Dear Margo: A Man and His Pantyhose

My boyfriend has a pantyhose fetish. Should I break up with him? Margo Howard’s advice…

A Man and His Pantyhose

Dear Margo: I am a 28-year-old woman. I’ve never been married, and I have no children. For the past four months, I have enjoyed a great relationship with a truly wonderful guy. Yesterday, he confided to me that he has a pantyhose fetish. He explained that he gets extremely turned on by seeing women wearing pantyhose and by wearing pantyhose himself. He occasionally wears them under his clothes while he is out in public.

He feels very strongly that I should know about his fetish, and that I should know his feelings about pantyhose are not likely to change. He hopes I can accept him just the way he is, but he will understand if I want to end the relationship. Do you think this is a big enough deal to break up over? — “Wanda”

Dear Wan: Oh, no. This is more common than you think, and some guys go for the whole deal … high heels, wigs, makeup. And they are straight. I salute him for fessing up, and you should regard this as merely a little kink. If it turns him on to see you in pantyhose and to wear them himself, have a ball. Look at it as so much better than needing porn or a third for bridge. And perhaps suggest to him my two favorite brands: L’eggs and Wolford. — Margo, playfully

When Caution = Wisdom

Dear Margo: I am utterly humiliated! I’m 32, the mother of a 14-year-old daughter, “Sarah,” and a general supermom: intelligent, athletic, attractive and competent. My daughter worships me, and her friends think I’m terrific. I’ve taught Sarah to be independent and assertive, and I always try to set the example.

A few days ago, Sarah and I came home from shopping and walked in on a couple of young punks burglarizing our home. Assertive me froze! I put my arms around Sarah and told the guys to take what they want and not hurt us. Thankfully, we were not harmed, but we were left on a bathroom floor bound and gagged with duct tape — safe but feeling helpless and humiliated. Neither of us could get loose, and we had to lie there squirming for hours until my husband came home and found us.

Never during the time we spent bound did Sarah cry, and her fierce efforts to get loose long after I had given up made me feel proud. But her first words when our gags were removed were, “Mom, we could have taken them. Why did you let them tape us up?” Those words punished me more than being confronted by robbers, more than spending hours tied up and gagged. I felt I had let my daughter down. I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the feeling that I gave in without fighting. How do I make this up to her and regain my sense of competence and authority? — Virginia

Dear Vir: I beg to differ. Unless your teenage daughter has a black belt in karate, there’s no way the two of you could have “taken them.” And even if you thought you had a chance, it wouldn’t have been a wise thing — or a sure thing. In such a situation, law enforcement people stress that you acquiesce to avoid the robbers becoming rattled and harming you. The things they took are only things. Your instincts were right, and your daughter’s were immature. (Or she’s been watching too much television.)

This experience was an extreme version of a teachable moment, and rather than feel humiliated or that you’ve failed, make the lesson to your daughter be that the correct response is not to get into a physical altercation with two men — even “young punks” — intent on criminal activity. You in no way let her down, and I hope you will reinforce the wisdom of behaving as you did. — Margo, sensibly


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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59 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Deborah Key says:

    Virginia is making the rounds. . . in the other version, she’s a shop owner and the shop is robbed. And sometimes the daughter’s name is Sally. Its always an assertive mother/daughter combo who comply with the robbers, don’t get hurt but the daughter turns on the mom for complying.

    This is not a case of the LW writing to multiple columnist hoping at least one answer. This is somebody taking the mickey. I don’t get that. Donate a pint of blood or something useful.

    • avatar Margo Howard says:

      Deborah – I loved your phrasing: “Virginia is making the rounds.” Oh, well, what’re you gonna do?
      Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. avatar kermie says:

    Margo, I differ with you on Letter No. 1! “A little kink”? That would be a deal breaker for me. I consider myself open-minded, but ewww. Sorry.

    • avatar chuck alien says:

      no, you are in no way “open minded” … so stop considering yourself that.

      this tiny, insignificant kink has exposed your hypocrisy.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Chuck, did you have a bad turkey day, or did someone just pee in your Cheerios?

        It’s always such a delight to have you show up on a thread…what with your intellectual insights and brilliant but scathing observations. You do understand that one person’s kink is another person’s normality is yet another individual’s perversion, do you not? Why, chuck, that’s what makes us all unique and special and makes the world go ’round! Kermie(in no way assuming anything about you, kermie) may have preferences that would make your skin crawl…would that make you less than open minded? I knew it would!

        Everyone has something that doesn’t just push the envelope…it tears it wide open. What is insignificant to some is enormous to others. I truly am a to-each-his-or-her-own person, as long as the activity does not victimize the truly innocent (such as children, and I do mean children, and live animals). Just because I would not do it myself (or kermie wouldn’t, or anyone else wouldn’t), does not mean I object to someone else doing it, or that I am not open-minded.

        So, here’s one for ya, chuck. Would you engage in scat? Coprophagia, that is? I am not trying to be disgusting, but I am definitely making a point. If not, does that make you a closed-minded hypocrite?

        Awaiting your answer with a smile.

        • avatar stateoflove_N_Trust says:

          I am not sure how scat or copraphagia is similar to wearing pantyhose. It seems that you went a little bit extreme on that one.

      • avatar kermie says:

        Chuck–I was replying to the letter, not you.  Your strong response must mean you like pantyhose.  Since you aren’t my boyfriend (thank god) I really don’t care.  Okay?  Is that better?

  3. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: His also wearing pantyhose would be a deal-breaker for me. Call me old-fashioned (I’m not)…but straight men who “want to be a girl” in some (even small) way? Turn off. If he were gay, well what the hey; I might expect that and no problem.

    L #2: You followed your gut instinct and did the right thing. Now your daughter knows you’re not SuperWoman – and so do you. She’ll get over it, you need to get more realistic (men generally are still much stronger than us as brute strength goes) and maybe this was actually a valuable lesson to you both?

    • avatar RS Gar says:

      Believe it or not, cross-dressing men are much, much more likely to be straight than gay.

      • avatar Rachel M says:

        I totally agree with you. It could be worse and it seems to be harmless. Maybe as a kid, he saw a beautiful lady with great pantyhose on accident or who knows??

        What a great trust issue that he feels free to share this with you. Maybe he and you will agree that you are both keepers for each other.  :)

        • avatar wendykh says:

          I don’t care. I like my men manly doing man things and wearing pantyhose just doesn’t cut it. Ew.

    • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

      As R S Gar pointed out, most cross-dressers are actually straight men. I’d suggest watching Eddie Izzard’s stand-up DVD called “Dress to Kill” He’s a straight man who occasionally likes to wear women’s clothing, even on stage and in public. He does a great bit about the differences between transvestites and drag queens. I think it would be education to anyone who believes the stereotype that all men who wear women’s clothing must be gay or a closeted homosexual.

      Fair warning, though, he does love to let the swears fly. Just throwing it out there so if you do decide to check it out the language isn’t a surprise.

      I totally agree with you about LW#2, though. Couldn’t have said that one better myself. :)

      • avatar Anathema Teatime says:

        To paraphrase Dan Savage–dump the honest pantyhose fetishist and you may end up with the dishonest necrophiliac. In other words, it’s a good sign when someone can be honest about their kinks–many people just lie and hope they never surface, and that’s much harder to deal with once a relationship is more serious.

        I do think ability to handle others’ kinks comes with, if not age, then comfort in ones own sexuality and in talk about sexuality in general. In college, I had a boyfriend who hinted strongly that he’d like to wear my panties. I thought it was stupid and sort of gross. Twenty years later, I have a boyfriend who occasionally likes to wear womens’ undies. I’ve been able to tell him, honestly and lovingly, that this is really not my thing, but if it makes him happy, I’m happy to play along sometimes. He can be my big strong hairy man in silky undies and I’ll tell him how pretty he looks, and then he gets to do something really nice for me in return. If it were a true fetish (that is, if he couldn’t get turned on without the panties), it might be a dealbreaker. Or if he wanted me to dress him entirely in women’s clothing and treat him like a girl. I’d probably try it once just to be game, but I don’t think it would turn my crank. My point is just that kinks are flexible and usually quite harmless (with the basic caveat found on all kink websites–no scat, no kids, no animals). Being a supportive, experimental partner allows you to try new things and have am honest, open relationship. Sometimes you may find that you partner’s kink really just does not work for you at all. Which is sad, but still better than either dumping them outright without experimenting or just staying silent and ignoring the pantyhose-clad elephant in the room.

  4. avatar David Fleetwood says:

    Letter #2:

    Your response is absolutely dead on. Assertive, confident girls often think that they have a fighting chance against males. In fact, they do not. Women frequently underestimate what higher muscle density truly means. My gf is an athlete, two time junior olympian fencer, has years of karate and tae kwon do, and keeps herself in terrific physical shape. In the first couple of years of our relationship she would go on and on about how if a mugger tried to take her she would make him pay. It worried me to no end.

    Finally I challenged her to a wrestling match. I am not in paticularly good shape. I’m just your average software engineer with few physical hobbies. In no time flat I had her pinned to the ground with both her legs and arms wrapped up and I was using the strength of one arm to do so. She is not ‘petite’ or anything. It was just that simple. She was quite upset for a while about it.

    We eventually had a lengthy chat, told her how much I admired her physical activity, but I also told her the following: “No matter what avoid physical confrontation with a male. If one is somehow forced, hit him in the throat and the testicles immediatly and repeatedly and do not stop until he is flat out unconscious. Even then, be prepared because sometimes pain makes a male go into a rage and nothing you do will stop him. All you can do is run. Please take this to heart, I am telling you this because I love you.”

    Compared to women males are freakishly strong. This does not mean that *some* females cannot take *some* males in a fight. But in most cases, even a black belt in karate will not help a female in a fight against even an average male(aside from teaching them where to hit). The mother did the correct thing when she submitted immediatly. She had her daughter’s safety to consider, and enraging these two by inflicting physical harm would have most likely led them to brutalizing the two of them once they were inevitably subdued. The only other alternative would have been to take off running, which I am guessing the circumstances would not have permitted.

    Hope this didn’t come across wrong or like I enjoy overpowering women or anything. I do not, and about as non-violent as they come. But the illusion put out there that women are a physical match serves to help women in these decisions make very poor decisions. Life isn’t the movies and you are not Lara Croft. And contrary to what your Karate instructor told you, what you are doing is exercise, not self-defense.

    • avatar soznoz says:

      See the thing with a husband or boyfriend fighting/wrestling with their SO is this: Women don’t really want to defend ourselves against them, unless it was a true threat. I know for one I can’t defend myself against my husband properly as to do so, would probably cause him a grievous injury. When I’m fighting someone in a serious situation, I would not have to meter my movements or strength, and also I would feel more comfortable fighting dirty. He does not have to do much to hold me down, but if I were to break his hold, it would probably break his arm.

      • avatar David Fleetwood says:

        I said that above, actually, when I said my point to her was that if she is assaulted, hit hard at vital points like the groin and throat(eyes as well). And keep hitting. The problem is that women often think they can fight ‘fair’ against males, trade blows, etc. One good punch from a guy even to another male and you are seeing stars and reaction time gets far far slower. If it does not flat knock you out.

        You are right, a female *can* defend herself if she can lose all inhibition and fight to win and without fear of consequences, but most people have at least *some* inhibition and will not be able to do this, so unless you really think the person you are confronting will seriously harm you if you submit, you are better off submitting.

      • avatar chuck alien says:

        this is a whole lot of rationalizing for women who just don’t want to believe the truth.

        you ARE NOT PHYSICALLY EQUAL TO MEN. sorry, i don’t make the rules.

        you can go on and and on about this not being a “dangerous situation” … it just doesn’t matter. it’s not a dangerous situation for HIM, either…. so he’s not using nearly all of his strength.

        you can believe what you want… but this is just transparently nonsense. it would probably be better to understand reality than tell yourself these falsehoods.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Ya know, chuck, I am truly starting to believe that you have issues with women who can take care of themselves, due to the simple fact that whenever this topic arises, you begin sneering at the very idea that a lowly female could possible inconvenience, much less incapacitate, a man. I am not quite sure what to make of this, because it is such a demeaning and dysfunctional (not to mention anachronistic) attitude. It bemuses me that you feel the compulsion to regularly assert this sort of negativity on a website that is largely dedicated to women, especially when a serious topic, not a a bit of frivolity, is up for discussion.

          In any case, I am not certain what point you were making in this particular case per the discussion of partner’s wrestling. Not once did any of the women state that they were the “physical equals” of men (thank you for shouting, by the way). Actually, though, let me make an interesting point for you. Per most law enforcement agencies, one of the hardest things to do is subdue a woman in good physical condition who is resisting, especially without the use of artificial (pepper spray or a Tazer) means. Men have (as I previously stated…but your reading issues are showing, therefore I will reiterate) greater…but not freakish…physical strength. They typically have greater body mass and density (bone and muscle), size and reach. But women in decent…not excellent…but decent physical condition typically have two physical aspects which can, in fact, give them leverage when engaging a male physically: greater endurance and a higher resistance to pain, especially pain over extended periods. It’s a simple matter of biology. Also, women are generally more flexible, which can help in a lot of situations. A higher endurance, pain tolerance and greater flexibility makes a resisting woman an enormous problem, especially if she has some physical strength included.

          I really don’t care why you felt the need to assert yourself over the matter of partners wrestling about…as I said, you do seem to have issues with women who have any sort of physical ability or assertiveness. You also seem to delight, for some strange and incomprehensible reason in condemning those who have succeeded in encounters against violent men as either liars (how lovely, chuck) or as violent, nasty, vicious women (you accused me of being a psychopath, I believe, the last time the topic was presented. This time I bothered to explain the circumstances because I was not speaking to a hostile, resentful, irrational boor. I certainly had no reason, or inclination to explain myself to you…but since I’ve already posted, perhaps you ought to take a look at the, as they say, rest of the story).

          Yet, it is important for women to be aware of the fact that there are ways to save themselves. It has been done numerous times, chuck alien, and there is a precedent now, and good, sound advice and methodology for doing so. Perhaps it amuses you to see women raped, tortured, mutilated and killed. Not my call, I don’t know you. But I also don’t understand why a man would regularly post on a woman’s website that we are essentially helpless against crimes of violence by vicious attackers, that nothing we do will help us, and that, in essence, since it is inevitable, we should just lie down and accept our fate.

          What do you get out of this, chuck?

          • avatar Rapunzel says:

            Your responses to Chuck’s posts are crude and violent. People should feel free to express their opinions but you go too far attacking this person. A man has just as much right to post on this board as a woman. You are nobody to dictate what gender of reader can visit this site. 

            Chuck is absolutely correct in saying that normal women are not as strong as men, to deny basic human biology is ignorant. His comment had to do with one particular scenerio. He never said that a woman should not fight back if attacked, but if you walk into your house during a robbery the worst thing you can do is escalate the situation by attacking. If those robbers were under the influence of drugs choosing to attack them could have been a deadly decision.

            Chuck was right in both of his posts, expressing disgust at the idea of a man who enjoys wearing pantyhose is not at all open-minded and women are not as strong physically as men. I am stronger than most women and my sister is a black belt but neither of us are so foolish as to believe we could take a man in a fight.

            I really don’t care what chuck has posted in the past, what counts is what you posted now. Clearly you feel strongly about this poster but here and now you are the one who stepped over the line and even if he was a jerk in the past you have far surpassed him in that respect.

        • avatar Sandra Lat says:

          Chuck, I am a 5’6″ 130 lb. black belt in more than one martial art. No, I may not be stronger than a man(and it depends on the man) but you better believe I can and will hurt him badly. And yes I have been in a situation were I had to physically defend myself against a much larger man and I won hands down. He had two broken ribs and and was singing soprano when I was finished with him. I broke a couple of nails. So be careful in your sweeping generalizations, you just might find yourself getting you head handed to you be one of us “weaker” females.

      • avatar wendykh says:

        This. I ruptured a man’s kidney, broke his clavicle, detached his retna, dislocated his shoulder, and blew out his knee in a fight where he tried to carjack me. Hysterical Strength is real, and I don’t work out. I’m 5’0″ and about 135.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      David, you do have a point. I have black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and I would not use anything that I learned in that skill set to fight with a male. Also, you are correct in stating that men by and large have more physical strength than women. They also typically have more significant mass (bone and muscle), which is why a woman never wants to allow an assailant to force her to the ground.

      But most men are not “freakishly strong”. Also, soznoz is absolutely correct…when you are wrestling with your girlfriend, it is not a life threatening situation, and she is not likely to engage in any activity that actually cause you serious or crippling damage. This makes a huge difference in the wrestling scenario you offered.

      Of course one should always avoid a situation if at all possible. If running is an option, run. But if it isn’t, here is some valid advice. First, do NOT try to harm a man’s testicles. David, I am simply astounded that you advised this. Men protect their testicles first and foremost…not all men are incapacitated by even the most extreme strikes to this area…and many serial rapists now don full protection in the form of padded groin cups before setting out on their adventures. Also, sometimes you have to judge whether or not to escalate the situation. In the case of L#2 (serial advice query or not), remaining relatively calm and being bound resulted in no actual harm being done to the victims. A lot of home invasions that turn ugly do so because one of the victims decided to become “heroic” and when frightened (most burglars are frightened…naturally), nervous, adrenaline-filled men are threatened or injured, it raises testosterone levels, which raises aggression, which can turn a loss of property into violation of one’s person, or loss of life.

      But if you are physically attacked, things are completely different. The face is your best target, but don’t slap (it has no effect), or punch (you will break your hand or wrist). Claw, even if you have short nails. Go for the eyes. This is advised by most self-defense (not martial arts) instructors. Be serious about it. Be dedicated to living. Thumbs or hooked fingers in the eye sockets have saved many lives. Most attackers do not expect the violence of this kind of attack. Forget that ingrained I-shouldn’t-hurt-anyone garbage you’ve had brainwashed into you. If you take out an eye, it will make him let go. If you slip off of the eye, the next best facial target is the lower lip. Digging the fingers into the lower lip and ripping with all your strength is not difficult, is agonizingly painful, and can even separate the lip from the face. This can actually be incapacitating, as can be a hard strike just beneath the nose (most women can’t make the classic death-strike here, but almost anyone can stun a person). Once he lets go, run. And scream. Scream from the beginning.

      Making a throat strike affective enough to drop someone is actually difficult, especially if the man has a thick neck, or is looking down at you. So are accurate knee and foot strikes (all of these are really martial arts techniques). And sticking around to make sure that your opponent stays down…I might, because I know exactly how to make him stay down…but most women should run away as fast as they can. Also, if you are in a parking lot, and you are a small woman, getting under a parked car can sometimes save you if your assailant is a large man (and not armed with a gun, which many rapists are not, because they are too obvious, and not as easily disposable as knives).

      As far as men being able to physically overcome women the vast majority of the time because of their freakish strength, let me just say this: my first husband was a factory worker who outweighed me by about 70 pounds, and he was furious because in every wrestling match we had (and he did get very serious and physical), he couldn’t pin me. My second husband couldn’t either. My dear R. can, but he says it is a delightful struggle, and he’d truly hate to actually have to fight with me. I am most emphatically not bragging, but I am making a point. I am a small woman with a mixed light/medium frame. I am not threatening in appearance, nor am I a violent person by any means. Yes, I have a black belt…because I love the discipline, control, exercise, challenge and physical and mental benefits of martial arts. I did not so much love the sparring…because too many of the women I sparred had something to prove and a need to hurt their opponents…when it is supposed to be about technique and form.

      I have been required by circumstance to fight four grown men because I was in danger of physical harm. In two cases I attempted a verbal resolution first, in the other two I was attacked in a facility for mentally retarded adults (no security, right after Mr. Reagan closed all of the government institutions) by psychotic individuals. The other two must have had a mental challenge or two themselves, as they were intent on imposing their dubious affections upon my person. None of the altercations lasted more than 60 seconds…and none of them got back up. One of the institutionalized men left me bruised and with a wrenched back, sitting on him with him restrained in a double arm lock. It was not pleasant at all. He ended up where he belonged as did his fellow resident, in a hospital for the violent mentally ill. This all happened before I turned 21 years old…a long time ago. But never underestimate a woman…any woman. This was long before I had any training, by the way, and these were not small, girlie men.

      As for L#2, if I had been in that situation, I am reasonably sure that I would have sent my son running for his life out of the house. The letter does not indicate whether or not the intruders were armed or not…but if they did not have guns my child’s presence would have been enough to motivate me. His life is more important than mine. As it stands, the letter does not have the ring of truth…which is something that I have never said about a Margo letter before.

      • avatar MooneeLass says:

        With you all the way on this one, Briana. So-called martial arts – at least as taught now in most Western countries – and self-defense are quite different things. I’ve never studied the former, but I was 14 when, following an attempted attack on me by an adult male stranger, my father taught me how to flip a man over my shoulder. (When it came to the next step i.e. how to break your assailant’s arm, I learned the theory and pressure points, but stopped short of the practice). Self-defence followed in my 20s: we didn’t learn high kicks or throat chops, but rather where and how to pinch, twist, jab, snap, punch and rip with enough speed and force to give ourselves time and room for a getaway, even from many “freakishly strong” men. Even more important, we learned to value ourselves enough to offer serious resistance if and when some psycho decided that he was going to let loose his aggression on a socially acceptable target – which is what, for many men in Western cultures, women still are. (Not the same as “taking him” or “teaching him a lesson” – it’s about your own survival, intact. Of course, should you manage to seriously hurt or damage your aggressor in the process, that’s a gratifying bonus).

        Which is why, incidentally, I’m astounded that anyone would tell his girlfriend that “unless you really think the person you are confronting will seriously harm you if you submit, you are better off submitting”. Come off it, David. Police files everywhere are full of the details of what happened to people – often women – who followed that advice when faced with someone who, sure, was in their house or car or a dark laneway when he shouldn’t be, but wasn’t actually *violent*. Far too many of them have wound up brutally assaulted and raped, or dead. Statements of that kind, or your earlier “Assertive, confident girls often think that they have a fighting chance against males. In fact, they do not” have an unpleasantly familiar tone through their modern phrasing: that of the calm, reasonable guy explaining to the overwrought little woman that she *needs* him to protect her from all those other “freakishly strong” men out there – and if she doesn’t understand that, she’ll just have to be shown her place. That attitude has left the women who bought into it over the years (and, indeed, centuries) far more vulnerable – and far more seriously damaged – than any of them needed to be.

        • avatar erin machniak says:

          Fight to kill, be ready to die.

          These are the rules I live by.

          By the way you are not better off submitting unless you are lucky. You will most likely be raped and killed.I’d rather die fighting even if I might have “gotten off light” with a little rape and torture.

          This also means that if my spouse challenged me to a fight I would fight like I mean it. No “wrestling” as I’m small and light. I’d grab what I could and do as much damage as I could even if all I could do was rip off his ear or a bit of his face with my teeth.

          What you managed to prove to your girlfriend is that you will keep her in submission. You have proven to her that she can’t trust you.

          • avatar erin machniak says:

            That being said, LW2 made a call. It worked out better than dead. She could have escalated the situation. The thing is you *don’t know* what may or may not happen.

            People are unpredictable and dangerous.