Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Everyone Likes Panties. Don’t They?

Dorian Katz is a sometimes writer, sometimes performer, full time visual artist and a troublemaker. She is also my girlfriend.

Even though she’s my girlfriend, you can probably have some panties she’s worn, if you like. I suppose I should explain that. She’s currently working on a project that involves panties; hers, yours, friends’, strangers’. Lots of panties! To be exact, Dorian is sending her panties out in to the world as part of a chain letter.

Dorian with panties

She wears a pair of panties and then folds them up and puts them in an envelope with a letter. The letter asks the recipient to send three pair of their own worn panties out in to the world. Two go to new people of the sender’s choosing. One goes to Dorian. When she receives panties with a return address, she draws a picture of the panties and sends it back. The idea is that at every step, the number of panties returning to her will double. Lots of panties!

So, you may ask, what exactly is this crazy lady doing with all these panties? That’s not entirely decided yet. They might be sewn together in to a quilt. They might be dipped in polyester resin and made into a sculpture. They might be ground up in to tiny bits and made in to paper. I’m not sure that what becomes of the panties is the most important piece of the project.

Aside from the obvious silliness, there’s a lot going on here. There’s definitely sex. There’s attraction and maybe a tiny bit of revulsion. There is the contrast between the current dominant culture obsession with “cleanliness” (hairless, odorless, colorless, bloodless) and the (remarkably mundane) fetish for soiled panties. I think above all there is risk.

There is the risk of offering an intimate gesture that might be met with disdain or rejection. Panties are intimate. Sending your panties to dozens of people is not as easy a thing as it might seem. I’ve watched Dorian wonder if people will think this is creepy or if they will respond in a way that she finds creepy. I see her pushing herself beyond what is her usual comfort zone and hoping that others will push themselves a little in the same way.

Right now, I’m trying to decide who to send my panties to. I’m carefully considering my options. I don’t want to send them to someone who will take it as an unwanted sexual advance. I don’t want to send them to someone who will take it as an invitation I don’t mean to extend. I don’t want to send them to someone who won’t send their panties out in to the world. This gets complicated. Whoever I decide on, I will be nervous about what they think of getting my panties in the mail. Whoever I decide on, my heart will beat a little faster when I drop the envelopes in the mailbox. I can’t say that it’s very often that art makes my heart beat faster.

If you have not yet received a pair of panties with a charming chain letter, and would like to, you can start by sending your panties (not laundry fresh) to Dorian with a note expressing your interest in participating. The note is important. With no note, she will mistake your panties for those of someone who has already received the letter, and only send a drawing. She will send you panties she has worn along with the letter and a drawing of your panties. She even includes form letters for you to include with the panties you send to others. Once drawings are sent back, there will be no record kept of who has sent panties. All contact information will be destroyed. You don’t need to worry about being on some Panty Watch List or about being embarrassed in some other way.

You will notice that I have not revealed the contents of the chain letter. I promised Dorian that I wouldn’t. There is only one way that you get to read it. I can only tell you that it’s funny.

Send your panties to:
Dorian Katz
PO Box 20461
Stanford, CA 94309

13 Responses to “Everyone Likes Panties. Don’t They?”

  1. Cameron Says:

    I’d be willing to participate – but I need to know – as a butch dyke transboi, I wear men’s underwear. Does that disqualify me???

  2. Marlene Says:

    You are totally qualified. Think of “panties” as a universal term. Old jock straps are very very very butch panties, but they’re still panties.

    Y-fronts = panties
    boxers = panties
    weird old bathing suits = panties

  3. Ezmyrelda Says:

    I would also like to participate. I am femme lesbian transgirl. I do wear panties. Am I qualified to send panties? Yes, I understand how odd my reply is especially considering the response above. Totally serious. =) And really? Unwashed? as in recently used?

  4. Marlene Says:

    Ezmyrelda,

    You are most definitely qualified! Except for the fact that I use the word dyke more than I use the word lesbian, I am too.

    To be clear to everyone: there are no gender, race, age, religion, orientation, size, ability, or any other restrictions on who can participate. There are also no restrictions on what sort of underwear you send.

    Yes, unwashed as in recently used, as in mine went straight from ass to envelope.

  5. Marlene Says:

    NOTE:

    Dorian has asked me to say that folks under 18 years of age should not send panties. Exchanging worn panties can be seen as enough of a sexual act that there is some potential for a problem there.

    Apologies to any younger folks interested in participating.

  6. Cameron Says:

    OK, will be rounding up a pair of my boxer shorts. But I want to vent here for a minute – and please – I love your project! I think it’s great! Activism (for something), humor and art mixed with an edgy taboo feel…nicely iconoclastic there!

    But what got me was the title of your blog…”Everyone Loves Panties, Don’t They?”

    I have been walking around for several days mulling and stewing over this post trying to figure out why, when I love the whole concept, it jerked my chain as well. It’s the blog post title. (and DON’T change it! I’m venting. No harm, no foul!) The answer is…

    No. I don’t like panties.

    Panties for me are not a generic term for the small items of cloth we put on ourselves as a layer between our bodies and our outer clothing. “Panties” mean one thing…and one thing only to me. Feminine underwear…deliberately feminine underwear.
    And I have had a hate relationship with panties for years. Like most clothing for women, they are not substantially made. They rip. Seams come out. The sprout threads. They – for me at least – are not comfortable to wear. Most of them don’t fit me well. They creep up the crack of one’s ass. The elastic is effective for a matter of days, and the stretching begins. They bunch and sag or are cut tight and “sexy” in a manner that is only for male purposes…not for feminine practicality.

    And GOD, do not get me started on thongs! (Caveat – these are my personal feelings. Other women – a lot of them way butcher than me do not share them. Nor do I expect them to.)

    I finally rebelled and went regimental for quite a few years. This was when I was identifying as a butch lesbian after even more years of struggling to be a nice straight housewife. (don’t choke). Panties became a symbol of the oppression of that time for me – my own mental trap I was in, my husband’s (then ex, now deceased, sadly) porn and underwear fetishism which had a dark side, the marketing and selling of women as a package for male sensibilities…none of this is new to you, I’ll bet. Just insert the rest of the over wrought feminist rant here…

    So I pitched panties, period and went bare under my jeans, shorts, whatever…and that was good.

    About 2 years ago, I finally ran into the ultimate (for now) realization…I am trans. FTM…Female to Male. But I also still felt comfortable as a butch lesbian. Stuck in the middle again…
    So I identify as both…

    I had been presenting a “male” for quite a few years before this (not all out drag, but simply wearing men’s attire period.) and when I realized that I was trans, the last big puzzle piece of my life fell into place as to why and what.

    And then the queenly gay boys got involved.

    My gay friends were rebuilding their closets – the one that holds clothing!- and dumped the contents of said closet on me – it cut out the Good Will middle man.
    In the pile was – you got it…several pairs of mens briefs. Jockeys. Call them ANYTHING but panties.
    I, laughing, put on a pair for my wife to see me in them…
    And the laughter stopped abruptly.
    They fit. They were comfortable. My gender bruised psyche heaved a sigh of relief as a weight I had not realized was still there lifted off. I hit the men’s department the next day, and rebuilt my underwear drawer! It was as if there was a congruent “click” between what I was wearing and what I am that had not existed before. It was identity affirming.

    And the shorts the gay boys gave me 2 years back, still fit comfortably. Have not worn out with repeated washing. No rips or holes.
    And for God’s sake, a pad for a period STAYS PUT when you have to wear it! Who knew? (the torture of being a FTM and dealing with a period is another rant, another day…but the men’s boxers helped ease that too.)

    So…mens briefs, boxers, etc. are NOT panties, in my lexicon. And yes…when I grimly wore a dress to my stepsons wedding (don’t ask….) you betcha…
    the gay boy’s underwear was there giving me strength!

  7. marlene Says:

    (grinning from ear to ear)

    Cameron,

    It seems to me that you very much do love them. You just prefer that we don’t call them panties. ;)

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories and your thoughts.

  8. DreamWeaver - Cameron's Partner Says:

    And yes, 100 pounds ago, Cameron loved me in my little, skinny thongs. And I could wear sexy, beautiful panties. And then I gained weight. A lot of weight. And I went through menopause. And I’m still in grad school, so no money for “quality” panties that might fit.

    And Walmart panties crawl up my ass, if I can find some that fit. And it sucks to have to wear panties made for my grandmother because girls my size don’t get the pretty stuff.

    And no matter what age, what weight, what age, panties have always crawled up my ass. And unlike Cameron, I can’t go without. In my younger years, let’s just say I was always turned on and panties protected my clothing. In my old age, let’s just say I’m menopausal and the pad doesn’t collect my period. Sigh.

    I hate panties. I have to have them… I prefer looking at other women in them! And trans girls in sexy butch boy undies are the best!

  9. Debra She Who Seeks Says:

    Cameron’s rant reminds me of my favourite cross-dressing underwear story — how Ed Wood, the director of the world’s best bad movies, stormed the beaches of Normandy in WWII wearing frilly women’s underwear under his uniform. THAT’S how you kick Nazi ass!

  10. Lynne Murray Says:

    Cameron, love your rant! I think I must be the Body Impolitic token prude–not to mention being Deadly Broke–so I couldn’t spare a pair and wouldn’t feel comfortable anyway sending my underwear into the outside world, But your rant echoed the words that popped into my brain, “Do NOT get me started on thongs!” I also feel that way about stiletto heels. Hey, for those who love those things–whatever floats your boat. But to me underwear that attempts to give you a pelvic exam while you wear it appears to have been left over from the Spanish Inquisition. A gay friend’s verdict on my footwear was that it was, “Aggressively Comfortable.” I feel that way about “panties” as well as “shoesies.”

  11. Cameron Says:

    Marlene;
    “It seems to me that you very much do love them. You just prefer that we don’t call them panties. ;)
    Thanks so much for sharing your stories and your thoughts”

    You are welcome! : )
    Ah, but it is with words and the meanings they acrue that we create our reality and our narratives…I have never yet met a male who called his undergarments “panties” – the word has a derogatory place in the male lexicon – “Don’t get your panties in a wad” comes to mind.
    The word is inextricably linked with the female undergarment in American culture.
    And carries the weight of the meanings that it has become endowed with.
    Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of your project is that you use the term generically, which seeks to change the narrative.
    But it’s pushing a boulder up a hill to get there!

  12. Ezmyrelda Says:

    I think the deal with panties is that they have been co-opted by society as a marker for a woman’s sexuality. If she is wearing something that might disintegrate with a mans look, its taken to mean that she is sexually ready and willing, “Granny Panties” on the other hand are said to be a sign that the time for sex is long over. The problem with these types of generalizations is that Panties lots of different things to women. I know lots of women that wear something sexy even if they aren’t especially interested in getting laid. I know I like to feel sexy, Even if I know theres no chance of someone sharing my bed. Before I transitioned I always hated briefs. They are tight and constricting and never felt like they were fitting right. So I changed to boxers at the earliest opportunity, but those had problems as well. Mainly the top of the inseam slightly chafing the bottom of my scrotum. You have no idea how irritating that can be. Anyway, Long story short.. I acquired a pair of plain jane “hanes her way” and haven’t gone back since.

    I specifically wear panties for my happiness and no one elses.

  13. Marlene Says:

    Dream Weaver,

    While I too adore trans girls in butch boy undies, I’m not sure we mean the same thing by that sentence. Generally, we like to use language that validates the gender with which a person identifies. This usually (but not always) means that “trans girls” is a term that refers to women like me with a trans history. If I were referring to someone who describes himself the way Cameron does, I would use “trans boys”.

    I think I knew what you meant an don’t mean to bring this up to put you in the wrong. After a couple of days’ thinking, I decided that it should be clarified for some of our less trans-savvy readers.

    Everybody,
    Yay for such great comments!

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