Do We Care If They See Our Underwear?
[image via velo-mama]
Ah, the topic of underpant visibility whilst cycling in a skirt! It is truly one of which we lady cyclists never seem to tire. Some enthusiastically discuss methods of tying down the skirt so as to curb its treacherous revelations. Others advocate wearing leggings. But as I cycled to various meetings in different parts of Vienna today in insane mid-day heat, I suddenly simply did not care. And neither, I noticed, did any of the Viennese ladies on bicycles around me. And, more importantly still, neither did the men.
Noticing this made me think about why it is that we tend to be so concerned about whether our underpants are showing as we cycle. Is it a personal sense of modesty? Or is it because of how men look at us? For me, I have to say it is the latter. In the US, if I am not wearing leggings under a skirt while cycling, it is almost inevitable that a man will shout something at me or meaningfully look at me in a way that I find unpleasant. That is why I wear leggings, and not because I am inherently ashamed to show my underwear. Despite the theoretical progress in gender relations, I think it is unsafe to evoke a curiosity about my anatomy in strange men.
By comparison, in Vienna the men don't seem too interested in examining women cycling in skirts. Perhaps it is a deep-rooted cultural difference when it comes to gender relations, or perhaps it has something to do with the fact that there is a nudist beach just down the river. Whatever the reason, it is a welcome relief. If they don't care, then honestly - I don't either. If only that sense of liberation were enough to deal with this horrible heatwave!