Field Theory by Hadyn Green



It's 100 days before the Rugby World Cup, and yes, I do have something to say about it, but today… today I want to talk about underpants. Fucking uncomfortable underpants. Working, as I do, for a defender of consumer rights, I feel that I should not have to go about my day without adequate support and comfort. This is an injustice to areas I am rather fond of.

I don't think it's too much to ask that my underwear not cause me pain or require me to make all too public adjustments. I'm pretty sure my "junk" is the usual shape (why would the internet lie to me about that?) so this can't just be me, can it? Every pair of testicle-twisting and scrotum-pinching underpants I owned has now been identified and banished to being rags, so I have been living a comfortable life recently.

After weeding out the final pair, I noticed the trend, they were all Bendon. Even the pairs of rather fetching (you will have to believe me) Bendon Y-front trunks in a cool retro colorway. As a side note, even the Bendon pyjamas ripped within weeks, an event that caused an early-morning courier to get more of a view than either of us wished. Sorry bro.

As with the beginning of many ideas, I had been drinking. The pub conversation turned to this thought I had been batting around of writing about my uncomfortable underwear. I was surprised that the married (or formerly married) women of the group said that they bought all of their husband's underwear. Since leaving home, my underwear purchases have been solely made by me*, so this did make me wonder, how common is this phenomenon, and does it lead to more or fewer pairs of uncomfortable underwear.

I decided to find out a bit more about this, so I did a survey. It was a survey through twitter, which is far from a valid demographic spread, and only asking a few questions, to increase the chances of completion.

A quick note, in the relationship question there was a category " Married or living together long enough to say it's close enough". I will just refer to these people as "married" to make my life easier. Also all the questions were about adults, so buying underwear for your kids was not counted.

Here's the basic summary:

  • Of the 223 responses, 56% were men. There was no cross dressers, so everyone was answering about underwear designed for their body.
  • 72% of respondents always bought their own underwear and 3% never bought their own underwear. That 3% were all married men, except one… who was single, ladies.
  • The majority (63%) of people were married, with 22% single and the remainder in other kinds of relationships.
  • Just over half (56%) of the respondents have at least one pair of uncomfortable underwear. The rest were split 25%/20% between none and many pairs. Nice to know a quarter of you are living comfortably while a fifth of you are squirming.
  • Only 11% of women had no uncomfortable underwear, compared to 35% of men. It should also be noted that the men who never bought their own underwear also didn't have any uncomfortable pairs.
  • No man was the "primary underwear purchaser" of their household, compared to 23% of women. In fact 56% of men had never bought underwear for anyone else. In their defence 32% had bought underwear as a gift.

    I had a sneaking suspicion that, as with shoes, women were more likely to have uncomfortable underwear (as one responder said, "we often buy them intentionally"). As it turned out 25% of women who bought all their own underwear had many pairs that were uncomfortable (compared to 7% of men, of which I would be one).

    So what to make of this?

    Roughly two thirds of people have at least one uncomfortable pair of underwear. And most of these are self-inflicted. Men, however, are fairly contented with their underwear choices. But it seems uncomfortable underwear is the norm and a bane that we may have to live with forever… except the single guy who doesn't buy his own underwear. He's got it sweet.

    *With two exceptions: A very nice pair bought as a birthday gift and a joke sparkly g-string with a humorous sound effect generator in the crotch.

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