A few years ago a friend gave me a ticket to watch a Brewers baseball game from the Lawyers-Only level at Miller Park, which meant I’d get a peek at how the other half lives.
But I made a horrible mistake. I wore a tank top, and as I entered a bar in the top-secret Fancy Schmantzy Smarty Pantsy Pavilion, a menacing mench who was a head taller and a shoulder wider than me blocked out the sun, pointed to a sign, and said, “No tank tops.”
I looked around. It was ninety degrees outside, so there were tank tops galore. Every one of them worn by a woman.
Just one more reason to want to get inside.
But it occurred to me that what Behemoth B. Bigboy was actually saying was, “No dudes with tank tops allowed.” Aggravating, since Miller Park was built with public money. Every time I buy a new tank top, the millionaires who run the team get another half-penny of my hard-earned pay. I freakin’ own that park. Don’t I have rights?
What was the problem anyway? Armpit hair? If so, why didn’t they just ban the scragglies on everyone?
I am not the only victim of this insidious form of discrimination. “After waiting in line to get in, we were told there was a dress code,” Neverreturn says in a Citysearch.com review of a club on the Las Vegas strip. “Men could not wear tank tops. Not sure why, because (the place was) a dump, complete with chicken wire on the walls.”
Is it societal? It was hot the last time my writers group met, and every woman had bare shoulders, while every man had cotton at least down to his elbows. And when I participated in a romance writing panel a few weeks ago, the room contained exactly one man and two sleeves.
A Match.com article says that tank tops might be “a great option for the beach, but many women want that tank to stay seaside.” A Match.com client named Alicia says the “often-bushy display of armpit hair on a stranger (is) extremely unappealing — not a turn-on in the least.” Alicia also lists in her profile that, “I am allergic to cats, most tattoos and tank tops.”
Men don’t quibble. In a highly intelligent and nuanced thread from a Michigan State University sports board, “If you're over the age of twenty-five,” one Phil McCrackin declared, “you should not be wearing a tank top/cut off shirt in public. The only exception being a pool/beach/gym scenario.”
His nemesis, The Assman, countered with “I wear tank tops to Meijer and shit. I don't care if you don't like it, I sweat easy and ninety-five degree weather doesn't help. So F off!!!!”
McCrackin no doubt thought he’d settled things with, “The pussification of America started when people stopped giving a shit what they looked in public. My grandfather would've kicked my ass if I ever tried to wear a tank top in a restaurant around him.” Then Jahlil Suggs added, “I don't see the problem if your arms are huge and brolic like mine. Gotta show off the gunz for the bitches.”
Puerile and inane, yes—but nonetheless similar to the sentiment expressed by Alicia in that Match.com article: “I think many men tend to wear (tank tops) to show off their biceps and feel manly.”
Oh, yeah…Alicia’s forty-eight, and it doesn’t say how she feels about guys under twenty-five in tanks. Or romance novel cover model Jed Hill’s absolute shirtlessness on Jaci Burton’s The Perfect Play.
I’ve been working out with weights since I was fifteen, but I do not wear tank tops to impress women. I wear them around the house, when I’m riding my bike and to the ball park when it’s hot. The weather, I mean. And, no, I really don’t care how I look at the ball park. Not when the whole show features men who un-self-consciously scratch their genitals in front of forty thousand people.
Okay, so I don’t wear them anywhere else because, you know, the hair thing. Kind of icky.
Ladies, I’ve got no problems with being able to see your shoulders and arms anywhere I go, which should surprise no one. In the Yahoo.com article 5 Outfits Guys Secretly Hope You’ll Wear, Redbook contributor Aaron Traistor says that guys think tanks on women are “pleasantly low-maintenance…simple, comfortable and very sexy.”
To which I say, “Hell, yeah. As long as your pits are shaved.”