This is Part 2 in my series of articles about products that are unnecessarily gendered; for example, make-up, skirts, heels, and in this case, underwear, and in particular about underwear and lingerie. In the first article, we adopted the hypothesis that the difference between underwear and lingerie came down to functionality vs aesthetics and that crucially, gender was not an element in that discussion.
When I Google “Men’s lingerie” I get 96 results. When I google “women’s lingerie” I get 3,010,000 results and honestly, I’m surprised the number is that low. Unisex lingerie? Just 61 results.
So it’s clear that if I want to buy something that’s more than just a minor variation on what I can buy in Tesco, I need to do some work. It seems, on a closer examination of the aforementioned and frankly piss poor 96 results, that lingerie for men falls into three categories and we need to do some work to unpack these findings.
Category 1: when there’s practically no difference from regular underwear
Here’s Men’s lingerie and sexy underwear from Inderwear.
Look familiar? It’s hard to make an argument that the majority of these products prioritise aesthetics over function. Yes, they may look nice, but in the end there’s only a superficial and cosmetic difference between these and supermarket pants. No shade on them, I’m sure they’re fabulous products.
But we’re confining ourselves to questions of form, functions and aesthetics and in that respect, it’s hard to categorise these as lingerie rather than underwear. If I were a more cynical enby I might even speculate that they’re only described as men’s lingerie to take advantage of the increase in searches for “men’s lingerie”.
Category 2: lingerie for men that is specifically designed to look like women’s lingerie
There is a percentage of men who wear men’s lingerie deliberately because they want to look or feel more feminine, but lao recognise that men’s lingerie fits better than women’s lingerie because of they way individual items are made.
You may immediately have thought, “crossdressers”. Perhaps you thought, “drag queens, obviously”. There are other use cases, and we’re going to look at those in more detail later. But for now, take a look at X-Dress…
to see what I mean.
Category 3: lingerie designed for men
Now, this is going to be a very subjective distinction and some people aren’t going to see a distinction at all. This last category I consider to be ‘lingerie, cut for men’s bodies, using styles and fabrics that were stereotypically described as feminine’.
The difference is this: lingerie in this category is for people who see themselves as male and want to portray themselves as males; whereas lingerie in the previous category is for people who wish to make themselves look more feminine, possibly even to the point where they pass as women. The distinction comes from intention, whether they intend to look more feminine or masculine*.
Brands in this category include Moot…
* I appreciate that individuals assigned male at birth but who don’t identify as male (people like me, ackchewelly) might also want to wear this lingerie, not to appear more masculine in this instance, but simply because it fits better.
So that answers the question of what men’s lingerie is. The next thing to consider is whether men’s lingerie even needs to be A Thing, and whether we should just wear women’s lingerie and not be weird about it. That’s in part 3…