Why do women hesitate in drying their undergarments in public?

Not drying the undergarment in the open is not healthy. Why do women hesitate to drying their undergarments in public?

“Dikhana ka cheez hai jo bahaar dikhayenge?” says Poonam while we ask her why she feels uncomfortable drying her underclothes in public. She said “aacha thodi lagta hai aise bahaar sukhte hue”, it is your underclothes, made to remain under your cloth. If it becomes visible outside, it won’t look nice, it won’t feel nice. On our counter question for what’s that that does not make her feel nice, she said, “sharam aata hai dikhta hai toh, bahaar chaar log dekhenge, aadmi dekhega toh usko mann dusra hoga, aise aacha thodi lagega”.

What could happen if women’s undergarments are dried in the open?

“There’s nothing that can happen but it just doesn’t give a good vibe to a viewer you know. The country we live in, we are always taught to not show the undergarments and hence, we don’t show it. It’s cultural. No matter where you go, you will not find women’s undergarments kept or dried in the open.” speaks to other women as we were speaking to Poonam.

Also, if a man sees the undergarment of a woman, it can amount to arousing their sexual desires. “Saamne se koi aadmi dekhega to uska mind distract ho jayega na. Jaise mere husband bhi mujhe mana karte hai ki undergarments bahaar mat sukhao” she said. The larger idea for why women don’t prefer to dry their undergarments in public is because they fear their garments can arouse sexual desires of the men who see them.

Some answers on quora suggest –

“I used to hide it, as my mother told me to. My friend also told me a story about how she caught her brother’s friend masturbating while watching her bra.”

“Well, because my bra tells the size of my breasts…I don’t want them to see the sweat spots on my bra.… I don’t want my brother or another male visitor like his friend to accidentally find my bra and imagine or masturbate about my breasts.”

So basically, this is a case of tabooing yet another thing for women, because men get aroused by it. And the entire idea of hiding the undergarment is so internalized that it’s hard to even find why women hide their undergarments. It’s seen as just something they are supposed to do to be likable for the family, and to fit in the morally policing codes of cultures, patriarchy and the society. 

The act of not drying the undergarment is not just restricted to enforcing yet another taboo but also increases the risk of wearing poor-hygiene undergarments. We spoke to Dr Aditi Tandon, Obstetrician-Gynecologist who has explained how improper washing and drying methods can lead to poor undergarment hygiene and can lead to bad vaginal health and infections.  Here’s what Dr Aditi Said –

Q: What’s the best way to wash and dry the undergarments?

Dr Aditi: You should wash your underclothes using soap. You can either hand wash or wash them in a washing machine. For drying, they need to be kept out in the sun (Wet underwear allows microorganisms to thrive and cause a variety of illnesses, including ringworm, urinary tract infection, and pubic skin disorders. Bacterial development in the fabric can be reduced by drying panties in open places or in direct sunlight. Source)

In the rainy season, you can dry the garment in a room with the fan on. Some women may be embarrassed of drying their undergarments in the open but there’s absolutely no shame in drying your undergarment in the open. And in a way to keep the undergarments hidden, one must never dry them in the bathrooms or cover them with other clothes as it will always harm and not let the undergarment dry completely.

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Q: What can happen if one wears inadequately washed or dried undergarments?

Dr Aditi: The inadequately washed or dried undergarments can lead to becoming more susceptible to vaginal or urinary infections and if you already have vaginal infections, this may get worse. The most common infections that we see are fungal or yeast infections and they may not get completely treated if your underwear is damp, as the damp environment will support the growth of fungi. Hence, it is of utmost importance to keep the area dry even after you pass the urine or stool. Apart from this, there can be other bacterial infections like trichomoniasis and bacterial vaginosis. With poor undergarment hygiene, the bad bacteria may predominate and this will lead to an imbalance in the PH of the vagina. 

There’s also an entity called non-infectious vaginitis which is basically due to the area becoming sensitive to certain irritants like perfumes or soaps, synthetic fabrics, tampons and sanitary pads etc. To avoid this, always wear undergarments of cotton fabrics and avoid usage of these irritants.

Also, what’s of utmost importance is knowing what’s not normal about your vaginal health. If you have any foul-smelling or discoloured vaginal discharge which is associated with any itching or irritation, redness, swelling or pain, then this is not normal and you must consult your gynaecologist.

So, all in all, your undergarment is just a piece of cloth and there’s absolutely no need to hide it. Hiding it is absolutely not important, required, useful or healthy. Choose your health and hygiene and dry your undergarments just like other clothes and stay hygienic.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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