Sunday, December 03, 2006

The brutality of the panties


This brilliant (does she ever write any other kind?) patriarchy-blamin' post by Twisty Faster prompts me to ask a question I have long wondered about.

Girls, what word do you use for your underwear? Not bras, camisoles, thongs, teddies, fantasy garter belts and so on: your underpants.

[UPDATE: looking at this and the previous post together, I can now see that the subject of this one may have been suggested by the phrase 'pants-wetting' in the last one. Clearly I have some pants issues to work through.]

I've always found the word "panties" to have a major eewww factor; it has soft-porn associations that remind me of letters to Penthouse, and I think I also dislike that gratuitous diminutive -- it's a teeny-tiny girlie version of "pants".

My own preferred word is "knickers". What do other women call their underpants?

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

My Kate refers to hers, mostly, as "Chris's".

(Dying, now, to make a bad joke about purloincloths but, you know...)

Better make this anonymous. :) (Yeah, right Chris, that'll work!)

Georg said...

It's plain and somewhat lacking in imagination but it's 'undies' for me.

genevieve said...

Is that you, Chris?
Vote 2 for knickers! comes from having little kids around I think. Now I'm off to pick my youngest up from an airport (sniff, sniff, he has survived bloody schoolies. Thanks be to all the gods.) What are we doing, posting about knickers on the Sabbath, I wonder?

Pavlov's Cat said...

You know what, Genevieve, I think that must be Chris.

Anonymous said...

Yep, undies or knickers. I agree about the 'euww'/soft porn factor of 'panties'.

redcap said...

Knickers, undies, or very occasionally, dacks. "Panties" is such revolting word - you can imagine it being used by the sort of sweaty little man who wears an overcoat into an X-rated cinema. ~shuddder~

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

knickers or undies. occasionally duds, very occasoinally dacks.

never, never, ever-ever-ever-ever 'panties'. definitely the Euuughhh! Factor. terrible word. just looking at it makes my flesh crawl...

Anonymous said...

Panties... shudder. I'm crosssing my legs as I type. I always think of it as being used by the same kind of man who would refer to women as "ladies". As PC has also hinted, there's also a paedophilic edge there.

Knickers for me.

By the way, Elsewhere has introduced me to the strangely satisfying, unisex term "sluggos" for women's swimming cossies.

Jessica said...

'Undies' for ordinary everyday use. 'Knickers' and 'panties' for when i'm joking around.

Bernice said...

Undies. Though I can see bloomers looming on the personal horizon of old age....

Bernice said...

& what can I possibly say about Twisty? Y-A-H-O-O!!

Zoe said...

Undies, or sometimes funderpants.

I''m always surprised that people react so strongly to "panties". I find it very amusing.

Zoe said...

And perhaps it wasn't the "pants wetting" in the last post that brought Twisty to mind, Ms Cat? Perhaps it was the segue (in comments) from congratulating Chloe Hooper to immediately describing how attractive she was?

Just suggestin'

Pavlov's Cat said...

'Funderpants' is very cute. As for the strength of the reaction to 'panties' ... I can't explain it. Just one of those things.

By the same token, I find myself amused and bemused by the strength of feeling that sometimes attaches to the positioning of the toilet roll. (Only ever felt, it seems, by people who like the end to hang down from the side of the roll that's furthest way from the wall.)

Pavlov's Cat said...

Re Ms Hooper ... Oh, Zoe, I know. Couldn't believe my eyes. Couldn't bring myself to be mean to Chris and then Dean about it, either, but still ...

On the other hand, it does rather beautifully illustrate the point I was making, at least for those who have eyes to discern, like yourself. And I did see it just after looking at an old list of Ten Pet Hates by a well-known and widely respected male blogger, a list that included 'fat chicks', so it kind of paled by comparison.

Anonymous said...

Speaking about comely wenches: Anna Funderpants. (You started this, PC!)

Funny that Twisty's brilliant post has spun-off into a thread about 'dacks'.

Blue said...

We go with undies, daks (as in underdaks) or jocks. Panties has a definite ewwwww factor for me.

dogpossum said...

panties = urk
knickers = yes
dacks = sometimes
undies = sometimes

lucy tartan said...

undies, and this is the universal term in our house.

Can't think of anything worse that wearing my partner's undies. Sorry Chris.

Anonymous said...

I hope, Lucy, that doesn't reflect on his personal hygiene. :\

Anonymous said...

I tend not to wear Kate's.

Chris

Pavlov's Cat said...

Oh I dunno Chris, you might surprise yourself. I remember ...

Oh, never mind.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yeah, undies here too. It's a nice gender-neutral word.

Ampersand Duck said...

Mind you, I was reminded yesterday of the phrase 'budgie-smugglers' for men's speedos, which has to be up there for Australian vernacular brilliance.

Zoe said...

I thought budgy smugglers was only for speedos?

Kate said...

We have undies for the wimmyn and boxers for the men in this house, with the phrase 'tightey-whiteys' used to refer to men's undies of the not-boxer variety, ie, y-fronts or budgie smugglers.

I once lived with this mad Austrian man called Franz who was a tad OCD and he used to do all the housework clad only in his tightey-whiteys, a pair of thongs and rubber gloves. To this day I have very bad associations with that particular style of men's undergarment.

Miss Tickle said...

Knickers (hers) and jocks (his) in our house.

Mindy said...

undies and boxers. Nappies for the little one. "panties" makes me shudder as well. Not sure why.

elsewhere said...

Undies, definitely.

I wonder if the disgust for the word 'panties' has more to do with the way the word is spoken and the kind of person who uses it. I'm thinking here not just men in raincoats at cinemas but also form mistresses at school and other strange authority types from childhood. The word suggests a kind of prudery rather than practicality.

I seem to remember the word 'scanties' being used in _My Brother Jack_ which suggested to me a more outrageous form of panties...unless it was a reference to some other now-deceased item of women's underwear.

(I'm hung over so sorry if I'm not making sense).

Pavlov's Cat said...

'Scanties' turn up in Come In Spinner, too. I think they were a particularly daring, because brief, species of underpant.

TimT said...

Could the term 'panties' be associated with the Comedia del Arte's Pantalone, the archetypical lecherous old man?

Pavlov's Cat said...

Yes, TimT, all the variations (pants, pantaloons etc) are derived from the Romance languages, but I doubt whether Pantalone's lecherousness is more than incidental. It's not the etymology of 'panties' that produces the ick factor, but rather the associations it has gathered in relatively recent times, as of girlie mags, etc; 'panties' was, I have no doubt, a perfectly nice word for women's underpants until the girlie mags fetishised them.

For contemporary women that diminutive has further unwelcome connotations to do with belittlement and trivialising, even if you don't factor in a whiff of paedophilia.

'Panties' is of course also associated these days with one of the current right-wing insults of choice, 'pantywaist'.

tigtog said...

one of the current right-wing insults of choice, 'pantywaist'.

Not that most of them know what a pantywaist is anyway, but it's got the word panty in it so it must be something icky, because panties are for girls!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm new, love your blog. I like to use either "underwear" or [ducks] "panties" depending on context. Underwear is more casual every day useage, panties has a touch of playful irony, which I enjoy.

Zoe said...

I'm with you, pinko Julie. It's fun to say "have you seen my lacy black panties, I can't seem to find them anywhere!" Spose I know who not to say it to now.

Susoz said...

For my child I say "undies", for myself I say "underpants" but every time I do, I think of a past lover from Manchester who told me that "underpants" only refers to male underwear and so women's had to be "knickers". Whether that was Manchester-specific or England-specific or her own idiosyncrasy I don't know.

Miss Tickle said...

Anything lacy and/or silky was always referred to as "lingerie" (ling-ger-ee) or "negligent knickers"!

Mikhela said...

'Panties', as I recall, was the word employed in those explanatory soft-focus books my mother left on my bed when I first started menstruating (can I say menstruating here?). There were no actual pictures of these garments, just some clinical dissections of genitalia and lots of references to men and women loving each other very much.

Definitely undies. Sounds asexual and kind of worn and faded.

Pavlov's Cat said...

'(can I say menstruating here?)'

Certainly can. It is, of course, very daring of you.

Re the men and women loving each other very much thing, don't remind me. This was the answer I got when, instructed in matters sexual a tad too early, my main question was 'But Mummy, why do people do it?'

Over 40 years later, I sometimes think I still don't really know the answer to this question. Her 'Because they love each other' made no sense to me at all at the time, and in the event has screwed me up for life. In some tiny and particularly unconscious corner of my soul I think I must still believe it, which explains a great deal about the dog's breakfast that my love life has always been.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

intersting, I've always heard the word 'sluggoes' referring to men's Speedos, like 'budgie smugglers' and 'dick stickers'. always thought it was a reference to the slug therein ;-)

Anonymous said...

Definitely undies.
"Budgie Smugglers" is one of the best words I've learned in the past couple of years.


Cast Iron Balcony

kate said...

Undies if they have a 'Bonds' or 'Target' label (which most of them do). Knickers every now and then for any underwear. Unawares, gets trotted out every now and then. The aforementioned Ling-er-ee or Negligent for the rarer lacier items at the back of the drawer. Drawers if were just being silly. Daks definitely gets a run, but usually for the Bloke. Never panties, but more because it just sounds sort of foreign to me. In case anyone's interested, the plays on words aren't just because we're talking underwear, it happens pretty much constantly at our house. This leads to conversations in public where we have to remember the real name of things mid-sentence and probably makes us seem a little demented.

cristy said...

Definitely undies.

When I was about 8 years old, I was walking to an after school theatre class and this creepy guy started to walk next to me and ask me questions - "what's your name", etc...

I was trying to be polite until he slipped in the "What colour are your panties?" when I promptly replied that I didn't think that was any of his business.

He replied "I bet that they are white" and I so I finally felt quite within my rights to ask him to "Please go away".

I didn't realise at the time what a dangerous situation I was actually in. The street was deserted... but it seems that my lack of cooperation was enough to send him packing (that day).

Red said...

pants or knickers.

Hate the term 'panties', not only because of pervy connotations, but the faux-innocence. Seems to suggest that *that* area is dirty and needs to be disguised.

Scanties were the rather lovely knickers women wore in the 30s and 40s that looked like flared shorts. They were often made of silky fabric with lace or embroidery and buttoned up the sides. I believe they were rather daring in their day.