Anatomy of the male underwear


I’ll be the first to admit that I was a late bloomer when it came to anything sexual. My parents and I never really did sit down to have “the talk,” as much as my mother attempted to. I would simply cover my ears and hum so I didn’t have to listen to any details of what seemed like a gross concept. I had no sexual experiences in high school, unless you count snogging a picture of Zach Braff at night, always taking a moment to stop and listen if my parents were still awake, as if I were doing something naughty. Going to an American high school didn’t benefit me, either — I basically learned about promise rings and how no sex was completely safe, so one should just wait until marriage — though I did feel like I was a pro at putting a condom on a banana by the end of my health class.

So my references to carnal pleasures came mostly from the unabridged version of the The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (this 13-year-old was just trying to explore her love for Peter — in graphic detail) and the Law & Order with Ice-T in it. This odd mixture, I thought, covered all my bases to hit the proverbial home run.

Then I met the love of my life. I would never use this term lightly — I don’t mean “true love” like in a Cosmo article or a romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl, but real love. I found an oddball like me. One who agreed that babies are simply drunk adults. One who also thought most women be cray cray. One who answered my “Would you rather” questions (“Would you rather have a Velcro beard or afro full of straws?”) seriously.

It was the first and only time I have been steady with a guy, and I quickly learned that Annie Frank never covered the heterosexual male’s point of view of sexuality. I discovered how hard it is for some men to take off their underwear without making some kind of a jig out of it. I also learned that penises have a mind of their own and can even move at night, unbeknownst to their owners. Some men can even get a hard-on from just staring at the damn thing.

Though I never fully understood these parts of masculinity, I always accepted them. However, one concept blows my mind even today: male underwear. Female underwear is so cut and dry by comparison — unless you count all the various kinds, from the brief to the low-cut brief to the hipster. Okay, so maybe female underwear is just as bad. But male underwear is baffling. Their one upside is that they are covered in cool designs of skulls and monkeys, while women usually get stuck with florals or plain colours.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that boxers are basically shorts that men wear underneath their pants — that is a whole other column. What I don’t understand is the little slit in the front. This question has been on my mind ever since I was seven and was allowed to get a pair of male Batman underwear. A photo box somewhere still contains evidence of me using this slit to store the Batman action figure for his safe travel. It seems logical that the slit is for easy access for urinating, right? Wrong. After many pub debates about this subject, I have found no male who has used the slit in this way. Ventilation then? Wrong again. Most boxers are already loose-fitting and are made out of breathable cotton. In fact, I have even seen some male underwear that contains a fake slit, which is sewn shut.

Probably, this frustrating slit comes from the olden days, a once-convenient feature that now has no use other than to continue tradition. Or perhaps it never did have a use; it was just meant to mystify people like me.

Sex education may teach someone to put a condom on a banana, but it should really also teach the basics, like Male Underwear 101.