The Age of the Girl

I watched the movie Magic Mike recently. It was about what I expected, with two exceptions: a great, campy performance from Matthew McConaughey and a surprisingly good one from Cody Horn in the role of the potential girlfriend who waits for Magic Mike (Channing Tatum) to get tired of the party lifestyle that apparently goes along with being a male stripper.

Anyway, male strippers: a strange cultural phenomenon. Toned bodies, yes, but what’s with the over-the-top costumes, gyrations and thrusting? Is this what women want on a night out with the girlfriends in 2012?

It turns out that, yes, there is still a demand: for some women, going out with the girls means dressing up, getting drunk, and squealing as men caress themselves and thrust their hips in a parody of lust. And I just don’t get it.

Channing Tatum has a pretty good explanation:

Men go to strip clubs for a pretty simple reason. It’s a carnal, visual thing. The point of male stripping is to bring women onstage and embarrass them so their friends can cheer them on. Women go to watch their friends’ faces turn red and to have a night of camaraderie with their girlfriends. — Channing Tatum on IMDB

Makes sense. Though I can have a night of camaraderie with my girlfriends in pleasanter surroundings. And there is something about the behaviour that goes with the wild girls’ night out. It’s a kind of playacting, I think, and perhaps has its origins in an old-fashioned male view of sexuality, where women’s attitudes and needs are thought to be identical to men’s, but why do so many women conform to this view?

Looking at the groups of women out on the town for hen parties or other kinds of girls’ nights out, I see certain similarities: a lot of skin on display; skirts too short to be flattering (let’s not even think about striving for elegance); shoes too high for comfort or stability. But this seems to be suitable costuming for the activity. And then you must drink, preferably shots.

The whole shots phenomenon happened after the days when my social life included drinking too much, so I don’t understand it.  I was recently at our local — the Raven, a reasonable kind of neighbourhood pub — where I idly perused the list of shots (“4 for $15”). There were a lot, all variations on the theme of combinations of sweet liqueurs. And then there were the names. The ones that jumped out at me were The Nymphomaniac, The Slippery Nipple, and The Blow Job. No … really? I mean, really? That’s pretty crass. Assuming you actually want the drink, how do you even ask for one of these?

Suddenly, I was in a nightmare universe where all the awful pictures of breast-augmented, reality-TV starlets, the “Who Wore it Better?” comparisons in In Touch (much thigh and boob, the hooker heels), and the Cosmopolitan articles that are variations on the theme of learn-about-the-three-top-things-you-can-do-in-bed-to-keep-him-happy, threatened to overwhelm me. I realized that we are in The Age of the Girl. Where The Girl is a giggly, intoxicated airhead with a body-conscious dress and a propensity for the one night hookup with her male (tanned, toned, cologne-wearing) counterpart. It sounds awfully pompous to talk about the cheapening and distortion of sexuality, so I will just say that I hope the pendulum swings back soon. I look forward to The Age of the Woman.

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