The Case of the Pantyless Neighbor
When I saw the following message in my inbox from one of these neighborhood apps supposed to ‘bring local communities together,’ I couldn’t help but scoff-laugh:
Where to begin to unpack the sheer horror of a vulva wandering loose in broad daylight? And what is the significance of mentioning that the shirt was white? Was OP qualifying herself as an excellent witness, lest someone dispute her account? Something needs to be done, indeed.
My heart goes out to the panties-less ‘offender;’ I don’t seek to minimize the lack of access to mental health resources/pants for someone to dangle their bits in public on a random Tuesday. Anyone who’s been to Los Angeles in the last 6 months can tell you the number of visible people without housing has drastically increased since the pandemic. But if you crack the code behind the hysteria of these ‘concerned’ folk, it seems like what they’re really debating is another person’s right to exist. If only you could crop the ‘wrong kind’ out of your neighborhood picture IRL, Marlene.*
The false equivalency making me snort is that this was unlikely to be a malicious or sexually aggressive action, unlike waving a tumescent (houseless) skin-tube in front of unsuspecting pedestrians and their dogs. If there was a sexual element—exhibitionism warped by mental illness, drugs, and/or capitalism—pretty sure the only one feeling aggressed would be the Panty Police, not her offspring. To a kid, without context, a vulva is just a funny body part and they might giggle, or it might make their day (boys!) or freak them out a little bit, but scarred by a wandering vag? No. Disturbed forever by witnessing mom’s reaction? Absolutely.
Female shame is born of patriarchy but worsened by obscurity; some of us have an ‘outie,’ while others of us have an ‘innie,’ laying in the shadowy realm known as ‘down there.’ Down South, in your unmentionables. How many women have I told to crack out a mirror and have a poke around the puss? Lotsa. Some even complete the assignment, between ceaselessly meeting everyone else’s needs. Some, I never see again.
So, go ahead and take a peek at the entrance to the dark cavern, where the saplings (hairs) curl up under the earth (skin), guarding the warm mulch within, mmm fecundity. I sense Marlene is vague about what she’s packing and would encourage her to get familiar. I am (almost) certain that there will not be worms.
Anyway, how is our Marls so sure the lass in question was homeless? Perhaps it was just a confused suburbanite too accustomed from the pandemic to not wearing pants. Perhaps she was just airing out her cupboard—Gillian Anderson gave us permission to tuck our boobs into our belts—and lord knows I would love to eschew pants for life. Lest we forget that the upskirt shots taken of Britney Spears by the paps back in the day helped paint her as wanton, lewd, and out-of-control and we’re seeing how that turned out. If men expose themselves on purpose, they get a comedy tour.
Finally, Marlene’s entreaty to alert the powers-that-be made me imagine this exchange:
Receptionist: Hello, City Councilman Bob Blumenfield’s office, how can I help you?
Marlene: I saw a lady. Without pants. On Ventura Blvd.
Receptionist: Uh huh. I see. And when was this?
Marlene: Last Tuesday, after lunch. Luckily, we had already eaten lunch because that certainly would have put me off mine [chuckles at own joke].
Receptionist: I will pass on your concerns to the councilman.
Marlene: Think of the children!
Receptionist: Yes, ma’am, absolutely. Have a great rest of your day! [hangs up] What a c**t.
*Not her real name.