. Most of us were raised to believe that young men are in a state of near-constant arousal, with sex first and foremost on their minds. The reality, as Dutton unintentionally reminds us, is that orgasm is secondary in importance to homosocial validation.