Here Are Your Very Queer Underwear-Wearing Habits

In February 2015, Autostraddle launched The Ultimate Lesbian Sex Survey, open to all women who sleep with women. We garnered over 8,566 complete responses and now we’re sharing the results with you, bit by bit. Previously: How Often Do Queer Women Have Sex?, 100 Gayest Places You’ve Had Sex, The Masturbation Habits of Queer Women, 50 Really Fascinating Things You Wanted Us To Know About How You Have Sex26 Bits of Solid Sex Advice and 41 Feelings You Have About Scissoring. Today we’re talking about your underpants!


Back in 2009, we put together a mega-fashion-post about Boyshorts that ended up being one of the year’s most popular posts. It eventually became outdated, however, and figuring out what exactly to do about that is what led us to launch Underwear Week back in February 2013. Y’all LOVED UNDERWEAR WEEK. Why? ‘Cause we love talking about underwear. I could talk about underwear all day! Unless you make me use the word “panties,” which I had to type about 100 times in this article but cannot bring myself to say out loud.

Anyhow, we asked you on the sex survey what type of underwear you usually wear, and you were allowed to select multiple options. Here’s what we learned:

underpants-final

We also asked “How Naked Do You Usually Get For Sex?” and 83.78% said you got fully naked. 2.32% got naked except for a harness (and 3.04% answered “harness” for the type of underwear they usually wear). 5.05% got naked except for their underwear and 4.62% picked “naked except for a tanktop/undershirts/binder/concealing lingerie.” There are a few reasons someone might stay partially closed during sex outside of situational constraints (e.g., you’re in public, you’re in a hurry.) Often lesbian sex involves a lot of tribadism, a.k.a “dry humping,” and underwear can protect its wearers from skin-irritating friction. Or, possibly, some may prefer to remain partially clothed for reasons relating to gender dysphoria or trauma. Others just may find it more comfortable that way! Those who get naked except for their underwear for sex were most likely to wear panties (fully to medium-coverage).

What Brands and Styles Do We Enjoy?

Looking at sales data through our affiliate accounts with Amazon and Shopstyle, as well as looking at top outclicks to retailers from Autostraddle’s fashion posts, I came up with this general survey of some of the most popular brands/styles worn by LGBTQ women:

What Other Factors Impact Underwear Choice?

When you cross-tab underwear preferences with other demographic results, a few things stand out.

First, looking at gender identity:

  • Genderqueer folks were much more likely to choose “harness (RodeOH, SpareParts, etc.)” than cisgender and transgender folks, with 7.4% selecting that option, opposed to 2.36% of cis women, .8% of trans women and 2.21% of agender folks.
  • Intersex folks are more likely to wear “panties (minimal coverage)” than other groups and cisgender women were slightly more likely to wear “panties (minimal coverage)” than other groups.
  • Ditto for lingerie — intersex folks were much more likely to wear it than other groups, with 36.67% indicating that option, and cis women were more likely to wear it than other groups, but not as dramatically, with 20.27% picking that option.
  • Transgender women and cisgender women were more likely to pick “panties (medium to full coverage)” than the other groups.
  • Genderqueer folks were more likely to pick “boyshorts” than the other groups.

Next, I looked at gender presentation. For this question, people were permitted to pick multiple presentations, so keep in mind that these groups are not mutually exclusive:

  • 51.69% of bois, 49% of Stud/AGs, 43.98% of butches, and 44.25% of masculine-of-center folks wear briefs, opposed to 21.8% of the entire group, 10.57% of femmes and 13.39% of femme-of-centers.
  • High femmes were way more likely to wear panties than the other groups. 60.37% wear medium-to-full coverage panties and 63.59% wear minimal coverage panties.
  • 74.8% of femme-of-centers wear panties (medium-to-full coverage), which is the largest segment of any gender presentation group choosing the same underwear option.
  • Only 1.96% of butches, 5.06% of bois and 9.03% of tomboys wear lingerie, compared to 50.46% of high femmes and between 27%-36% of hard femmes, femmes and femme-of-centers.
  • Boyshorts were most popular amongst bois (48.3%), followed by baby butches, androgynous folks, tomboys, soft butches and tomboy femmes, who all had numbers above 40% as well. Boyshorts are least popular amongst high femmes (23%) and femmes (27.5%).
  • Harnesses were most popular for bois (12.64%), Stud/AGs (11.54%) and butches (11.48%). They were least popular for femmes (1.58%).
  • Most likely to not wear underwear at all? Hard femmes, hands down. 10.72% eschew underwear altogether. The next group most likely to bare all are high femmes, at 8.9%, followed by femme tomboys at 8%. Butches are the least likely to go without, with 3.35% (which surprised me, having known many butches who go commando by necessity due to chronic underwear shortage problems), followed by Stud/AGs, with 2.88%.
  • Like the numbers for lingerie and minimum coverage panties, the numbers for boxers showed enormous disparities between gender presentation groups. Only 3.91% of femmes wear boxers, but 52.9% of Stud/AGs and 49.86% of butches do.

Options that weren’t included in the survey but were mentioned in the comments include tights, Spanx and under armour. Those who mentioned “boxer-briefs” in the comments (1.7%) were added to the numbers for “briefs,” and those who mentioned “thongs” were added to the numbers for “minimal coverage panties.”

Finally, I looked at geography and discovered that, of the countries with enough survey-takers in them to produce statistically significant results, the French were most likely to go commando, followed by Americans. Germans prefer panties (medium to full coverage), Irish folks and Australians aren’t too excited about minimal coverage panties, citizens of The Netherlands love their boxers, and folks from France and The UK are more likely to get lingerie than the rest of us.

In conclusion, you’re looking very Shane today.


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Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City and mellowed out in California before returning to Michigan for reasons that are unclear to her now — she is currently plotting her return to the West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2384 articles for us.

56 Comments

  1. 0

    I am LOVING all of the pieces that are a result of the sex survey. Much more satisfying and interesting than a single piece that just lays out the results. Thanks for all the hard work! 🙂 And thanks for linking to all of the result pieces at the top of the article. Makes it easy to make sure I haven’t missed one!

  2. 0

    hey, just wanted to clarify that intersex isn’t a gender identity, but a biological way of being. things get complicated because some intersex people might identify their gender ID as “intersex,” and I realize that including intersex ppl in the “gender identity” category was probably for convenience in reporting stats. that being said, being intersex really isn’t in the same identity category as being cis, trans* or otherwise genderqueer.

    also: HELL YASSSS to all you lingerie-wearing intersex queers!

    XOXY

  3. 0

    Just texted my girlfriend: “From the autostraddle underwear survey “74.8% of femme-of-centers wear panties (medium-to-full coverage), which is the largest segment of any gender presentation group choosing the same underwear option.” Femme-of-center aka lazy femme (aka if I were a straight girl I wouldn’t have to worry about how femme I was) consistently chosing the easiest possible underwear YUP YUP sounds accurate”

    Also this led me to think – have you put out the numbers on what percentage of us identified as what?

  4. 0

    1. Did you ever in your life imagine that analyzing the type of underpants people wear would be a part of your career?

    2. I usually opt to say “underpants” instead of “panties” or “underwear” or what have you.

    3. I’ve been wearing exclusively Victoria’s Secret Pink since high school because they are comfy and hold up better in the washer than other brands. But as I inch closer and closer to 30, I feel creepy about going into the Pinn store.

    • 0

      1. i did not, but as a lifelong underwear enthusiast i feel that this was always in the cards

      2. i love saying ‘underpants,’ it makes me think of superheroes

      3. victoria’s secret pink v-string thongs are still one of the most solid thong options in the whole world — until i found these seamless things at target, they were the only ones who made a thong that wasn’t high-waisted. luckily the internet means i never have to go into the store!

  5. 0

    Wow, I had no idea I was in the minority being a butch who goes commando (as much as possible). Also, it was nice to see that I was in the majority with my underwear choice! Nice post.

  6. 0

    In referring “Women’s Underwear” the Brits seem to use “pants” frequently. I tend to prefer it, but Americans tend to be confused by it. Say La Vee.

    I generally hate Boxer briefs, as they are just too warm, clinging, and irritating (warm, here in Texas, don’t you know). I found a neat substitute on Amazon, they were by Fruit of the Loom in Europe, assembled in Ireland, and delivered from a London address. Full coverage, Egyptian cotton, but not identifiable as either male or female to even a close observer.

    But I do wear “pants” to bed at night, if that helps someone somewhere. Oh, and just mark me down as genderqueer, okay?

  7. 0

    Ok…. so all of you hates the words “panties”…. because it sounds like you are a delicate girly first grade girl…. but what do you want your gf to be wearing when she has that smirky hot smile and giving you a lap dance…. and make you want to get those ….. pulled off of her? just wondering! boxer briefs?

    • 0

      omg, once upon a time — like seriously we’re talking 2005-ish, they had the best boxer-briefs for women I have ever seen. they were tight, they covered your whole entire butt and secured around the top of your thigh instead of mid-butt, they looked just like men’s briefs but the penis pocket area didn’t have extra room in it. it was discontinued and i wept. i think i wrote about this in my first boyshorts article. the next ones they came out with were way shorter, as were the next ones. and it was really hard to find any of them for this post, i think they changed it again! i found two of the old style at TJ Maxx like five years ago and immediately bought both, even though they weren’t even in my size

  8. 0

    You guys, Bonds (aus) make the best pants ive ever had the pleasure of introducing my arse to. The wideband hiphangers are my go-to ‘date-night-lucky-pants-to-inspire-bum-confidence’ underwear.

  9. 0

    Seriously, try Bjorn Borg mini shorts. Fit and quality are great. I was in a panic when the Hanes Authentic Core knickers took a dive in quality and did a pretty exhaustive search myself. You will not be disappointed with Bjorn Borg mini shorts. They are totally perfect for a gender neutral look without all the extra boy fabric.

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