Originally published on In the Powder Room. Reprinted with permission.
It’s not often that penises are appropriate outerwear. They’re weather sensitive, you never know if you’re going to pull out a turtle or v-neck, and they shrink in the wash. Occasionally, they create a pearl necklace.
For bachelorettes though, the dick diadem is standard ware for one night. When asked by a bachelorette (who opted out) why brides wear them and why they attract so much attention, I thought, “What a sizable question!”
Depending on which way you lean, you might see the penis tiara as a fun clothing phenomenon, like Hammerpants, or you might see it as a terrible menace, like Hammerpants. Either way, they’re impossible to avoid as they light up on top of an inebriated bride’s head, its feathery balls swaying in the wind.
As to the origins of this odd headpiece, my first supposition (and sorry guys) is that penises are funny. Pre-marriage, they still make us giggle; after marriage, they get old. Maybe if men hung dong as much as women showed boobs on screen, we’d be accustomed to them and wouldn’t wear them as a source of amusement.
To be fair to the guys, though, the penis tiara is a complete double standard. If bachelor parties started wearing vagina hats, we’d be discussing the objectification of women.
As a plus, a dildo-donning bride shows she is comfortable with her sexuality. Wearing one publicly demonstrates that brides don’t have to be innocent virgins anymore and, in that sense, might actually positively challenge purity myths.
On the downside, the penis tiara is often seen as obnoxious and tasteless. Public nudity is condemned to the jailhouse or remote beaches; so adhering to codes of costumed decorum is expected. Phallic headgear challenges Puritanical sexual and behavioral feminine modesties, which might explain their lack of popularity. That’s hostile sexism. Brides, who chose not to wear one to be perceived as classy or tasteful, may be unconsciously responding to benevolent sexism.
The penis tiara also invites a lot of unwanted, negative attention. It’s on par with the short skirt dilemma, which is misconstrued as women “asking for it.” At a recent bachelorette party in Newport, Rhode Island, we encountered a group of guys who thought it would be funny to talk about penetrating our panties. Lots of people enjoy a good pickle tickle, but when it’s so aggressively one-sided, it’s just street harassment.
And at the bars, male strangers yelled to the bride, “Don’t do it!” I get this joke, but I also get that it’s a bad joke. Initially, the bride politely smiled but the joke got flaccid fast. She lamented, “Why can’t they just wish me well? Is that so hard?”
Bachelorette parties are usually seen as gregarious with an open-door policy, especially with interactive games like suck for a buck. When the bachelorette gets up on stage to dance or do buttery nipple shots off strangers’ belly buttons, she’s absolutely engaging an audience but one she chose. This “social agreement” lasts as long as a two-pump chump.
The penis tiara is indeed omnipotent. It’s unclear whether women can wield its power for feminine good or perpetuate the patriarchal penis in all its average six-inch wonder. Being the Queen of Cocks for one night comes with a lot responsibility and unreasonable social expectations. Until everyone understands the nuances of public sexual expression, the princess penis tiara might be a fashion mistake. On the other ball though, those fashion risk-takers might be challenging the status quo and paving the way to a happier ending.