New York: Dina Litovsky
Bachelorette, the Rite of Passage
In the last decade, the bachelorette party has become a ubiquitous rite of passage for a bride. Through this ritual, the bride-to-be is initiated into the role of a wife by her friends in a fascinating twist on traditional gender roles. The women celebrate their friend’s commitment by engaging in outwardly ‘masculine’ behavior, signifying that a woman has as much sexual freedom to lose as her partner. A ritual attempting to reinforce relationships among women is performed in a conventionally atypical female way- through a night of sexual games and indulgent drinking.
Though it is considered a part of the wedding process, it is in some ways a world apart, being the only institutionalized event that reflects a possible ambivalence of the bride saying goodbye to single life. With roots in the feminist culture of the 1970s, this custom reflects an often-contradictory female image in today’s culture. There is a reward in being both a virginal bride in white and a sexual vixen open to ‘sanctioned debauchery’. The cultural encouragement of the woman to uncover her sexuality is echoed in the commercial symbols of the bachelorette party- the highly sexualized accessories and toys.
In my attempt to understand the ritual itself, I also hope to get a deeper understanding of the women taking part in it – both their interpersonal relationships and their psychological state at this very sensitive and complex moment of their lives. I am exploring the bachelorette party as a rite of passage and as a curious ritual of friendship and status, intimacy and consumerism.