Bridal Showers: A Celebration of the Bride or the Patriarchy?
Considering I’m 25 and single with only one married friend, I’ve never really put much thought into traditional pre-wedding activities. However, my best friend recently attended her cousin’s bridal shower, and spent the majority of her train ride back to our apartment texting me and relaying the totally bizarre activities she was required to witness and participate in. I had no idea that “bridal shower games” are a thing, let alone how totally sexist and outdated they are.
In case you’re unaware of what the “purse game” entails, here’s a short summary: All of the guests empty their purses after being given a list of items and their corresponding point values, and at the end, whoever has the most points/items, wins. I didn’t really understand the point of this as my roommate was trying to explain it, so I did a quick Google search, and saw that the points get higher with, in most cases, how feminine or protective the items are. For example, having a driver’s license or cell phone might be worth 1 point, but having tampons or mascara would be worth more, and having pepper spray or a handgun would be worth the most. Seriously. Other things on these strange lists might include diapers, condoms, vaginal wipes and perfume.
So in essence, the winner of the action-packed purse game is the woman who carries the most (and girliest) stuff in her purse –– the woman who’s prepared to fight off a potential rapist while smelling like roses after changing a diaper! Not that I see anything wrong with wanting to protect yourself with pepper spray, but being rewarded for carrying a weapon that’s almost directly tied to instances of gender-based violence is just disturbing, and an extension of the terrible idea that women should have to carry weapons to keep themselves safe from attackers. Feeling the need to arm yourself with something to ward off a rapist or mugger is sad, and probably not something that groups of women should joke about over mimosas and pastries. And as for the handgun (which fortunately, wasn’t on the list at my friend’s cousin’s shower, but came up on several other lists on the internet), I can’t even begin to wrap my head around that, and am choosing to believe that was added as a (totally non-funny) joke.
And apparently, these games are both commonplace and accepted. Although, I suppose consenting to sexist games at a sexist event isn’t all that surprising. Like I said, I had never really considered aspects of bridal showers previously, but how twisted is it that in this day and age, groups of women gather to celebrate the bride-to-be as she receives lingerie and crock-pots?! I’m all for parties and fun, but can’t modern bridal showers find a way of congratulating the bride without confirming her role as a stereotypical housewife?
Because that’s exactly what bridal showers do; they celebrate the transformation of a woman into a “domestic goddess.” There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to bestow gifts to your friends and loved ones as they approach their days of married life, but why on earth do bridal showers have to revolve around monogrammed towels and kitchen supplies? It’s insulting! This isn’t 1950! And to be honest, is anyone actually that excited about receiving griddle? (Disclaimer: I had no idea as to what a griddle was until my roommate mentioned that was one of the gifts.) Or an electric mixer? Gifts are cool and it’s always helpful to receive things –– especially when you’re young and don’t have tons of money to dish out on items like kitchen supplies –– but why is it only the women that receive the “domestic” stuff?
Again, I don’t want to sound like a killjoy. I love parties and I’ll usually look for any excuse to drink champagne with my girlfriends, but celebrating a tradition that seems so terribly outdated and offensive just doesn’t seem like a lot of fun.
What’s your take on wedding showers? Would you have a traditional bridal party? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Written by Nicole Woszczyna