All to briefs

Now, let's turn our attention from universities to underpants.

Some years ago my friend Emily confided to me that she felt more confident when wearing good underwear. Ever since I've often reflected on this, probably partly because I was always keen to see Emily in her underwear.

At the time I thought it explained how deep her commitment was for aesthetics. Later, while studying feminism at university, I wondered if it was an example of femininity as masquerade, the argument that being a woman in Western society is largely a matter or wearing the right combination of make-up, clothing and attitude or something. I think this was in Judith Butler's discussion of Joan Riviere.

Anyway, for me underwear has largely been a practical choice. It's something I rarely share with anyone and, when it's serving its function, it's out of sight and mostly out of my mind. For this reason I'm often amazed at how much underwear costs, it seems exorbitant the idea of spending more than a few dollars. So I was a bit cross when one former girlfriend named stole a pair of my boxer shorts as a souvenir and, when the opportunity presented itself, I stole them back.

Boxer shorts have been my choice of undergarment for the last decade or so. I like the looseness and, when I learned I had a low sperm count while writing an article on donor insemination, it seemed a healthy option too.

Recently my partner fell pregnant with our third child and I began to get annoyed at how the cheap boxer shorts I'd bought were becoming uncomfortable, the elastic waistband was becoming abrasive because the manufacturers have been saving on cotton by not folding it over at the top and the waistband would get those little balls. (If you know what I mean!) So the option of briefs, where you can buy seven pairs for less than $10, started to appeal to me.

I was amazed to discover they also appeal to my partner. As soon as I tried on a pair and asked her opinion, she started acting very affectionately and said she'd always preferred briefs. It's been nearly a couple of months now and I'm still amused how she'll stop what she's doing to watch me walk to the shower in my new undies.

I can take confidence from that.