Rant: I See London, I See France

by Erin on October 28, 2008

plain white panties

So a couple weeks ago I went roller-skating, on the spur of the moment, in [location redacted]. I went straight from work, so (as is my wont) I was wearing a full skirt and a cardigan sweater.

I get my skates (rentals, and they carved up my ankles something tragic, I'm still sporting band-aids), lace 'em up, and am about to hit the floor, when this Creepy Guy intercepts me.

"I am so sorry for coming up to you like this," said Creepy Guy, and for a minute I thought he meant "on Rollerblades," because, as you all know, I am an old-school quad-skate SNOB, but no — he continued — "I just had to say how BRAVE you are. I've never seen anyone skate in a skirt!"

I was, of course, gobsmacked (as I always am when people are bogglesomely rude and/or clueless), but all I could think of to say was "What do you think people did before 1955?" and fix him with my best Withering Look before I skated away.

But the whole thing really cheesed me off. (Obviously, or I would have titled this post "Musings:" or "Prolegomena:")

First of all, skating in a skirt is not "brave". Rescuing children from burning buildings is brave; wearing a skirt is … wearing a skirt.

So Creepy Guy (who was also wearing one of those arm holders for his iPod, which ALSO pissed me off, because if you are skating at a rink you should do the DJ the courtesy of listening to what he's spinning, even if he IS making Slurpees at the snack bar at the same time) was calling me brave because — as far as I could tell — there was a chance I might FALL and THUS: someone might, possibly, theoretically SEE MY UNDERWEAR.


C'mon, people, are we all six years old?

Let us first admit that all of us know that most people wear underwear. We know this because when people do NOT wear underwear, it is a cause for comment. There are slang terms ("Going commando," etc.) for not wearing underwear; I have not heard any for wearing underwear. Thus not wearing underwear is the marked case.

Let us next admit that most people wear underwear that is, at minimum, the same coverage as a relatively modest bathing suit. How do we know this? A quick investigation of any mass-market store (e.g. Target) shows that the ratio of "bikini," "hipster," or "brief" styles of women's underwear stocked is roughly double the amount of thong underwear stocked (by number, not volume, obviously). Retailers stock items in proportion to their sales.

Given this knowledge, and the knowledge that thong underwear's most typical use case is to avoid a visible panty line, added to the evidence of a FULL SKIRT (= no panty line) we can posit that most people wearing full skirts are most likely not wearing thong underwear. (They may not be wearing granny panties, but they are probably wearing something that could be categorized as "great-aunt panties.")

We also know that these things exist: boy shorts, bike shorts, "shapers" etc., etc. So there are many more types of underwear that do not allow for indecent exposure than there are those that DO.

NOT TO MENTION (as I mention it) that a SIGNIFICANT portion of the women skating in jeans were displaying a "whale tail," which is (as I'm sure you know) the phenomenon where a large portion of the back and sides of a pair of thong underwear is visible above the back waistband of a pair of pants (usually low-riding jeans). And more than a few of the male patrons had visible boxer-shorts waistbands displayed above the waistbands of their pants.

So the ratio of underwear (not counting visible bra straps) displayed by pants-wearing patrons to the underwear displayed by skirt-wearing patrons was something on the order of, oh, I dunno, INFINITE. (I would make a Riemann sphere joke here if I knew anything about the Riemann sphere.)

Given all this, then, could we please lay off the "OMG!!!! Someone might SEE YOUR UNDERWEAR!!!" hand-wringing directed at us skirt- and dress-wearers? I know it's too much to ask the Creepy Guys of the world to cut it out (because if they were self-aware enough to know not to say stuff like this they would not, in fact, be creepy), but, seriously, people. We can wear skirts and dresses and participate in all sorts of normal activities, such as climbing up stepladders, crawling under desks to swap cables, riding bicycles, carrying boxes (up to 70 lbs), and, yes, even go roller-skating.

(I think this was a different rant than the one commenters on yesterday's post were expecting … sorry about that. I promise to rant about actual makes and models of underwear in some future post.)

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