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Why the Hell Is There Netting in Men’s Bathing Suits?

People have some theories

Across the world of fashion, women have it rough. Striking the impossible balance between Madonna and whore would be challenge enough without an apparel industry that ignores 95 percent of bodies. For swimwear, the stakes are higher yet: Society demands revealing, flattering, skin-tight suits to rival the hot, wet looks on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the start of the season. I would not want to feel this pressure.

But you know what else I don’t want to feel? That crotch netting in a man’s swimsuit.

One doesn’t have to read a horror story about a kid visiting the hospital after his dick got hopelessly stuck in said netting to have suspicions about this material. Almost every guy has wondered, at some point, why it even exists. And while I haven’t been able to turn up the name of the sadist who invented it, there are innumerable guesses as to its intended benefit. “So small marine life doesn’t swim up your peehole” and “so when you poop its like a playdoh [sic] spaghetti maker” are two compelling answers from Reddit.

But an alleged former employee of Under Armour and Hurley, who would actually know, puts it this way: “Originally the mesh was used as a lightweight barrier to block men’s wee-wee’s from direct contract from the fabric of the actual board shorts. When the cloth got wet it got heavier and would cause your sensitive bits to chafe and that’s very uncomfortable.” 

More uncomfortable than the netting?! I suppose I’ll have to take their word for it.

Another supposed reason for the mesh underwear apparatus is to keep your suit from clinging to your privates when you get out of the water — and thus prevent any embarrassment over shrinkage or similar anatomical revelations. To that I must reply: Does it do that, though?

I’m pretty sure I was strategically holding inflatable tubes in front of my junk at any high school pool party to obscure a view of the area. Livestrong, meanwhile, claims the netting is for “support” (I’m sorry, do the male genitals not float in water?) and safety: “Swimming involves a good deal of leg movement; keeping the sensitive bits and pieces up and out of the way allows swimmers to focus on their technique and enjoyment rather than on whether or not they will injure themselves.”

Which, to me, suggests that any time dudes go skinny-dipping, they’re constantly twisting their nuts and knocking their dicks against stuff. Hasn’t been my experience! What’s more, anyone with a penis who’s tried to walk more than a few blocks with it rubbing against the netting would kill for a little junk freedom. 

Honestly, is any bathing suit feature worth the potential of a tiny, angry crab winding up trapped in a confined space with your tackle? Just having pebbles in there isn’t a picnic, either. Over very little time, no matter how nice or expensive the suit is, the netting will also become frayed and stained, so that each time you prepare to swim, you are faced with the horror of what repeated contact with your groin, taint and ass-crack does to this poor synthetic fiber. It does not deserve this indignity any more than we do. Begone.

I should note, however, that like anything problematic, the netting does have its fans.

Hmm. All things considered, you probably do have to give the net props on a turd-catch. But I’m still not going to forgive the guy who joked on Reddit, “I just wear the netting.” Because I cannot un-imagine that.