Why does lingerie even exist? Do the men actually care? Who can even work the stuff? Sophie White has a theory
My first lingerie foray was in a sex shop in London about a year into a relationship with a guy who would eventually marry me once, impregnate me twice and forget to buy me Friday Wine thrice (three's the charm on that front, after the last rage rant he's never forgotten again – that's love). Thus far there's been zero divorcing, though even one more forgetting of the wine and I may have to commence extraction.
In the sex shop that day I bullied and berated him for about an hour (sexy precursor to love-making, no?) about what he "wanted to get". It was stupid to ask him really because if I've learned one thing in my sexy career – it's that what men "want" is to "get" you naked. Simples. They want all the materials and lace and rubber (yes, you do you, I'll do me) and harnesses OFF YOUR BODY. I know, I know, it's hardly revolutionary – though if you are impressed by my knowledge-bomb feel free to call me the Wizarding Sex Sage (optional) – but I feel for the most part this is the case.
I'm not saying that lingerie isn't good for some people, what I am saying however is that the majority of those people are women. This is the big misunderstanding about lingerie, that it's for men.
An informal study (I put the question out to several of my WhatApp groups) appeared to suggest that my theory was right. Lingerie makes women feel sexy and makes men feel frustrated because the dainty, sheer and lace fabrics are all that's keeping them from the main event: nudity.
The Lingerie Lie, I believe, evolved (like all lies regarding sex) from the movies. Due to ratings requirements, women often keep their bras on during sex scenes to avoid having to put a stricter age limit on a film and I think this is where the 'men like lingerie' buzz originated. That, and the marketing overlords, natch.
Lingerie got a reputation for being about men and pleasing them. The other slightly depressing fact about lingerie is that it's often the go-to first stop for anyone looking to re-spice a relationship that's lost the passion. When friends tell me they're going to invest in some very expensive, very small garments to entice their partner, I always advise trying out a bit of spontaneity first. Sometimes, before getting entangled in a complicated apparatus, it's worth checking if a quickie in the living room will do the job? After all, just like getting excessively dressed up for a special occasion, sometimes being overdressed for going to bed with someone can make us feel self-conscious. Often, all it really serves to do is put added pressure on the encounter.
If, however, lingerie is your jam, I feel you – I like wearing lingerie. What I don't like is the I'm doing something to please a man vibe which is why the Lingerie Lie epiphany gave me a little feminist yay inside. After years spent trying to nail (pardon the pun) what my partner liked in the lingerie department, I finally realised it's nothing, he likes there to be nothing in that department! This meant I could refocus on what it is that I like in the lingerie department. (I'm heroically resisting a strap-on joke here, by the way.)
Of course, this disconnect in our attitudes can lead to us being slightly at cross-purposes in the bedroom (or living room). When one person is trying to prance around and show off their knickers while the other is trying to remove said knicker, it can all get a bit Carry On but this Valentine's Day I'm definitely treating myself to a little something for occasion.