Can You Be a Feminist and Still Enjoy a Hen Party?

Can you be a feminist and still enjoy a hen party?


Hen parties are still a very popular pre-wedding event. Getting the girls together for one last hurrah in anticipation of the big day is, for many, an important rite of passage. It can be a great bonding experience for the hen/bride-to-be with her family and bridesmaids, creating lasting memories.

Yet, when considered through the lens of feminism, a hen party can seem as problematic. On the one hand it’s a chance for women to group together to enjoy themselves without the male gaze, on the other hen weekends represent an outdated idea of the last weekend of freedom before being tied to one man for life.

Hen parties tow the line between frivolous and important, much of which can depend on what the hen weekends involve and how those attending feel about it. So, can you be a feminist and still enjoy a hen party? To understand that we first have to explore what hen parties are and what hen weekends have become in recent years.

The stereotypical hen party night out

Hen parties are, at their broadest, a social gathering held for a soon to be wed friend. They can be as simple as a night at a restaurant and as extravagant as a spa weekend, or a holiday in Europe. However, it can be the actual events or features of the night or hen weekend which really determine to tone.

26% of stag and hen parties involve some form of adult entertainment. Considering hen nights specifically for example, an article of Bachelorette Party ideas for Cosmopolitan magazine named, among other ideas: ‘hone a sexy skill’, ‘whip up a penis cake’ and ‘give her a hot challenge’ such as ‘getting a guy to buy her a drink’ or ‘convince a dude to hand over his underwear’. Why not also check out these best adult content websites here for your best preferences!

For some women, that might sound like good harmless fun. To others, embarrassing, awkward and even offensive. Depending on who you invite this may well concern the organisers. Claims can be made on both sides for these events being feminist. It could be allowing women to reclaim their sexuality in a public way, rather than having to be coy, or it could be seen as prescribing to heteronormative gender roles and engaging in demeaning acts.

Because of the overt sexual nature of many of the events at hen parties, stereotypical expectations like the hen (or stag) having sex with a stranger on their “last night of freedom” are believed to be commonplace and it’s backed up by data. A 2014 survey found that a staggering third of people cheat at their hen party.

This isn’t to say that traditional hen parties can’t be enjoyed even by women who see the dancing, the L plates and the strip dancing as just a bit of fun, but many fall into expected habits that may not be beneficial for women on the whole.

The rise of alternative hen party weekends

A survey by found that only 12% of brides wanted a traditional hen party and only 3% wanted a stripper. On the other hand, 59% wanted to celebrate a hen party weekend by the beach and 23% wanted a non-traditional party that reflects who they are as a person.

In recent years there has been a more public shift away from traditional hen parties to more varied hen weekends. While alcohol may feature, many stag and hen parties don’t actually feature or revolve around alcohol. Instead they centre on an experience or activity that will be memorable and enjoyable for all, not simply because everyone can get a little tipsy.

Hen parties can be as diverse as the women who celebrate them and the wide array of hen weekend packages reflect this. Organisers of hen party weekends, Maximise, are one company embracing this diversity. They state that ‘not all hen groups are the same, and while perfume making, afternoon tea or a dance activity may suit some, it won’t suit all”.

Can hen weekends be feminist?

The 2011 film Bridesmaids was lauded for killing ‘Hollywood’s fear of feminism’. The film, starring Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd, featured a group of women planning their friends bachelorette party. The women acted in ways not dissimilar to how we would expect male counterparts to in a bachelor movie, showing women on film as capable of the same antics.

Speaking in The Guardian, film reviewer David Cox argued that the characters in the movie, who all participated in many of things we’d deem as a stereotypical hen behaviour, helped remove the shackles of women who can be free to enjoy themselves. He states that “new ground has thus indeed been broken, and a new dawn has perhaps been signalled. The post-feminist ascendency of sanctimonious female exceptionalism may be coming to a close, not just on screen but off screen as well.”

Hen parties themselves aren’t feminist, or misogynistic, nor are stag do’s for that matter. Hen do’s are a celebration of a bride’s individuality and, in essence, should simply be fun. Whether they involve a night on the town or a weekend in the wild, hen parties can, and should, be in enjoyed by all. What is comes down to, often, is how the hen weekends or nights are viewed by the women taking part.

By: George Norris