Friday, December 07, 2007

Those God-Awful Undies

Gift-shopping time is upon us, and advertisers are out in full force playing on whatever values, fads or stereotypes they can in order to sell their goods. I have become interested lately in how advertisements portray gender and relations between men and women (and children) in mainstream media. I'm thinking of writing a brief article on it in the Spring at the encouragement of one of my Professors (never before have I wanted to write so much about so many things that are not my thesis, and so little about the thing that is. I suspect the two concepts are related).

Anyway, I would like to express my extreme ire about the "Property of" underpants that are popular these days. These are various styles of undies that are emblazoned with "Property of Tom" or "Mike's" across their fronts or backs. Here's a fine example:



"Property of Joe Smith"



Harmless and cute? Maybe. But think about what message they communicate. If you are the property of a man, what are your respective rights? Didn't you cede access to yourself to him? If he owns you, can't he do what he wants with you? Oooh, subrogation is sexy! Think I'm taking it too far? The actual tag line to this ad is "Here's a good way to let him feel like he owns you!" I'm not kidding. See for yourself.

"Oh," you might think, "don't get your (unowned) panties in a twist! Relax! It's a fun way to flirt with your partner." Sure. Say, have you seen those sexy man-undies that say "Property of Susan?" No? Odd, I wonder why not. Perhaps it's because it's laughable in our society to think that a man could be owned by a woman in the same way a woman could be owned by a man. Or you might counter by saying that it doesn't exist because men just wouldn't buy it so there's no market for it. I tell you that we're both right, and in fact are making the same point.

Please don't misunderstand me. I am not insulting the incredible, fulfilling intimacy and trust that can exist when sharing yourself completely with your partner. What I am critiquing is the societal encouragement of women (and even more dangerously, girls) to sell, objectify or subrogate their bodies to men in the name of being desirable or cute or sexy. Subrogation isn't sexy!

4 comments:

Melanie said...

I actually did write a whole paper on this matter for a senior seminar I had on Race, Class, and Gender in the Media. It's an interesting subject to research.

E said...

Actually, I think I would buy some men's "Property of" undies. I think my sweetie-pie would get a much bigger kick out of that than having his name on my undies. He'd think they were funny.

Quirky said...

Ohhh, look at it this way: At least the paramedics know who your emergency contact is if you get in an accident. You know how your mother always said to wear good underwear in case you got in a car wreck and paramedics had cut your clothes off of you? Well, now they would just know who to call too. :-)

Quirky said...

Ohhh, look at it this way: At least the paramedics know who your emergency contact is if you get in an accident. You know how your mother always said to wear good underwear in case you got in a car wreck and paramedics had cut your clothes off of you? Well, now they would just know who to call too. :-)