Other cultures have rituals for divorce. In the Ndebele tribe of South Africa, when a woman marries, the husband gives her a series of necklaces, which artificially lengthen her neck and cause her neck muscles to atrophy. When they divorce, they have a ceremony where he takes back the necklaces and her head flops to one side until her muscles retrain themselves.
In Morocco, where divorce is a new phenomenon, a divorced woman is given a party by her friends. There is music and dancing, and men who are interested in the divorced woman come to the party and bring her presents like camels (the animals, not the cigarettes) and jewelry. The party lasts for three days, or as long as it takes for the woman to accept another marriage offer.
Personally, I'm always happy to have jewelry (I figure I can always use it to hold up my neck), but I don't think I would have cared for a camel or a new husband that soon after my divorce. But maybe that's just me.
Still, I think the idea of a divorce party seems like a good one. According to Divorce Magazine
(which sounds about as much fun to subscribe to as Bad Skin Monthly
or Why Does Everything in My Life Go So Wrong? Digest
), these parties are becoming more popular.
When I got divorced, my personal Grrl Genius club actually threw a surprise shower for me to replace what I had lost in the divorce. I was overwhelmed by their generosity, and it was great to once again have spatulas and a nice set of measuring cups. (Although I wouldn't have minded getting my 20s back, but that's not exactly something you can register for at Target.)
What I didn't know was that there had been a lot of controversy among my friends as to whether throwing a divorce party was a good idea, or whether it was the kind of thing that would make me feel like an even bigger loser.
My cousin Jen, who is a 28-year-old bride-to-be, decided to consult her Peggy Post etiquette bible. Peggy thinks that divorce parties should be private and discreet. In her opinion, it is bad taste to have a public ritual where you belittle the former spouse in a mean-spirited fashion. (This ran steadfastly against my married friend Kim's desire to burn my ex in effigy.)
Kim, who is a high-powered exec and sometimes takes her killer boardroom tactics into her nonwork life, felt that there definitely needed to be some kind of bloodlust element to the event. I was later told that her suggestion was "Let's have a really good chocolate cake made in the shape of a man, and in the center we'll have this huge pink frosting heart that Cathryn can cut out and eat!"