The Vagenda

Who Made Your Pants?


I smudge eyeliner, and fall off heels, but ever since I was about 16, when a violet lace Wonderbra and a pair of 8 hole DMs made me feel like I could take on the world, I’ve loved underwear. There’s something about a pair of brilliant pants or a gorgeous bra that just makes me smile. I like underwear – A LOT.
Because of my job, I am 100% immune to the word gusset. My job involves manufacturing pants as a means to create jobs for women (no, I’m not Mary Portas. Here’s what Private Eye had to say about that:
So I call the pants we make super powered job creating pants, and imagine them flying round wearing a cape. And I get asked lots of questions.
Mostly, it’s things like are they comfy, what are they made of, who are the women that make them*. Once though, at a university feminist society meeting, I was asked (by a male attendee…), if my pants were not, ‘provocative’.
Lacking a little in diplomacy, I suggested that if anyone thought that what *I* was wearing under *my* clothes was ‘provocative’ or indeed had anything to do anyone but me they could go and cock off.
But then I started thinking
It had never occurred to me that MY underwear had ANYTHING to do with ANYONE else. I’d pretty much been of the opinion that what I thought looked good in the (web)shop, that was within my budget,  that fitted under my clothes nicely, that was comfortable and washed nicely and kept washing nicely so I wore it often was, in fact, ALL ABOUT ME.
And I realised I was daft to be surprised.
Women’s ‘underwear’ adverts are almost universally ‘lingerie’ adverts, things that paint us all as being all of teh sexeh – just because we’re wearing some pants. Underwear has been almost entirely removed from its function. Bras are advertised based on the cleavage they give, not on how comfortable they are. There is no room for ‘underwear’ to just be ‘necessary clothes that are allowed to be lovely’. After all, they go near my lady places, and we all know that lady places aren’t owned by the lady living inside the body they’re part of, but by any damn person who wants to have a say.
In a world where what a woman wears makes her ‘culpable’ in her own rape, where clothing worn by abused and manipulated children is discussed before their abusers depraved behaviour, where wearing a vest top is only allowed to mean ‘please look at my tits’ why on EARTH should I think MY pants were about ME?
I’ve seen women ACTUALLY BACK AWAY from our gorgeous, comfy, red pants because they’re too ‘racy’, almost as if it might rub off and taint them with harlot. And it makes me sad that what women think is beautiful and gorgeous and FOR THEM might somehow send a message to some else that they don’t want to send.  I’m sick to death of the arrogance which suggests that pants are only allowed to be about SOMEONE ELSE’S enjoyment or appreciation. It’s, frankly, rubbish. And wrong.
Nowadays, my bras are still violet, my DMs have 20 holes, and my pants are gorgeous, through and through. What they’re for, is women. They’re a route to work for my team. They’re a daily smile for me. They’re not bedroom pants, seduction pants, any fucker elses pants. They’re my pants. And anyone who thinks otherwise, like mister chappy at the university, can cock off.
*(Samia, Yasmein, Batol, Zuhra, Asma, Hawa and Sacdiya, since you ask)
-  by Becky John, ethical pants-maker and Vagenda heroine.

5 thoughts on “Who Made Your Pants?

  1. It always vaguely irritated me that Primark (admittedly not known as a bastion of class and sophistication) call their underwear line “secret possessions”. Because, you know, we are all so naughty and kinky choosing not to wander round sans underwear.

  2. What you wear has a direct correlation with your confidence. That’s why, in my limited experience as a gay man, women wear ‘sexy’ things when they feel sexy and baggy comfortable things when they’re having their menses and ordinary neither-one-nor-the-other when feeling neither sexy nor bloated. You know, like they’re real, honest human beings or something.

    The problem seems to be that the media are *still* obsessed with there being some sort of connection between “feeling sexy” and “being provocative”, a shadow of the whole rape-survivors-did-something-to-encourage-it total and UTTER bullcrap that the media also push.

    The media pushing this nonsense then backfeeds on to a certain class of person blaming the rape survivors based on what they’re wearing, and then on to women avoiding clothing that would make them feel confident and sexy and in charge of themselves. The terrible irony is that you’re we’re all less likely to be raped (and mugged, assaulted, conned etc) when we’re feeling confident (and sexy and in control and so forth).

    The bottom line is that what you wear says many things about you, but “rape me” isn’t one of them. We should all be dressing to impress… ourselves.

  3. “What you wear has a direct correlation with your confidence”

    I would say “can have” instead of “has”. I intentionally dress down because it suits me and if people underestimate me as a result that’s their loss and rather funny :) I’m probably overconfident but my clothes have nothing to do with it.

    “We should all be dressing to impress… ourselves.”

    I’m overweeningly arrogant and need taking down a peg or 3