News — October 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Lingerie is not porn.

by

pink bra knickers

About a year ago, while trying to get some work done on the train from Seattle to Portland, I was startled to discover that a couple of my favorite shopping websites, namely Bare Necessities and HerRoom, were blocked for being “pornographic.” Now just to be clear, I both understand and am completely on board with restricting access to sexually explicit material in public spaces. There are no private seats on the train to Portland, and no one should be exposed to pornography without their consent (least of all children). But I don’t think it really hit me until that moment that many people view lingerie as something akin to porn, and that specifically, sites like Bare Necessities and HerRoom (which, let’s face it, are pretty boring as lingerie websites go) are equivalent to porn. How absurd is it,” I thought, “that, for women, buying underwear is an ‘adult activity?'”

In the 12 months since, I’ve thought a lot about how lingerie is minmized in the fashion world. Yes you have your Victoria’s Secret and your Agent Provocateur, but generally speaking, the lingerie dialogue is limited to just three main topics: bra fit, shapewear, and how lingerie is ruining the lives of girls and making it impossible for them to become doctors. The rich, complex world of intimate apparel – the fashion of it, the history of it, the economics of it – is narrowed to less than a handful of “acceptable” topics, with everything else deemed “too sexual.” And I believe that stance has a profound effect on how women, both younger women and older women, see and relate to their bodies.

First of all though, let me just say that this article has nothing to do with being anti-porn or anti-sex. As a matter of fact, I don’t think the ethics of porn has anything to do with this particular discussion. And, of course, I have zero interest in vilifying sex; if lingerie makes your bedroom life better, more power to you. Rather, I want to talk about why lingerie is always assumed to be sexual, and what that means for women’s bodies. And yes, I’m aware that women are not the only consumers of lingerie, but I believe the specific kind of sexualization I’m talking about here happens almost exclusively to women.

As a lingerie blogger and, more importantly, as a consumer of lingerie, I firmly believe that intimate apparel, as the name implies, is a deeply personal form of attire. It can be an entirely valid means to self-discovery and self-expression, and for some people, their underwear is the only place they get to truly be who they are and wear what they want. That is a powerful thing, and it makes me sad that the topic is almost always suppressed in favor of easier, more “socially appropriate” ways of discussing lingerie.

Of course, chances are that if you’re a regular Lingerie Addict reader, I’m preaching to the choir. TLA is a place to talk about the fashion of intimate apparel with a smattering of social commentary, but we’re constantly bumping up against the walls of censure and censorship. From the little things, like emails from readers who wonder what my family think of my “lifestyle,” to larger things, like being disinvited from programs or opportunities because the content of my blog is “offensive,” I am constantly reminded that lingerie is a special case. There’s room to talk about it terms of pure practicality (bras and Spanx) or pure sexuality (either as a bedroom aid or an assault upon our youth), but not much room for any nuance or subtlety between those positions. It’s as strange to me as if the conversation on shoes was limited to orthotic sandals and fetish heels. Obviously, there’s a lot more to choose from in the world of footwear than those two things!

Now I’m sure some will argue that lingerie is different because it’s worn directly on the body, right next to the skin. Specifically, it’s worn on a woman’s body, and even more specifically over areas like the breasts and genitals. And I can understand having a certain delicacy about private areas. But what I don’t understand is the titillation that’s automatically attached to women’s underwear in a way that’s not attached to men’s. Or rather, I should say I do understand it, but I don’t like it.

To assume that lingerie is always about sex ignores the role women have, the role women should have, in determining what their attire means to them. It reminds me of how, historically, “good” women had to avoid makeup, lest they be seen as “loose” women (a stigma I don’t believe has entirely gone away yet, though it is better) or how a woman in pants was seen as scandalous and shocking and “manlike.” It’s taken for granted now that cosmetics and trousers can have multiple meanings, but lingerie hasn’t achieved that status yet.

When intimate apparel is seen as something that exists primarily for sex, it becomes “vulgar,” and, by extension, the bodies wearing it become “vulgar” as well. All of a sudden, an exposed bra strap, a visible pantyline, or the slightest hint of a nipple becomes a disgrace. The body itself is stigmatized, and that stigma has huge consequences. I’ve had so many conversations with women who don’t even know the most basic things about their own breasts and genitals. And that kind of shameful ignorance results in damaging myths, from our idea of what a “normal” or “average” breast looks like to the myth that bras cause breast cancer. A climate where women’s bodies are seen as a problem is a climate that encourages women to be ignorant about their bodies.

Lingerie is not porn. Women should be able to talk about their bodies, to share photos of their bodies, to speak about their bodies, in editorial, artistic, or health-related contexts without being told that what they’re doing is equivalent to sex work. And again, there’s nothing wrong with sex or sex work, but self-determination matters. Women have the right to decide which communities they want to be a part of, and women should have the right to exert some say in how their bodies are perceived. We should feel comfortable talking about our bodies publicly without having to worry about being involuntarily turned into sex objects.

The solution here isn’t to resign ourselves to, “This is the way it’s always been and always going to be.” Rather it’s to discuss why. When someone says lingerie is “nasty,” what are they saying? When someone says I should be ashamed for running this site, what do they mean? When lingerie is seen as equivalent to porn and lingerie models to pornographic actresses, what’s the underlying context? Does lingerie always have to have erotic intent? Or is there the potential for something more? For a broader, deeper conversation? Let’s decouple the concept of “decency” from lingerie, and, in the process, let’s stop shaming the bodies of people who wear it.

Original Content Provided by The Lingerie Addict

36 Comments

  1. Miss Mew says:

    October 1, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I know myself and a bunch of other lingerie lovers are incredibly sick and tired of being objectified. There’s this premise that because we photograph ourselves wearing lingerie, we “deserve” the dirty, inappropriate commentary that comes with it. “What did you expect?” Uh, no. There’s also this irritating assumption that we do this for male attention, which is the furthest thing from the truth. I’d be more than happy to lock everything down and keep it with a female audience. It’s hard for me to specifically vocalize, but I feel very safe with my lingerie sisters! It gets old having people follow you, and when you look at their profile, it’s pictures of their genitals, pictures taken of women without their consent, or a profile consisting of their fetishes without the photographer’s/model’s permission.
    I’m glad you have touched on this subject. I honestly don’t know how lingerie has become so sexualized either. Most of the stuff I own/wear offers more coverage than a bikini, but somehow, people are quick to offer up a label of “slutty.” Since it’s labelled as lingerie, let the pearl clutching begin…
    (There are respectful men out there like underground_undies on Instagram, but I’m sad to see that there are so few and far inbetween.)

    Reply

  2. Miss Mew says:

    October 1, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I know myself and a bunch of other lingerie lovers are incredibly sick and tired of being objectified. There’s this premise that because we photograph ourselves wearing lingerie, we “deserve” the dirty, inappropriate commentary that comes with it. “What did you expect?” Uh, no. There’s also this irritating assumption that we do this for male attention, which is the furthest thing from the truth. I’d be more than happy to lock everything down and keep it with a female audience. It’s hard for me to specifically vocalize, but I feel very safe with my lingerie sisters! It gets old having people follow you, and when you look at their profile, it’s pictures of their genitals, pictures taken of women without their consent, or a profile consisting of their fetishes without the photographer’s/model’s permission.
    I’m glad you have touched on this subject. I honestly don’t know how lingerie has become so sexualized either. Most of the stuff I own/wear offers more coverage than a bikini, but somehow, people are quick to offer up a label of “slutty.” Since it’s labelled as lingerie, let the pearl clutching begin…
    (There are respectful men out there like underground_undies on Instagram, but I’m sad to see that there are so few and far inbetween.)

    Reply

  3. Miss Mew says:

    October 1, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    I know myself and a bunch of other lingerie lovers are incredibly sick and tired of being objectified. There’s this premise that because we photograph ourselves wearing lingerie, we “deserve” the dirty, inappropriate commentary that comes with it. “What did you expect?” Uh, no. There’s also this irritating assumption that we do this for male attention, which is the furthest thing from the truth. I’d be more than happy to lock everything down and keep it with a female audience. It’s hard for me to specifically vocalize, but I feel very safe with my lingerie sisters! It gets old having people follow you, and when you look at their profile, it’s pictures of their genitals, pictures taken of women without their consent, or a profile consisting of their fetishes without the photographer’s/model’s permission.
    I’m glad you have touched on this subject. I honestly don’t know how lingerie has become so sexualized either. Most of the stuff I own/wear offers more coverage than a bikini, but somehow, people are quick to offer up a label of “slutty.” Since it’s labelled as lingerie, let the pearl clutching begin…
    (There are respectful men out there like underground_undies on Instagram, but I’m sad to see that there are so few and far inbetween.)

    Reply

  4. DRJP says:

    October 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Greatest post to date! It is so sad how so called societal norms influence or judge a person and their passions. Being part of a couple where both parties love lingerie being judged happens all to often. We don’t get bothered by those people who would judge but we try to educate them about the wonders of lingerie. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 set from a thrift shop or a $500 pair from a high end brand line any piece can be made sexy or vanilla depending on the person and how they choose to present it.
    I am still amazed how many people I run into that are embarrassed about lingerie. Embrace the fact that there are so many wonderful companies that produce such wonderful things for people of all body types, all price ranges and even for people of both sexes.
    What ever we do, don’t judge others and their passions and don’t think they are perverts or sick because you don’t or cant understand. Lingerie is not pornography, or nasty, but rather one more way we all choose to express are inner light.
    Thank you Cora and all the wonderful things you and your team share with us all.

    Reply

  5. DRJP says:

    October 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Greatest post to date! It is so sad how so called societal norms influence or judge a person and their passions. Being part of a couple where both parties love lingerie being judged happens all to often. We don’t get bothered by those people who would judge but we try to educate them about the wonders of lingerie. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 set from a thrift shop or a $500 pair from a high end brand line any piece can be made sexy or vanilla depending on the person and how they choose to present it.
    I am still amazed how many people I run into that are embarrassed about lingerie. Embrace the fact that there are so many wonderful companies that produce such wonderful things for people of all body types, all price ranges and even for people of both sexes.
    What ever we do, don’t judge others and their passions and don’t think they are perverts or sick because you don’t or cant understand. Lingerie is not pornography, or nasty, but rather one more way we all choose to express are inner light.
    Thank you Cora and all the wonderful things you and your team share with us all.

    Reply

  6. DRJP says:

    October 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Greatest post to date! It is so sad how so called societal norms influence or judge a person and their passions. Being part of a couple where both parties love lingerie being judged happens all to often. We don’t get bothered by those people who would judge but we try to educate them about the wonders of lingerie. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 set from a thrift shop or a $500 pair from a high end brand line any piece can be made sexy or vanilla depending on the person and how they choose to present it.
    I am still amazed how many people I run into that are embarrassed about lingerie. Embrace the fact that there are so many wonderful companies that produce such wonderful things for people of all body types, all price ranges and even for people of both sexes.
    What ever we do, don’t judge others and their passions and don’t think they are perverts or sick because you don’t or cant understand. Lingerie is not pornography, or nasty, but rather one more way we all choose to express are inner light.
    Thank you Cora and all the wonderful things you and your team share with us all.

    Reply

  7. DRJP says:

    October 2, 2014 at 12:23 am

    Greatest post to date! It is so sad how so called societal norms influence or judge a person and their passions. Being part of a couple where both parties love lingerie being judged happens all to often. We don’t get bothered by those people who would judge but we try to educate them about the wonders of lingerie. It doesn’t matter if it’s a $5 set from a thrift shop or a $500 pair from a high end brand line any piece can be made sexy or vanilla depending on the person and how they choose to present it.
    I am still amazed how many people I run into that are embarrassed about lingerie. Embrace the fact that there are so many wonderful companies that produce such wonderful things for people of all body types, all price ranges and even for people of both sexes.
    What ever we do, don’t judge others and their passions and don’t think they are perverts or sick because you don’t or cant understand. Lingerie is not pornography, or nasty, but rather one more way we all choose to express are inner light.
    Thank you Cora and all the wonderful things you and your team share with us all.

    Reply

  8. Courtney says:

    October 2, 2014 at 3:28 am

    I’ll admit that I jumped down here to comment about halfway through this entry, so forgive me if you covered this. I just had so much to say! Like makeup and the way women dress, I think our male-dominated society often assumes that the “sexy” or “attractive” things women do is for the pleasure of men. This is why I think lingerie may be sexual. To a lot of people, they simply cannot fathom that a woman would dress up in lingerie just because she wants to. Just like how some cannot accept that many women wear makeup because they want to and not because men want them to.

    Reply

  9. Nicola says:

    October 2, 2014 at 4:12 am

    I’m currently writing an essay leading up to my dissertation on setting up a lingerie company focused on the fit and teaching women about how a you can get a great fit from a bra. If only people were willing to talk more about lingerie and not see it as ‘porn’ or have that ‘sexual’ stigma attached to it! Great article, I really believe the reason why the majority of women are in the wrong size is because they’re too shy or afraid to go for a fitting or even speak amongst friends about their underwear! Why and when did it become so wrong to talk about lingerie, we advertise and love clothing companies so why should hide away lingerie?! After all a great fitting bra is the key to looking fab with your clothes on isn’t it? Great blog!

    Reply

  10. Estelle says:

    October 2, 2014 at 4:38 am

    I can’t relate to the train restriction thing, I recently spent a month in hospital and bought an internet pass so I could keep working on my (lingerie) website, only to find everything related to lingerie was blocked – blogs, retailers, absolutely everything. It was like they’d applied a filter to block all websites containing ‘offensive’ words like porn, sex and yes, lingerie. For one thing, I was on the maternity ward a month earlier than planned and hadn’t yet bought any nursing bras, and suddenly it was like I was somehow dirty for wanting to do that!

    Reply

  11. Estelle says:

    October 2, 2014 at 4:39 am

    *CAN relate, not can’t!

    Reply

  12. Mademoiselle K

    Mollie Blue says:

    October 2, 2014 at 4:50 am

    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve just started contour at de Montfort and I’ve always seen undies as art and expression of the female form. The course certainly teaches the craft as if its art and technical magic but I’m always bewildered by guys who know me who think I’ve just enrolled in some sort of sex club! Lingerie isn’t porn, but I think people are equating the two because the wilder varieties are seen in porn by the greater(ish) public. Take latex or PVC underwear for example; it still functions as a bra and briefs and I dare say it would be comfortable during a day to day situation but you wouldn’t show the public in the street (within reason) so the public doesn’t see these fashionable intimates as being normal. Also you cant buy them in your local M&S so the act of online shopping becomes a little seedy when you type in latex lingerie and all you get is fetish images! So henceforth taking a lingerie selfie (the nicest form of girly self compliment when your posing and looking all cute and curvy) gets attacked and called pornographic when posted via Instagram or other platforms. I for one think that girls should be taught in schools how to find the right bra and knickers to suit their shape and size and explain everything so no one feels embarrassed when they get their first one. Ideally it could run alongside prepubescent sex ed and I honestly think if girls knew the facts about their bosoms, like everything, they could come to like and respect them and in turn respect themselves due to their greater knowledge and care of their bodies. I was taught how to be prepared for any menstrual hiccup but to this day I still don’t know the first signs of breast cancer or which brassiere is right for me. If that’s not societal norms gone wrong I don’t know what is.

    Reply

  13. Erica Jagger (@ohgoderica)

    Laced Lady says:

    October 2, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Thank you SO MUCH for writing this! Now I finally have a well-written article to send people when getting into this argument.

    Reply

  14. Karolina says:

    October 2, 2014 at 7:29 am

    This is a topic I have so much to say about but can never quite coherently voice it. In every school and university that I’ve been in (yes, including the one that specialises in lingerie), I’ve seen websites like TLA and lingerie retailers blocked as ‘pornography’. In certain instances I was able to get them unblocked by the ICT departments after pointing out how ridiculous this was, but it’s ridiculous that this would happen in the first place. Most frustratingly recently, my phone’s network started blocking them too, until I went through an unnecessarily complicated procedure to allow ‘adult’ content. To a fairly small extent I can understand these situations, as it’s computers making the decisions rather than human beings… But it’s an attitude I see replicated IRL constantly. When I meet new people outside of the industry and they ask what I do for a living or what I studied, there’d be so many assumptions made in that first instance. In these cases I’d hope for the ‘better’ reaction of them treading embarrassingly around the topic, in the worse there’d be a lot of crude jokes to contend with, as though my choice of career made it free for people to make totally inappropriate sexual comments.

    Reply

  15. Morrigan says:

    October 2, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This article is really interesting, I had no idea that people actually write to you to tell you you have a shameful “lifestyle” (WTF ?) based on this blog… I have not even once saw a post including vulgarity here, not a single word that made me feel objectified. Which happens on blogs which are clearly runned by men, for men (like Cervin’s blog, which made me highly uncomfortable…).
    I am really happy to know your blog and was contemplating starting one (considering my growing collection and the lack of french blog on this topic), now I know why there are so few websites providing actual information or reviews on lingerie.
    This has to change, maybe if there were more women speaking loudly and supporting each other about lingerie we could make things change. Maybe I should start my blog to add my own contribution to change ? Even if it couldn’t be as great as this one <3
    Lots of love and support from a healthy minded woman who loves lingerie as she loves clothing, pretty and in an egoistic way o/

    Reply

  16. Morrigan says:

    October 2, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This article is really interesting, I had no idea that people actually write to you to tell you you have a shameful “lifestyle” (WTF ?) based on this blog… I have not even once saw a post including vulgarity here, not a single word that made me feel objectified. Which happens on blogs which are clearly runned by men, for men (like Cervin’s blog, which made me highly uncomfortable…).
    I am really happy to know your blog and was contemplating starting one (considering my growing collection and the lack of french blog on this topic), now I know why there are so few websites providing actual information or reviews on lingerie.
    This has to change, maybe if there were more women speaking loudly and supporting each other about lingerie we could make things change. Maybe I should start my blog to add my own contribution to change ? Even if it couldn’t be as great as this one <3
    Lots of love and support from a healthy minded woman who loves lingerie as she loves clothing, pretty and in an egoistic way o/

    Reply

  17. Morrigan says:

    October 2, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This article is really interesting, I had no idea that people actually write to you to tell you you have a shameful “lifestyle” (WTF ?) based on this blog… I have not even once saw a post including vulgarity here, not a single word that made me feel objectified. Which happens on blogs which are clearly runned by men, for men (like Cervin’s blog, which made me highly uncomfortable…).
    I am really happy to know your blog and was contemplating starting one (considering my growing collection and the lack of french blog on this topic), now I know why there are so few websites providing actual information or reviews on lingerie.
    This has to change, maybe if there were more women speaking loudly and supporting each other about lingerie we could make things change. Maybe I should start my blog to add my own contribution to change ? Even if it couldn’t be as great as this one <3
    Lots of love and support from a healthy minded woman who loves lingerie as she loves clothing, pretty and in an egoistic way o/

    Reply

  18. Catherine says:

    October 2, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    I’d really love to see a French language lingerie fashion blog that was neither fetish nor fit obsessed 🙂

    Reply

  19. Mademoiselle K says:

    October 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    First, let me just say that this is an excellent article! These sort of problems need to be brought up and need to get talken about. Of course there is different sort of lingerie and different ways to wear it, and what one percieve as provocative or sexual migth differ. I guess there is no way to avoid someone being provoced by everything you do, no mater what you do, but it is always possible to change the glasses that society wears (e.g. showing an ancle in the middle ages was an outrage, but the dresses of the late 18th century were cut so low they were meant to cause nip slips), and that’s why this sort of articles and discussions are important! We need to reclaim and unshame our bodies!
    I have come to understand that things are a little different in the states than here in the Nordic countries. I never got the whole strap-showing-thing that I’ve read about in many blogs, I don’t think anyone would raise an eyebrow here if they saw someone with bra straps showing (except from the super prude perhaps). It’s perhaps not regarded as esthetically appealing, but I never met anyone who thinks it’s obscure. But as I said, we’ve got a different climate perhaps, with a feminist party representing us in the EU (they were also expected to enter parlamiament last month but sadly didn’t) and the idea of feminism is widly accepted. Still we have a long way left to go in order to become an equal society where everyone’s body and the clothing they close to put on it is only to be judged by themselves.
    I would like to force everyone to read “The daughters of Egalia” by Gerd Brantenberg, or at least read about it, as it really highlights much of the problems of being forcerd into the norm that patriarchy sets for women by using the reverse perspective. Perhaps not so much lingerie realated, but it’s all linked together, right?

    Reply

  20. Mademoiselle K says:

    October 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    First, let me just say that this is an excellent article! These sort of problems need to be brought up and need to get talken about. Of course there is different sort of lingerie and different ways to wear it, and what one percieve as provocative or sexual migth differ. I guess there is no way to avoid someone being provoced by everything you do, no mater what you do, but it is always possible to change the glasses that society wears (e.g. showing an ancle in the middle ages was an outrage, but the dresses of the late 18th century were cut so low they were meant to cause nip slips), and that’s why this sort of articles and discussions are important! We need to reclaim and unshame our bodies!
    I have come to understand that things are a little different in the states than here in the Nordic countries. I never got the whole strap-showing-thing that I’ve read about in many blogs, I don’t think anyone would raise an eyebrow here if they saw someone with bra straps showing (except from the super prude perhaps). It’s perhaps not regarded as esthetically appealing, but I never met anyone who thinks it’s obscure. But as I said, we’ve got a different climate perhaps, with a feminist party representing us in the EU (they were also expected to enter parlamiament last month but sadly didn’t) and the idea of feminism is widly accepted. Still we have a long way left to go in order to become an equal society where everyone’s body and the clothing they close to put on it is only to be judged by themselves.
    I would like to force everyone to read “The daughters of Egalia” by Gerd Brantenberg, or at least read about it, as it really highlights much of the problems of being forcerd into the norm that patriarchy sets for women by using the reverse perspective. Perhaps not so much lingerie realated, but it’s all linked together, right?

    Reply

  21. Mademoiselle K says:

    October 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    First, let me just say that this is an excellent article! These sort of problems need to be brought up and need to get talken about. Of course there is different sort of lingerie and different ways to wear it, and what one percieve as provocative or sexual migth differ. I guess there is no way to avoid someone being provoced by everything you do, no mater what you do, but it is always possible to change the glasses that society wears (e.g. showing an ancle in the middle ages was an outrage, but the dresses of the late 18th century were cut so low they were meant to cause nip slips), and that’s why this sort of articles and discussions are important! We need to reclaim and unshame our bodies!
    I have come to understand that things are a little different in the states than here in the Nordic countries. I never got the whole strap-showing-thing that I’ve read about in many blogs, I don’t think anyone would raise an eyebrow here if they saw someone with bra straps showing (except from the super prude perhaps). It’s perhaps not regarded as esthetically appealing, but I never met anyone who thinks it’s obscure. But as I said, we’ve got a different climate perhaps, with a feminist party representing us in the EU (they were also expected to enter parlamiament last month but sadly didn’t) and the idea of feminism is widly accepted. Still we have a long way left to go in order to become an equal society where everyone’s body and the clothing they close to put on it is only to be judged by themselves.
    I would like to force everyone to read “The daughters of Egalia” by Gerd Brantenberg, or at least read about it, as it really highlights much of the problems of being forcerd into the norm that patriarchy sets for women by using the reverse perspective. Perhaps not so much lingerie realated, but it’s all linked together, right?

    Reply

  22. Erica Jagger (@ohgoderica) says:

    October 2, 2014 at 11:29 am

    This is the best article I’ve read about lingerie, ever, and I will be sharing. I love lingerie for the reason I love clothes in general: it’s creative expression, and a celebration of my femininity. I have never once thought of lingerie as having anything to do with porn — it’s erotic, yes, but erotic doesn’t equal porn.

    Reply

  23. Doug says:

    October 2, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    The problem lies in the labels, which generally are useless. According to my Encarta dictionary, “pornography” is “films, magazines, writings, photographs, or other materials that are sexually explicit and intended to cause sexual arousal.” By this definition, clearly some lingerie and lingerie marketing is porn. But, as you point out, not all lingerie is porn. As a teenage boy before the internet existed, the Victoria’s Secret catalog definitely qualified as “porn!” I happen to think that Andrew Blake’s films are artistic and tasteful — but, they’re still porn! So what? Dita Von Teese doesn’t mind people calling her a “stripper,” although many burlesque performers take issue with the term. I say pasties are a minor distinction (but one recognized by the law).
    Some of your readers categorically reject the idea that lingerie is sometimes porn, because they find porn offensive. I say, what does it add to the discussion to even ask whether lingerie is porn? The desire to label things usually accompanies moral judgments and prejudices. I say it’s all good!

    Reply

  24. Cora says:

    October 2, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    I disagree. Labels are useful, not just to help people find what they want (both in terms of content and communities) but also because they hold power in terms of how people define themselves…and I believe self-definition is incredibly important. The fact that Dita Von Teese is okay with calling herself a stripper has nothing to do with anyone else’s prerogative to define and decide their own reality. In other words, Dita’s right to self-determination is no more or less important than mine or anyone else’s. We all have the right to decide who we want to be, irrespective of the value outsiders may attach to those definitions. That’s why this blog post is explicitly not about moral judgments regarding either sex work or porn; rather, it’s centered on a conversation about how we should all get to choose the meaning of lingerie for ourselves.

    Reply

  25. Ms. Pris says:

    October 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Doug, I don’t think all readers are rejecting the claim that lingerie=porn because they find porn offensive, but because they do not want to be “pornified” without their consent. It’s about context.

    Reply

  26. Colette Duggan

    Ms. Pris says:

    October 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Not porn, per se, but in the recent media discussions about gender discrimination in dress code enforcement, I recalled something about the dress code when I was in junior high: the dress code required that girls wear “proper undergarments” (meaning girls who the adults determined “needed” bras had to wear them) but it also very specifically forbade visible bra straps. A girl could get in trouble if her bra strap was not hidden at all times. What’s up with that? What’s wrong with a visible bra strap?
    I’ve read that in France, pretty bra straps are a part of lingerie fashion because women expect that they will be seen.
    WRT to the porn thing itself: I am sure that some people will look at images of lingerie and become aroused. For them, lingerie shots are porn. But that doesn’t mean that the shots are intended to be porn or are presented in a way that is meant to be pornographic. We can’t control the mind of another person or know how a particular photo or subject will affect them. I mean, for some people, shoes are arousing: does that mean that shoes are porn?

    Reply

  27. Ms. Pris says:

    October 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Not porn, per se, but in the recent media discussions about gender discrimination in dress code enforcement, I recalled something about the dress code when I was in junior high: the dress code required that girls wear “proper undergarments” (meaning girls who the adults determined “needed” bras had to wear them) but it also very specifically forbade visible bra straps. A girl could get in trouble if her bra strap was not hidden at all times. What’s up with that? What’s wrong with a visible bra strap?
    I’ve read that in France, pretty bra straps are a part of lingerie fashion because women expect that they will be seen.
    WRT to the porn thing itself: I am sure that some people will look at images of lingerie and become aroused. For them, lingerie shots are porn. But that doesn’t mean that the shots are intended to be porn or are presented in a way that is meant to be pornographic. We can’t control the mind of another person or know how a particular photo or subject will affect them. I mean, for some people, shoes are arousing: does that mean that shoes are porn?

    Reply

  28. Ms. Pris says:

    October 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Not porn, per se, but in the recent media discussions about gender discrimination in dress code enforcement, I recalled something about the dress code when I was in junior high: the dress code required that girls wear “proper undergarments” (meaning girls who the adults determined “needed” bras had to wear them) but it also very specifically forbade visible bra straps. A girl could get in trouble if her bra strap was not hidden at all times. What’s up with that? What’s wrong with a visible bra strap?
    I’ve read that in France, pretty bra straps are a part of lingerie fashion because women expect that they will be seen.
    WRT to the porn thing itself: I am sure that some people will look at images of lingerie and become aroused. For them, lingerie shots are porn. But that doesn’t mean that the shots are intended to be porn or are presented in a way that is meant to be pornographic. We can’t control the mind of another person or know how a particular photo or subject will affect them. I mean, for some people, shoes are arousing: does that mean that shoes are porn?

    Reply

  29. Slip Of A Girl

    Saeran says:

    October 2, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Thank you for initiating this discussion! I began my love affair with lingerie with an enthusiastic innocence–I saw it as an extension of my love of fashion and attention to detail. I love beauty–in my clothing, my decorating and in intellectual pursuits. I quickly realized that my love of lingerie was something to be ashamed of–or at the very least something to keep to myself. I have been asked many weird questions like: Are you attracted to women? Are you trying to manipulate men? What are you trying to prove? It’s massively disheartening. The reality is that I love beautiful clothing and looking at lingerie is fun. I’m not attracted to the models (though I think they are fantastic and beautiful), and wearing gorgeous lingerie is for my enjoyment, not for anyone else’s–I don’t even have a boyfriend! I am very tired of feeling like my body is seen primarily as something to stimulate men. Women have a right to dress in a way that makes them feel confident and happy. You can never control what other people will think, but we certainly don’t need the added stigma of comparing lingerie to porn.

    Reply

  30. Dana B. Myers

    Colleen says:

    October 2, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Apple and oranges comparison here. The whole idea of lingerie is for WOMEN. There is no doubt that it is an enhancement and an enticement in an intimate relationship. The mistake that people who attach the concept of pornography is that they assume that it is ONLY an enticement meant to attract and seduce. Lingerie is, to me, a way to enhance and exemplify confidence and beauty. Most women I know, who love wearing it, wear it for themselves. Most people aren’t even aware that women wear it under their clothes to feel good and well dressed. Lingerie is lace, leather, mesh and so many other types of fabrics to create an attitude for a woman, depending on how she wants to feel for the day or an intimate moment. Pornography, in no way that I know, is meant to create a sense of sensuality, confidence or true beauty.

    Reply

  31. Jillian says:

    October 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I love this post so much! I come from the world of pole dance where the same discussion rages on. We are constantly dealing with people’s assumptions of why we do what we do and it is so interesting to see the same thing happen in the context of lingerie.
    This statement particularly rings true to me as both a lover of lingerie and pole dance, “It can be an entirely valid means to self-discovery and self-expression, and for some people, their underwear is the only place they get to truly be who they are and wear what they want. That is a powerful thing, and it makes me sad that the topic is almost always suppressed in favor of easier, more “socially appropriate” ways of discussing lingerie.”
    I feel like this is just another way for women’s bodies to be controlled. People who challenge the status quo and always going to have to deal with ignorant comments. I can only hope that the more people own who they are, whether it’s in lingerie or whatever, the more the rest of the world can be educated or at least drowned out.

    Reply

  32. Lingerie Is Not Porn – An Article From The Lingerie Addict | Beauty Behind the Lens: The Blog

    Jillian says:

    October 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I love this post so much! I come from the world of pole dance where the same discussion rages on. We are constantly dealing with people’s assumptions of why we do what we do and it is so interesting to see the same thing happen in the context of lingerie.
    This statement particularly rings true to me as both a lover of lingerie and pole dance, “It can be an entirely valid means to self-discovery and self-expression, and for some people, their underwear is the only place they get to truly be who they are and wear what they want. That is a powerful thing, and it makes me sad that the topic is almost always suppressed in favor of easier, more “socially appropriate” ways of discussing lingerie.”
    I feel like this is just another way for women’s bodies to be controlled. People who challenge the status quo and always going to have to deal with ignorant comments. I can only hope that the more people own who they are, whether it’s in lingerie or whatever, the more the rest of the world can be educated or at least drowned out.

    Reply

  33. Vanessa Villarreal

    Tiah says:

    October 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    I used to be frustrated at my gym (on their wifi), that I couldn’t look at sports bras- or any underwear/lingerie sites- because they were classed as porn. I mean, W the actual F.
    So I’m so glad you wrote this. Brilliant, brilliant article. I can’t wait ’til society gets that lingerie, or even nudity, does not necessarily mean ‘sex’ but that CONTEXT is what deems something sexual. I have sexual lingerie, i have non-sexual lingerie. I can be naked during sex, I can be naked during the most non-sexual scenario ever (i.e., taking a bath with my daughter) they are all TOTALLY different things differentiated by circumstance, intention and again, context.
    I also find that the ‘lingerie=sex’ mentality is far more prevalent in America than in Europe or Australia. But I don’t think that means we should actively try to desexualize lingerie either. We should be teaching people that ‘sexual’ is not defined by inanimate objects or certain parts of the human body, but human action and feeling.

    Reply

  34. Lingerie expert reviews the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show | Fusion

    Madeline says:

    October 2, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you so much for addressing this issue. As a high school student, I’ve found I can’t openly embrace lingerie without people getting the wrong idea. Most people feel that lingerie is too sexual and makes you indecent. I have had to create a separate Twitter account to enter lingerie giveaways, remove my real name from my Pinterest account (lingerie focused), all because people don’t think that my love of lingerie is appropriate or acceptable (particularly given my age). I’ve also found that people who don’t think lingerie is “appropriate” don’t know their bra size or are stuck on lingerie stigmas. I finally convinced my conservative mother to be fitted at a lingerie boutique, and, lo and behold, she’d been wearing the wrong size and is much happier now that she has properly fitted bras. I think it’s increasingly important that we be aware and comfortable with our bodies, and I’m grateful that lingerie gives me the opportunity to do so.

    Reply

  35. #NotForYourPleasure – Fighting against Rape Culture | Two cakes on a plate

    Kayla says:

    October 2, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Fantastic post, THANK YOU for saying this! I love the analogy of “if the conversation on shoes was limited to orthotic sandals and fetish heels.” You make excellent points and put into words a lot of things I have been thinking, especially frustration and disgust with how lingerie is so often seen as being for men’s gratification rather than for the woman who is wearing it to explore and enjoy.

    Reply

  36. Erica says:

    October 3, 2014 at 10:09 am

    What a fantastic, well-written article, thank you. I’ll be sharing it far and wide, everyone needs to read it.

    Reply

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