Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The ick factor: panties

Is it wrong to decide against perservering with a book when you come across the term 'panties', used without irony?

As in: 'As he seized me by the waist, and whispered in my ear how much he loved me, I creamed the lacy panties I had bought for the occasion.'

When it's the author speaking - about herself - on page 11, it kind of makes me think that I can't keep going in her company.

Grown women don't buy 'panties' for themselves. They buy underwear. Or knickers. If they buy panties AT ALL, they buy them for their pre-teen daughters.

And don't get me started on the anti-eroticism of grown-ups talking about creaming their pants ...

Am I a prude, or is this entirely reasonable?

19 comments:

Kath Lockett said...

No, it's entirely reasonable. Not to mention sane, normal, sensible and tasteful.

At no time in my life have I ever said 'panties' when referring to myself and I don't ever intend to. Yuck!

Ariel said...

Thanks Kath! I suspected as much ...

Frogdancer said...

Reasonable.

Sounds like something a male writer would say...

Elsewhere007 said...

Panties are for panty-sniffers.

I remember being confounded by the word 'scanties' in My Brother Jack. However, I think it's much more playful than panties, like a predecessor of 'smalls'.

Jacob said...

I, too, hate the word panties. It just sounds like a word that exists only in the minds of horny men with only a vague understanding of women.

It's why in straight porn women wear translucent stilletos to bed. When has any woman ACTUALLY done that?

Ariel said...

'Sounds like something a male writer would say...'

Exactly. When a woman writes like this, it seems to me that she has internalised the 'horny male' gaze that Jacob describes. Ick.

Elsewhere, you're right - scanties is playful and suggests 'smalls' rather than infantilising a woman, as panties does.

cristy said...

Actually everything about that passage creeps me out: creams more than panties, but that's not saying much.

Ariel said...

Exactly.

cristy said...

I meant "creamed". Eew, just typing that makes me feel icky.

Mark Lawrence said...

entirely reasonable.

Frogdancer: 'Sounds like something a male writer would say...'

Well, not all of us. While I didn't quite realise how objectionable 'panties' is until my partner very strongly pulled me up on my use of the word early in our relationship, I wouldn't use it now at all. 'Undies' is pretty ok, though. but you can't really 'cream' ones lacy 'underwear' though - not in the breathless tone the author was going for.

Then again, I agree with Ariel. Creaming anything but butter and sugar for a cake is a real turn off.

Penni said...

YUCK. My eyes, they burn.

Helen said...

That woman obviously has a severe fungal infection and should get to a doctor ASAP.

As dear dead Barry White said *wipes tear* "I don't want to see no panties".

("Unesse" - Our new line of frilly cream unitards.)

The Man at the Pub said...

It's a bit coarse, but straight to the point perhaps.
What is it about "panties" that women hate so much? Funny how some words drive people crazy.

Ariel said...

Maybe it's the way 'panties' is usually said - cue leering tone. I can't speak for other women, but my issue with it is:

1) it's infantilising - little girls wear 'panties'

2) it brings to mind hormonal adolescents and 'panty raids'

3) it brings to mind grown men who are still hormonal adolescents on the inside

Mark, yes, undies are absolutely fine. It's an affectionate abbreviation.

I think panties is adding 'ie' to a word that already exists, as in babytalk - undies is shortening the word 'underpants'. If someone said 'put your socksies on', you would assume you were being talked down to, wouldn't you?

Anastasia said...

Absolutely EVERYTHING about that sentence is wrong. The two words singled out, and the general bad writing. No nuance at all!

Rochelle said...

Both the "creaming" and the "panties" are entirely disgusting. I agree.

Lou Swinn said...

Awesome post, Jabberwock. Twice I have edited out the word "panties" from something that would otherwise have gone to print. My main problem with it is: who actually SAYS panties in real life? There is the occasional type who would, though: yucky characters, by all counts, though not necessarily someone who wouldn't pop up in good fiction. But as a general rule, if someone said panties I'd probably openly guffaw.

blue milk said...

Very reasonable.

Ariel said...

Lou, you have done the reading world a service. I tip my metaphorical hat to you (twice, once for each time).


Anastasia, Rochelle & Blue Milk - thanks for the confirmation. I think this is my most popular post ever! Who'd have thought it?