30 April 2007

women's underwear

A recent post at I Blame the Patriarchy was hilarious enough to remind me of why I started reading the blog in the first place:
I mean to say that in report after gruesome report on torture tactics sanctioned by the Secretary of Defense and employed by American sociopath-imperialist forces in hell-holes like Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib, one reads ceaselessly of “snarling military dogs,” “stress positions,” “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli,” “20-hour interrogations,” “sleep deprivation,” “forced to perform tricks while tethered to dog leash,” “waterboarding, and “forced to wear women’s underwear on head.”
The rest of the post continues with an excellent discussion of why this last atrocity is so particularly degrading. Instead of commenting further, I'll recommend you check it out yourself.

Instead, I'd like to add my own story to this under-discussed field.

A few years ago I was buying undershirts in a K-mart. It took me a while to find them because they weren't with the other plain T-shirts, but were in the [Men's] "Underwear and Socks" section of the store. By this time I had thoroughly explored the K-Mart clothing department. Strangely, while there was a Women's Socks department, there were no signs for Women's Underwear. Instead the place to buy women's underwear was called "Intimate Apparel." (You can see this replicated in their online men's and women's catalogues.)

Hopefully any comment I could make here about how only women are thought to be gendered and about the pervasiveness of raunch culture would be superfluous. But could I be alone here in being shocked? Has the rest of the clothes-buying world long since gotten used to this? Or maybe is one of those quotidian horrors (like American TV news) that only becomes less appalling through wearying repetition.

In the next episode, I do a gendered reading of the tanktop. For women a perfectly respectable, if informal, summer top; for men, it is vaguely obscene without a shirt over it. Stay tuned!


Cha-Ling said...

i think it is the exposed midriff and flagrant display of armpitt hair that renders said garment vaguely obscene.

shefali said...

to be fair, let's not forget the shoulder and chest hair.