I looked in the Marks and Spencer shop window in Liverpool the other day – just as I was passing – and in one there were female mannequins in various states of undress, in the other male mannequins fully clothed.
February is the month of St Valentine’s Day and so there are red hearts, boxes of chocolates and it seems underwear everywhere. Well not all underwear, just panties, bras, corsets, camisoles. There are no white jockeys, see-through vests, teeny-tiny posing pouches. The M&S window captured the true sense of St Valentine’s Day – a heterosexual opportunity for a man to express his deep-felt love for a woman by buying her some knickers. To complete the picture the window designer should have made sure the female mannequins were clutching red roses whilst chomping on chocolates – all in their skimpy foundation garments.
I was taken aback by the creeping sense of how almost everything gets reduced to sex – and sex in its most obvious and unsubtle form, women as sexual objects. So the red and black balconette bras, suspender belts and flimsy camisoles get bought as gifts for women but are designed to please the male gaze. Oh please! Give us a break!
Perhaps it is because male genitalia is seen as ugly that we don’t get the shop window of ripped male mannequins posing in their pouches, thrusting their groins in delight at the opportunity to wear some provocatively cut Y-fronts. Why would I not want to buy my beloved husband a close-fitting and see-through underwear set for Valentine’s Day. Maybe I will!
My biggest objection is that it is all so obvious and unimaginative. Knickers for my Valentine.