Jun 06 2005

Coverage Coverage

Close-up of de-nippled Victoria’s Secret boob

As part of the Twisty Institute of Patriarchy-Blaming’s ongoing research into the American sex class and its consequences, today we look at “coverage.” Coverage is what a garment has when it reveals less of what gives men erections.

For example, J.Crew is currently hawking a “boy-leg hipster bikini” with “full seat coverage.” Never mind the fundamentally insane idea that a bikini–a garment designed to simulate nudity–can offer “coverage.” It is only in the mind of the coveraged that coveraging an extra centimeter of butt-cheek will actually provide indemnity against public ridicule, self-loathing, or unsolicited boners.

“Coverage” is not a word you often see in conjunction with men’s fashion. Imagine:

“The new Armani sportcoat provides maximum coverage while still looking sexy.”
“Is this necktie giving me enough coverage?”
“With all the new see-through trousers out this season, get the coverage you need with new PakageProtektorâ„¢  Briefs, now with our patented KokBlokâ„¢ panel. Colors: Tequila Sunrise, Pago Pago, Tourmaline, Air.”

But no. This season you will perceive nary a dude frolicking down the avenue in see-through pants. That’s because men’s sartorial decisions are not expected to achieve an impossible balance between “virgin” and “hooker.” Rarely can they expect violent repercussions to result from their choice of undergarments. Male costuming reflects utility, comfort, the fact that the world is their oyster, and, in an unfortunately declining number of cases, taste.

But the opposite is true for women. We’re the sex class, baby, and with that high honor come exigent fashion responsibilities. In order to avoid smiting society a crushing blow from which it can never recover, the pre-menopausal among us must strive to project just the right amount of desirability. Too much and we’re sluts, which disrupts male cohesion by inviting harassment and rape. Too little and we’re frigid, which disrupts male cohesion by failing to respond to it. Get it? Women’s sex appeal is the lifeblood of patriarchy, but it is such a mighty, unfathomable force that it can be decanted only under rigidly controlled conditions and only in exactingly measured increments. All regulated, of course, by patriarchy. This is where coverage comes in.

The degree to which a woman wraps herself in fabric is a statement of her relationship to male desire. This relationship is so meticulously monitored that in certain parts of the world deviation may result in violence or death. Even in the US, subtracting an inch of material here or there can make headlines, cast the FCC into turmoil, and permanently damage delicate jesusbag psyches of TV viewers drinking beer and watching pro football.

So nipples are now illegal. They are too sexy! Men can’t control themselves when they see one! Even the Desperate Housewives get theirs photoshopped out! You must nip those boners in the bud with coverage, ladies!

I mean, check out this $45 bra from misogynist cheap crap lingerie pusher Victoria’s Secret. The company says they spent 2 years developing this thing, which is astonishing, since it’s not a cure for cancer. All it does is hide nipples. But these days nipples are protrusia-non-grata on the boobal landscape. Victoria’s Secret can’t even say the word “nipple.” They call it “the apex of the bust.”

Fun fact: I found out while researching this essay that Pamela Anderson is Canadian! Coincidentally, she is currently appearing in “Stacked,” a prime-time TV show about giant breasts from which nipples have been prohibited by network censors.

Another fun Canadian fact: Victoria’s Secret sends out over one million catalogs per day. They are printed on paper made from the deforestation of the Canadian wilderness.


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  1. Ray

    Shhh. You’re not supposed to say “boner”.

    Say “apex of my patriarchy”.

  2. Twisty

    Ray, you’re overqualified for this stupid blog! This stuff is gold! GOLD!

  3. Rene

    Although I’ve never seen one in real life, I’ve heard tell of a special nipple bra, which is the opposite of the special coverage bra. I read somewhere that Jennifer Aniston used to wear one on Friends. It’s a special bra with built-in prosthetic nipples for women who want to look as if they’re going braless but who also want their boobs to look round and not too saggy. Weird, very weird.

    And speaking of boobs on TV, I watched the 1977 miniseries Roots on DVD over the weekend. It starts out with a scene in Gambia, in which topless Mandinka women are carrying water and doing other National-Geographic type stuff. I don’t remember anyone making a fuss about this back when the show originally aired, but maybe it never occurred to anyone to get upset because, after all, they’re just third-world nipples and not regular African-American nipples like Janet Jackson’s.

  4. Twisty

    Your nipple bra story reminds me of when I was a rock star. We were doing a CD release shindig where we all had to wear wedding dresses, so off we went to the Hullaballoo warehouse for wardrobe fittings. The only dress I could find that sort of fit me had much excess boob-room. This vexed me, so I was sent to Famous-Barr to buy a pair of what I enjoyed calling “explants”–rubbery bra inserts meant to simulate giganto-boobs. They came in nippled and un-nippled varieties. The nipply ones cost more. Oh, the good old 90’s.

  5. Kyra

    I remember reading a magazine article a few years ago, in which half a dozen or so men were interviewed on their thoughts about fake nipples. The general consensus? “They’re sexy but it’s a huge disappointment that they’re fake.” Which seems to be the general consensus on most forms of artificial “improvement” such as Wonderbras and cosmetic surgery. Ugly or fake, take your pick.

    There’s a second problem, though, with the Western expectations of dress: on the one hand, we have pressure from, society, the patriarchy, the retailers, guys, et cetera, to dress one way, but then we have pressure from other people, such as other parts of society and our mothers and other parts of the patriarchy, to dress in a different way.

    If I dressed the way my mother wanted me to dress, I’d be acceptable to one group and frigid/frumpy/dowdy to the other group, and if I dressed as fashion dictates and most guys seem to prefer, I’d be acceptable to them but slutty/skanky/trashy to the others. And I wouldn’t be happy with how I looked either way.

    Empowerment, I think, is each person wearing what SHE feels good and confident and comfortable in, and possessing the ability to either ignore or be rude to anyone who thinks SHE should abide by THEIR fashion sense.

  6. Helen Sonsoles

    Hey I just noticed-I don’t really shave my legs- no one even says anything anyway!

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