I currently sit writing in a Welsh cottage sipping a glass of wine and pondering the written word. One, because I am a pretentious douche and two, because I am waiting for a spag bol to cook. I feel I can’t leave the pan because the last three times I have left something on simmer, I forgot about it entirely and ruined a perfectly edible dinner and a perfectly decent pan. The wine is a white one, the name of which I don’t know because I only tend to drink wine when I’m flexing my pretentious douche muscles or it’s the only thing on offer.
It was on my way to Wales (albeit just in Wales – my bed is probably half in half out), that I stopped in a service station. These are bizarre places. A hidden magical world contained within our own. They are convergence points in time where all manner of creatures from every decade imaginable may pass through, brush shoulders and share tales of the past and warn of things to come. Mostly, however, it was where they pee and then buy an overpriced coffee.
It was here I happened to overhear a group of men. They were all men, and not just biologically male, but MEN. They were extremely vocal about how male they really were. These were the sort of people who viewed being born with a fleshy appendage between their legs as a thing to be regarded as an achievement and therefore worthy of boasting.
I have a penis, but I tend to regard it with casual indifference these days, much like the rest of the world. This group of MEN belong a subset of the male gender (a word that’s becoming increasingly confusing these days, it’s an interesting linguistic journey we have embarked on in recent years). They are lads. In much the same way that all Uruk-hai are orcs, but not all orcs are Uruk-hai (no doubt I am misremembering my LotR lore. Do not engage me in a lengthy debate; I am on holiday), all lads are MEN but not all men are lads.
Very occasionally, a group of lads split off from the general horde of slathering shits and embark on an age-old ritual known as ‘a Stagg Do’. It is my sincerest hope that this dies a painful death. I hope it dies choking on its own blood, writhing in the mud and filth from which it sprang. Once dead, I hope it is stricken from the annals of history. I hope anyone who dares utter the phrase ‘Stagg Do’ is castigated and cast out of society if not immediately bludgeoned to death with the nearest blunt implement.
Not wishing to seem to hard on MEN and lads, women (those born without penises and possessed of a womb in this definition) occasionally do similar things. Their ritual is known as a Hen Do. These are still relatively deplorable, but apparently, they are steeped in sexual liberation (for womankind, of course, men have always been fairly free when it comes to sex). There are many reasons why the woman’s ritual is called a Hen Do rather than a Hind Do. The most obvious is of course that, as far as the Lad and MEN are concerned, women are so inferior that they can’t even be considered as regal as a deer. No, where Lads and MEN are concerned, Women are weak, ugly and scraggly looking hens. In fairness, to continue this imagery, you would think the Stag Do would be referred to as the ‘Cock Do’ seeing as there tends to be one dominant cock or rooster among a … (gaggle?) of hens. However, it isn’t because cock – being a slang term for the penis – means a cock do would sound somewhat homoerotic, and if there’s one thing a Lad feels is worthy of more scorn than a woman (or hen), it’s a homosexual. Which is quite interesting all things considered. I will delve into it more later.
This group of Lads, on the way to complete their Stag Do, were travelling in the opposite direction to myself, which gladdened me. From my research, I believe the Stag and Hen do is a pre-wedding celebration, falling sometime after an engagement party and a brief period before a wedding. People cannot get married unless they’ve had a certain number of celebrations prior to the main celebration that is the wedding. To some, it is viewed as a final farewell from the groom or bride to be to their friends. To others, it is to revel in one last night of freedom. The former is an acceptance that their youth lies behind them, and they start a new chapter in which they are committed to another human and, as such, may not have the same amount of time for their friends. The latter is an ostentatious fuck you to the one you intend to marry. It is an expensive way to demonstrate the sheer lack of respect you hold for the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.
Ironically, either way, you look at it, shows that those who feel the need to have a Stag Do or a Hen Do, should not be getting married. If you feel that when married, you must sacrifice your friendships to devote more time to this other person, then the chances are, you will spend too much time together and end up resenting one another. If you feel that sharing your life with one other person and refraining from sleeping with anyone else is synonymous with imprisonment, then you are a cunt. Marriages to cunts tend not to last long.
‘The Dos’ which they shall now be referred to, have evolved over time. Once, they involved going out with close friends and having one too many at a pub. Then they became going out with a few friends and having nine too many, before falling into a deep existential despair, crying and/or fighting before eventually throwing up. The last step is apparently to dispel demons.
Alas, for the modern Stag or Hen, this is no longer enough. The Dos involve spending a ludicrous amount of money flinging each other around the world to spend a long weekend at an overly extravagant resort or going go-karting or paintballing. The last to are unfortunately more common among the MEN to once again prove their manliness. Men like fast cars and men like violence, so it makes sense to drive fast fake cars and take part in faux violence all whilst reaffirming the fact that they like having sex with women.
Having not been privy to any Hen Dos and only seen a few at a distance, I don’t know if this is the same as them, although, in my experience, women tend to be a bit more relaxed about sexuality than MEN, that is to say, Lads.
You see, a lack of self-awareness is an unfortunate genetic trait of the Lad. Were they to take an objective look at what they were doing, there would be many a revelation. At the very least, they’d tone it down a bit.
They’d see that the Stag Do involves a man, going out in a group that is strictly male where they often talk about how much they like having sex with women and how wonderful it is to have a penis, whilst celebrating their last night of freedom, before they are forced to spend their lives having sex with a woman. They’d put all this together and realise that maybe they don’t want to be married and maybe…they don’t like women. At the very least, they’ll realise that their notion of ‘manliness’ is flawed and prevents them from being anything other than a crude cut out. They would realise they no longer have to strive to prove themselves to be MEN, because the word has no relevance anymore.
If we could rid the world of the blight of the stag and hen do, the gender divide would lessen. Homophobia would decrease and we’d all be a lot happier. The only thing that would remain would be racism and we could easily get rid of that by all agreeing that the notion of ‘culture’ is an arbitrary barrier extrapolated from the weird shit our ancestors used to get up to before Netflix came along.
More on that later in the week.
Note: I am very much aware that this whole piece comes across as patronising and a touch classist. I am aware that increasingly, stag and hen dos are being seen as a celebration of love and tend to be mixed (primarily in more middle-class metropolitan areas and those who read the Guardian). In terms of classism, the notion of the lad (or whatever the female version is, if you’re the type that needs one) transcends class. I know many a ‘laddish’ type with the ‘lad’ mentality and mannerisms who live in detached houses in the suburbs and drive expensive Audis that their fairly wealthy parents bought for them. The Lad, is not then, a working-class cheeky chappy. Unless of course, you believe these Audi driving types able to get onto the property ladder in increasingly expensive areas working class. In which case, the classes make less sense than they ever did and we should all shut up about it.
I am also aware of the distinct possibility that my grammar is all over the place. My day job involves a hefty amount of proof reading. I’m on holiday. Fuck punctuation.