25 April 2009

Men’s underwear: genocide or just the death of taste?

The following [controversial?] article was published in The Times – April 11th 2009.

What are your thoughts? Has the fashion industry taken men's underwear too far? Or, is it about time that men had more choice in the underwear department?

‘On Fire : Pinky Khoabane’

The ultimate madness must be the men’s thong.

Back in the day, the jewels were considered a very precious and delicate commodity that required comfort and breathing space

There is nothing more confrontational than being in a men’s underwear department. Not even the constant stand-off between Israel and Palestine matches the antagonism displayed by the half-clad no-brainers paraded on the packaging of men’s underwear.

(Excuse me, but I have never had much respect for the modelling career. I have nothing against models personally, but I have a serious problem when they start passing of as work what is just sheer showing off of their genes. )

I remember the days when you never saw anyone buy underwear. In those days, underwear was just that — under-the-clothes garments that were private. Buying it was a discreet matter between customer and shopkeeper. The only issue of discussion was, for men, the size and the price.

For women, it was the price and the colour. Nobody discussed size with women, especially of an undergarment nature.

But in today’s world, department stores are laden with wall-to-wall displays of men’s crotches accompanied by chiselled six-packs, and a menacing look that says “come and get me”.

The array of choice is boggling for anyone , but men’s impatience with shopping must be pushed to the brink by the different styles, colours and shapes.

The much-derided Y-front briefs have come a long way. Today we have an assortment of choice that borders on the ridiculous: string bikinis, boxer shorts, knit boxers, low-rise-no-fly briefs, ones that reach to the knees, ones that come halfway down the thigh, the “next-to-nothing” briefs, ones that are considered the Wonderbra of men’s underwear, and the list goes on.

But the ultimate madness must surely be the men’s thong. Do men really have to wear this ?

Surely men’s underwear needs to have a fly that opens if it is to be functional, unless men are now expected to pull their pants down in order to urinate?

The big question must surely be: what happened to men’s jewels over the years to warrant such an explosion of teeny-weeny and altogether very tight undies?

Back in the day, the jewels were considered a very precious and delicate commodity that required comfort and breathing space, hence Y-front briefs — loose, and of a mesh fabric so as to allow the air to circulate. The thinking behind the Y was to eliminate all forms of pressure so as to facilitate the promotion of male fertility.

As anyone who has studied elementary biology knows, sperm is very touchy. It dies at the slightest provocation. A slight increase in temperature or weight gain has a dire effect on its production. And snug-fitting underpants are weapons of mass sperm destruction.

Who is behind this crazy trend that could see sperm obliterated from the face of the scrotum wall? And what would be the purpose? Many may laugh this off, but it is very serious.

According to the New Zealand Medical Journal, the quality of Kiwi sperm has declined dramatically as a result of tight underpants. Research from other countries confirms that Kiwi men are not alone. French, Norwegian, Danish and Scots men are suffering a similar fate.

The only people who stand to gain are those twits in the fashion industry who are so besotted with their looks that they probably don’t see the need for procreation anyway. For as long as they can make enough money to put their bodies through the constant scalpel of those extreme-makeover vultures and have some money left over to sustain their cocaine habits, screw everybody else.

At the centre of what should surely be considered genocide are ordinary men. Pity the poor blokes. For most men, the thought of buying underwear must be sheer hell these days. Having to face that many male crotches and chiselled bodies just to be able to cover your own backside must be the height of humiliation. And being among the less-endowed must also add another dynamic to an already low self-esteem. After all, these models have frontal bulges that would make any grown man shiver with intimidation.

The bulges may not look real, and rumours that they are fake abound, but what remains is that an impression is created that is hard to shake off. In fact, so rife is the chatter about the size of the bulge on models selling men’s underwear that footballer David Beckham is rumoured to have stuffed a sizeable chunk of his grandma’s curtain down there for enhancement purposes during his Armani skivvies advertisements.

Walking through a male underwear department these days is nothing short of creepy. Frankly, I couldn’t keep my eyes open from plain, simple embarrassment.

A guy behind me ran around the display aisle like a dog chasing its tail. He was completely outclassed by the men in front of him — in looks and physique — and had lost the ability to clinically execute what may seem like a simple task. In the end, he left empty-handed.

If this is the fashion industry’s strategy to get back at men in mainstream industry for looking down on them over the years, then it surely is working.

But the male ego will not tolerate the insufferable conditions thrust upon it by the underwear industry. Being the sly creatures that men are, they are now sending their wives and girlfriends out to buy their underwear. They gladly go shopping among the eye candy.

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