Earlier this month I came across an online article published by The Atlantic that really struck a nerve with me. The author of the article Sarah Fentem begs the question “whys is the word panties so awful?” Before reading the article I never really understood why the word “panties” caused me to cringe a bit.
For example when walking through the mall the other day, I passed by the Victoria’s Secret window display and saw it was running one of their panty special. “PANTY RAID! Seven for $26.00 happening now at participating stores.” I can’t help but be taken a little aback when seeing incredibly young girls (maybe right around 12 year olds?) getting geeked about this. I mean does anyone else seem to be disturbed about pre teen buying thongs and g-stings or am I just old-fashioned?
I asked my younger sister who is still in high school if she too felt the same way about the word “panties” and she agreed. She summed it up, “I don’t know what it is about panties. I guess it just sounds creepy or sexual, especially if coming from a guy.”
And like Fentem stated, apparently my sister and I are not alone. Many feminist blogs and message boards have also condemned the word. One website went as far putting it on a list of “Five Words That Need To Be Banned From English.”
“Panties” or literally “little pants” according in the Oxford dictionary, was first used in reference to doll’s clothing. Some people believe the word is an attempt by clothing companies to “infantize” women’s sexuality. Seeing how success Victoria’s Secret is at marketing towards young girls, who could argue? It’s comparable to a fetish of grown women wearing pigtails or talking like babies. Women want to be young again and girls want to look more mature. Can’t we females ever just be happy with our age?
I think what people have to understand is that women’s underwear have the same functional purpose that men’s underwear do. Yet we don’t seem to get quite the same sexual arousal from words like “trunks” or “briefs.” Panties forces us to think about underwear in a sexual manner.
I think the author made an excellent point when she challenged people that argue the word isn’t sexual. “ If you don’t agree, picture your father or grandfather. Now picture him saying panties. I admire a women that doesn’t shudder.”