Welcome, girls, to the boys' night out

Women have been spotted at that last male stronghold, the stag party. Not as strippers but participants, cheers ANNE CUTHBERTSON

Something strange has happened to stag nights. Women. Not strippers, not prostitutes, not even the barmaid at The Crown. Women friends.

Sophia Wilkinson, a 28-year-old radio producer, was recently the lone female on a stag weekend in Barcelona. She had known Nick since she was 14 and shortly after the stag she was an usher at his wedding. Although she describes Nick as being like a brother, she was wary when she received the invitation. "At first I said 'No way am I going off with five blokes behaving badly'. Girls don't go on stag weekends. But I was pleased to be asked and soon realised that they were quite a civilised bunch."

Given the honorary name "Steve" for the weekend, she met the challenge head on despite a few early worries. "They talked a lot about shagging and football and G-strings. And there was a lot of admiring of girls' bottoms." The weekend was an alcohol-fuelled bar hop, with one of the party discreetly watering down her Cava. Sophia shared a room with two others who, she says, were considerate and left when she wanted to change. "They were really kind to me and respected the fact that I was a girl." So much so that it was "Steve" who suggested they all go to a sex show. Two of the men declined.

Nick clearly never doubted Sophia would fit in. "There was no question that she shouldn't come. For the weekend she was definitely one of the lads. In fact she out-ladded all of us," he says.

Although women on stags are still rare - the Stag Weekend Company has seen only one mixed stag take part in its organised activities in five years - the fact that it is starting to happen signifies an evolution in relationships between the sexes. One man with an eye on the changes is Andrew Lilwall-Smith, editor of Bliss For Brides magazine. "These days you don't have to be out with the lads. There are more women working on the same level as men and going out after office hours drinking with them. Consequently, friendships have developed differently; they've become more non-sexual, non-gender. It's no longer the When Harry Met Sally idea that men and women can't be friends because sex gets in the way."

Trends in stag functions are becoming more women-friendly, notably the decline in the "traditional" seedier elements. Strippers and topless bars, too, are on the wane. It's no longer a big deal, says Lilwall-Smith, when there's nudity on television.

So is there a formula that makes for a successful mixed stag? A day at the Newbury races was a winner for advertising copywriter Simon Welsh, who invited two girls, Miranda and Tiger. Simon felt the girls took out the macho element. "I've been on traditional stags where there's been real pressure to conform to a stereotype. At mine, people drank what they wanted." It was important, he maintains, that there are no couples or ex-girlfriends. "Marta [his wife] was fine about Miranda and Tiger, but she wouldn't have been happy if certain girls had been there."

Miranda, Simon's friend of ten years, agrees that their presence was security for the bride-to-be and a taming element to the celebrations. "There were no moments when we felt out of our depth. There was no big defining line between girls and blokes."

Or was there? In the course of the evening, the girls went home to change and, according to Tom, the best man, there was a shift in mood. He recalls "one beautiful hour" of bawdy, juvenile banter. "Men can be paranoid about offending women. You can't quite go all the way." In the midst of the raucous men-only moment, he recalls a pause and someone commenting, "maybe that's why you don't have girls on a stag". One month later, Tom had his own stag - it was men only.

There's no doubting that the all-male stag will prevail. You can't easily erase a tradition that's been around since Spartan soldiers feasted together the night before a marriage. And though marriages today do not necessarily toll a farewell to freedom, the male bonding lives on, as business consultant Giles Ruddock and 14 of his friends will be doing this weekend. He believes the tradition part is largely irrelevant today. "These days, the stag is just an excuse to go out and have fun with your best friends. Marriage is not a social-life killer any more - that happens when you have kids."

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

    £20000 - £21000 per annum: The Jenrick Group: This high quality manufacturer o...

    The Jenrick Group: Electrical Maintenance Engineer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Electrical ...

    Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'