Is Kinja drunk and going through its old diaries again? For some reason, several of my comments in What It's Like to be a Lesbian in the Lingerie Industry are getting recommended, and so far one non-reader has added a comment of the same shit through-in and through-out the comments to that article. I wrote what I think is a really great stand-alone comment as a way of working through and breaking down much of other frustrating exchanges. Since it deserves more attention, and from readers who deserve the effort I put into it, I'm re-posting it here. I hope that's okay. I'd love to hear more thoughts.
So, I know it's way too late for this post to be noticed by very many, but I've been doing a good bit of reading in the past 24 hours and have some thoughts that might have helped clarify a lot of the discussions I saw and participated in here.
Assertions I observed, usually in multiple forms throughout the comments, here paraphrasing my understanding of what was being expressed: "Lingerie marketing is for men/lingerie is for men"; "It is the correct decision for a company to advertise/market lingerie to straight men, to the exclusion of gay women, because there are more straight men than gay women—profit comes first"; "It is the correct decision for a company to advertise/market lingerie to straight men, to the exclusion of straight-only women, because the lingerie and the fake lesbian fantasy are both for men, not for women—profit comes first"
1) What is Lingerie. The term includes everything from a t-shirt bra and cotton panties, which could be thongs, boy shorts, briefs, or anything else, to elaborate full-body shapers and Spanx, to fetish and bondage gear, to exotic performance attire, to the "meant to be seen" fashion lingerie referenced in the photos above, and most likely to be used in fashion magazines. So for this particular discussion, we are talking about only a small portion of the lingerie market. For this reason, I think the broad claim that all lingerie marketing is for/about men, or that men are somehow more involved/invested in the market is just ludicrous. If you're a lingerie brand, you're potentially selling panties to straight, gay, bi, rich, poor, young, old, fat, post-mastectomy, or literally any and all kinds of women. The market ranges from Wal-Mart to La Perla and beyond.
2) Who Buys Lingerie. Since, in the original article, it's clear we've actually narrowed down to "fashion lingerie," or items meant to be seen, I think a couple of things happen. Consumers are no longer buying out of necessity; hence, the presence of luxury and designer brands increases; hence, the average price increases. For example, Victoria's Secret, the biggest player in the market as a whole, has modestly priced babydolls and waist cinchers for $60-80, but also sells 5 pairs of basic briefs or thongs for $26. In fashion lingerie, you exit the territory in which ALL women buy it, and enter the territory in which women buy something to show to someone else, or where people who have sex with women buy something they would like for a woman to show to them. As with everything about sex between humans, success in this area is dependent upon shared tastes.
3) What Do Men Want To See. I would love to see the results of some serious focus groups on this topic. I have my doubts that a majority of all men, regardless of age, race, or income, would list fancy lingerie. I think "nothing at all/just high heels," "my t-shirt/button-up shirt," "just a thong," and "tight dress with no panties" would all make significant showings among men generally. But who are the men who are into and actually buy lingerie? Obviously, this is my hypothesis, but if you're in the world of luxury items and more money, there probably is a greater proportion of mostly wealthy, power-oriented men who want their expensive gifts for women to actually be for themselves. I would hypothesize that many men who buy lingerie are over 40, dating/sleeping with women under 30, and expect some level of performative sex from the women they buy for.
4) What Do Women Want To Show. I would love to see focus groups on this too. While there are certainly plenty of women who like to play with women, and certainly women who like to fantasize about playing with women, the two-woman-threesome fantasy is a bit narrow. Maybe her fantasy is to be a stripper. Maybe her fantasy is to walk into her partner's poker game in a fancy robe and heels, and flash them all. Maybe her fantasy is to be the next Lady Gaga and wear lingerie down the street. Maybe her fantasy is to put in the most expensive white satin available, and roll around in the mud in it. It's a bit ridiculous to say that the fake lesbian spreads are a sufficient representation of female "how I want to be seen" fantasies. Again, I would hypothesize that those ads and spreads speak to the women who date/sleep with, and expect to perform for wealthy, power-oriented men. I would also hypothesize that women of a variety of ages, sizes, and sexual orientations are interested in showy lingerie, for a range of reasons from "I love to feel sexy," to "I get better oral after I prance around in a fancy-lady costume," to "I love the reaction it gets," to "It's not what I do for myself, but my partner gets really turned on by it, and I like to turn him/her on."
5) How Do Makers of Fashion Lingerie Actually Market Products. The good shit is expensive, and I would say it's a good idea to appeal to men just to get after more pocket-books. However, looking at this link list/review of luxury lingerie brands, ONLY Agent Provocateur offers a Gift Guide for men, and the "celebs who love it" are all women. Though the images are firmly rooted in male gaze (duh) I definitely got the impression that these brands are talking to women, not men, with the exception of Agent Provocateur. They talk about comfort, wearability, support—the kinds of things women consider when buying lingerie—in addition to beauty and sex appeal, and even Agent Provocateur emphasizes comfort/wearability in its online men's guide. http://www.justluxe.com/best-of-luxury…
All this to say, I continue to disagree with the assertion that a sufficient number of male consumers of lingerie exists to justify alienating any women from a brand with stale, fake-homosexual imagery. Women, including the straight-only woman and the gay woman, are going to buy lingerie, period. A significant number of women, regardless of sexuality/orientation, have the means and inclination to purchase fashion lingerie in addition to their everyday purchases, including luxury brands of lingerie. It would be foolish to send them to someone else's more inclusive website for the panties and bras they buy every few months, just to get a handful of men to make a one-time purchase.