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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, September 17, 2007

Geese, ganders, and hypotheticals

You guys know I love hypotheticals. Call 'em instigators to friendly debate. But before we go on, take a good look at the two pics below.

In case you don't get it, let me explain. On the left is a young man, or at least a young man's checkered boxers and jeans. On the right are two young women, or at least their undies and jeans.


So when you see a person - typically a young man - wearing such loose trousers, like the guy on the left, that his skivvies are showing what is your snap judgment, your immediate reaction? And what about when you see a person - typically a young woman - wearing such snug, low-riding jeans, like the women on the right, that their undies and sometimes even their half bare behinds are showing?

I'll be honest. My instant reaction is usually the same, whether the offender is male or female. I usually feel scorn at such a display of poor taste.

However, my second reaction varies, depending on who I'm looking at. We're being honest, right? So I'm a hypocrite. With the guys my scorn is usually followed quickly by intense annoyance. The sight just bugs the hell out of me, maybe because I know that it is a fashion statement that was born in prisons across the country where male inmates' pants sag, because often the inmate aren't allowed belts. That look is nothing to aspire to. With the women, my scorn usually softens juuuuuuust a little and is followed by an old fogyish comment to the effect of "Boy, they sure didn't make 'em like that when I was her age!"

So we find ourselves with this article, posted on MiamiHerald.com last evening. If you don't want to click the link, the abbreviated version is that a growing number of cities across the U.S. have instituted or are trying to pass laws that ban the wearing of super saggy trousers that show off underwear. The logic in every case is that too many young "men" are showing too much underwear, because of big baggy trousers.

Critics say politicians in these towns are unfairly targeting guys who are hip-hop heads, guys who embrace rap culture. Supporters say these guys are being indecent by showing their underwear.

My question is what do the critics and politicians have the bigger problem with, baggy trousers or visible underwear and/or butt cheeks? If it's the former, then their beef is with the baggy look. If it's the latter, then their beef is with the lack of modesty and decorum. And if this is about modesty and decorum, then it doesn't matter how loose or tight one's pants are. The issue is what shows. And if politicians insist on focusing on the bagginess of man pants, then I agree with the critics. I see more thongs peeking out of tight, low-riders on women than I do boxers or briefs peeking out from guy's baggy pants...not that I'm looking for either.

We don't need new laws regulating the waist-band on people's trousers. That's why we have indecent exposure ordinances on the books. If people's underwear show, give 'em tickets and as my grandma would say, smack 'em up side their heads. But if they're actually showing butt skin or loin skin? Arrest 'em for indecent exposure.

Save the passing of new criminal laws for the introduction of new crime.

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28 Comments:

  • I have to admit that my snap judgement with the first photo is disgust that people actually emulate a fashion that, as you so eloquently put it, "was born in prisons across the country". In fact, I become violently irritated whenever I see fashions that emulate criminal behavior.

    My snap judgement at seeing women who show off their delicates? I just roll my eyes and wonder which trailer park they came out of. The practice of showing off one's g-string is simply trashy.

    Oh yeah. I'm real fun at parties.

    By Blogger Queen of Dysfunction, at 11:18 AM  

  • I personally don't want to see either one. Your boxers aren't that cute and your thong makes me cringe and wonder how much a of a track mark you are making on that ass floss that we don't see.

    Either way, didn't your parents raise you better thank that???

    By Blogger Christina_the_wench, at 12:11 PM  

  • I agree, James. The only crime they are committing is one of bad taste.

    By Blogger BobG, at 1:59 PM  

  • Your latest post reminds me of a complaint my girlfriend made the last time she went to a nearby department store.

    All she had to say when she got back without the pants she went over to buy is that all the women's pants now have that low cut waist thing you were talking about - she had a term for it but I don't remember what it was. She said she gave up in disgust and that's why she came back without what she went for.

    So maybe, at least partly, it's up to fashion world to consider whether there are other people shopping for clothes than teenagers :)

    By Blogger Robert Shapiro, at 2:05 PM  

  • I’m with you. Good luck on legislating morality. Young people will always find a way to offend, no matter how far they have to push it. I don’t think we should reward this type of clothing option with so much attention.

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 2:12 PM  

  • It's stupid, tacky, and misguided, but hardly criminal behavior.

    We could make better use of the courts and also fight real crime better if our peace officers did not have to be Underwear Police.

    By Blogger heartinsanfrancisco, at 2:45 PM  

  • I'm with Hearts. For God's sakes, it's underwear people. Or skin. Who cares? I beleive America heard the same uproar at mini-skirts. And what about cleavage? And what about plumber's crack? And what about half-shirts? And what about shaved heads? That's a lot of skin. Oh and there's mooseknuckles and camel toes! Where do we draw the line? It's obvious that our Puritan beginnings still have a deep hold on us.

    Personally, I find bad taste terribly amusing.

    By Anonymous Franki, at 5:03 PM  

  • Personally, I am more offended by their lack of not caring. Bad taste is sometimes poor judgement. However, have a law against it? I don't know - in 10 years it will just be some other fashion faux pas. (I remember when wearing jeans so tight you showed camel toe was in fashion)

    For the younger set - parents should be checking them at the door. For the older set - they'll look back and grimace.

    By Anonymous Karmyn R, at 5:12 PM  

  • I have to admit it does make me laugh when some kid trying to look so "cool" almost trips cause he has to hold up his saggy drawers.

    And the whole showing of the thong thing is simply tacky.

    But neither one is deserving of the time and attention of our government.

    By Blogger Turnbaby, at 8:50 PM  

  • We don't need no stinkin' new laws. I think you're right; if we see naughty bits, there is existing law. And for the rest, I can only quote Dennis Leary:
    "Hey, A****le: pull up your f***ing pants and cover your f***ing a**! And keep you underwear inside your f***ing pants! Underwear goes UNDER your clothes, hence the name 'UNDER-f***ng-WEAR."

    By Blogger C.L. Jahn, at 8:56 PM  

  • Strange, we must have been on the same wavelength today.... I blogged about underwear this morning too and it came from my own laundry basket. LOL
    Atleast I haven't seen my daughter wear hers out of the pants like that.
    It all looks terrible to me. Maybe I jump to conclusions but I feel the pants hanging wayyy down showing boxers says there's a punk kid or atleast one with a really bad attitude and girls with the thongs seem a little too invitational.
    I recently saw an old picture of my Mom on the beach and her bathing suit had a SKIRT attached. That's so much more my style. LOL

    By Blogger CrystalChick, at 9:24 PM  

  • As soon as I saw the pictures I thought, "ick" and then remembered the article regarding some towns wanting to pass laws and thought "ick" again. I like your idea to tie it in with current indecent exposure laws. When my son tried the look several years ago, I got tired of nagging him to wear a belt or buy pants that fit. Typical teen didn't pay attention. One day it irritated me so much I tugged on them while we were shopping. They were so loose, I ended up pantsing him. He was livid standing there in his boxers, but next day the belt went on and am happy to say I haven't seen his boxers or crack since!

    By Anonymous Ilovesofla, at 9:39 PM  

  • I've seen dudes that make it so their whole butocks is out of the pants. I saw this in the bank. Yes there should be an ordinance.

    For girls it just looks skanky.

    By Blogger Hammer, at 9:50 PM  

  • when I see the young guys with their waistlines down to their knees... what do I think

    "hmmmm, grab those puppies and yank 'em all the way to their ankles and yell FIRE!"


    when I see the young women with their thongs all in view
    "grab and snap... and floss those molarses."


    sorry. you asked.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 10:43 PM  

  • As annoying as those "fashions" are the idea that city councils and state legislators believe the measuring a persons britches to make sure the waistband is high enough is a good use of local resource and police time is absolutely outrageous.

    Seriously people, can't our gov't find something a tad more important to deal with than this? Can our gov't do anything other than attempt to further it's control over the mundane as well as intimate details of our lives? How bout just issuing uniforms to the public and having public dress codes? Are baggy pants and low riding jeans a threat to the well being and safety of society? Are people harmed or damaged in any way by this?

    By Blogger Jay, at 11:55 PM  

  • I hope in the legal area, this one becomes a non-starter. I believe you are correct that no new legislation is required. I also don't believe that you can legislate taste. What I don't understand is why the local legislators don't worry about legislation concerning the minimum amount of pepperoni on a 12" pizza to be called a pepperoni pizza. Now that's important.

    By Blogger The CEO, at 12:31 AM  

  • The thing is, see, that if the local legislators get you worked up about whether to 'criminalise' bad taste - you just won't bother about what the national legislators are doing. Specially if it's elsewhere in the world. & maybe we should be.

    Ok, I'm not keen on this fashion either - but I'm even less keen on what's being done nationally & internationally. Fashions pass, I doubt whether certain kinds of politician, & their politics, will - unless they're kept very firmly under watch!

    By Anonymous bronchitikat, at 6:41 AM  

  • Queen, it's interesting. We have the same bias. Not sure why it is that we tend to get angrier w/men who dress this way and dismissive of women who do so.

    Christina, your last line says it all.

    BobG, if we could legislate taste I'd be in trouble too, for what I eat and the stupid things I choose to watch on TV sometimes.

    Robert, the fashion industry has tons of amends to make. It'll be decades before they make up for all the crap they've foisted on us...and that some of us, unfortunately, have bought into.

    WoW, good point. Maybe if we paid less attention the people dressing this way would get bored w/it and quit it...or they could be encouraged by not receiving an hassle and decide to dress even more outrageously.

    HeartsinSanFran, amen! We could use more crack police and hooker police in my neighborhood.

    Franki, you are funny: "...I find bad taste terribly amusing." I confess, sometimes so do I.

    Karmyn R, the lack of caring goes to the mentality today that the world revolves around individuals. And anyone outside the orbit of that person doesn't count to them.

    Turnbaby, I agree. I wanna see the beard police capture bin Laden, before I give two craps about a thong or boxers showing.

    C.L., I couldn't put it more eloquently than Leary.

    Crystalchick, you raise a good point - I'm gonna check out your post on the topic, btw - in that guys who do this seem to be "punks," whereas girls who do it seem to be sending a "look at me" come hither kind of signal? I never thought of that. But it makes sense. I don't know a lot of dudes, punks or otherwise, who try to demonstrate their sexuality by showing boxers or butt cheeks.

    ILoveSoFla, that is funny. Pantsing someone in a crowd is definitely one way to cure this "ailment."

    Hammer, like I told Queen, we share the same bias. Why? That's rhetorical. I don't have the answer, but when I see guys doing it, it does make me angry. Women? I too think they're being skanky and sort of dismiss them that way. But shouldn't I/we be angry w/them too?

    Pamela, that should go in the parenting handbook - drop 'em and floss!

    Jay, of course we're harmed! Kidding. You raise a good point. I'm thinking there are some politicians in these towns proposing laws who have too much time on their hands.

    Monty, I'm with you. There should be a law or an ordinance governing how much pepperoni (or sausage) must go on a pizza before they can call it a pepperoni (or sausage) pizza. Seriously, I've ordered a few that made me want to strangle the delivery guy 'cause there were so few pieces of whatever meat I'd requested on the pie. I propose a ticket and a year's worth of free pizza for any victim of that scam.

    Bronchitikat, good point: this could just be a diversionary tactic. It worked for at least the couple hundred of us who read this post and the dozen-and-a-half of us who debated it.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 9:59 AM  

  • I don't remember now who above mentioned being unable to legislate morality and I do think that is the main issue there. I may not like seeing the baggy pants, the thong and accompanying bare butt of young women but... don't we have bigger fish to fry with respect to laws?
    One thing though that never ceases to amaze, often amuse, almost always grosses me out too, would be men, particularly those with added girth, who sit down and their pants come down in the back to reveal their hairy butts, crack and all. A little more information than I needed to know, much less actually see. But how many of those same men apparently have mirrors at home that return an image making that man (in his pea brain) think he looks just like some super sleek movie star and all women should just fall as his feet in adoration. BLECH! Yucky poo, poopie doo! Bad taste, just pure and simple, bad taste, tacky and gross -male or female!

    By Blogger Jeni, at 11:04 AM  

  • Jeni, tell us what you really think. Teasing. As the kids like to say, I'm not mad at you. At a minimum it's distasteful. And let's be frank. On the wrong body, butt crack can be a horrible sight.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 11:20 AM  

  • I haven't been able to keep my trousers above my skivvies for decades. For me, it's not a fashion statement, it's just physics. If they pass a law, my butt's in a sling.

    By Blogger The Sarcasticynic, at 7:49 PM  

  • My first two thoughs are "Gangbanger" and "slut"(especially if accompanied with the do-me goal posts on her back).

    On the tother hand, those droopy drawers make it easier for the cops to catch them.

    Had to LMAO waching one of them trying to jump a 6' fence when his pants shackled his knees.
    He was still trying when the cops walked up to him.

    By Blogger KurtP, at 11:01 PM  

  • I ain't playin' by Whitey's rules either, James. That's why I drive on the LEFT side of the road.

    By Blogger M@, at 12:19 AM  

  • KurtP, I hear ya. And I guess I can't knock your assumptions, since I have my own. And at least one of mine - the slutty one - is the same as yours. I have a cop buddy who shared a similar story about chasing a young male suspect on foot and catching him easily, because the guy had on overly baggy pants and couldn't hold them up well enough to run at a fast clip.

    Still, as distasteful as I find this "fashion," I wonder if it's any worse than mini skirts or bra-less halter tops. Those can be quite revealing, and I don't see any grizzled old legislators trying to ban them.

    And Matt, you are just the rebel to beat all rebels. I'll bet you drink your milk after the expiration date too ;-)

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:45 AM  

  • My jeans are sagging because I need to add an extra hole to my belt. Or get some smaller jeans.

    I prefer seeing a g-string over pants so tight you see camel-toe.

    By Blogger Evil Spock, at 2:37 PM  

  • This was a great post.

    By Blogger Fairmaiden327, at 7:23 PM  

  • Hiya, James!

    Wow, I missed reading your delightful missives in the last couple of weeks, bogged down as I have been in H-2B visa worker hell (in preparation for the 2008 golf season), but I'm finally catching up!

    I have no liking for such strange bits of fashion, but don't they actually make the pants just look as though the wearer may accidentally drop trou any moment, rather than the wearer really having on pants that are precariously off the fashionable's John Thomas?

    A funny story. When I took my first EMT course in January 2004, I had a bunch of class mates who were young, pretty little women who really loved the low-riders and showing thongs. That's fine. Fashion is just that way. On the first day after we'd had lectures, we had a stretcher class on how to lift and lower patients in the stretchers properly.

    I have muscular dystrophy, so I can lift with some difficulty the 40lbs stretcher when it is empty and we are merely replacing it in the rig. However, I cannot lift it with a patient on it.

    So I had to stand back and watch the cute litte college and high school kids do this.

    How many of those girls were outside on one of the most frigid days in that January, bending over and exposing a good portion of their thonged backsides? Well... too many to count. My immediate thought was that female patients won't take them seriously and the male ones, while likely initially delighted, might well go into cardiac arrest right there - or, at the very least, suffer an amazing bout of priapism...

    Not a good thing!

    But to promote legislature over strange fashion tastes? Come on, folks. No one rose up in anger when the late 50s killer support bras came out!

    By Blogger Aislínge, at 11:47 PM  

  • when i see them on guys I always laugh becasue it looks so stupid... but on hot chicks its fantastic

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:08 PM  

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