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Do the Men Who Like to ‘Winnie the Pooh’ at Home Really Deserve Our Scorn?

When it’s done with a clean butt and good intentions, the T-shirt-with-no-pants look can be an act of joyous defiance. But, as with most things, there’s a line

Squidward, the Grinch, Porky Pig, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh all have something in common: They’re constantly ready to rock out with their cock out. It’s basically due to a similar sartorial choice — a shirt and not much else. Maybe they wear shoes or a hat, but their lower body is unclothed, leaving whatever lurks beneath their fur, feathers or tentacles exposed. That’s okay with me — they’re children’s characters who likely don’t have reproductive organs, and frankly, it’s none of my goddamn business what’s under there. But when adult humans sport the shirt-on, no-pants combo? I’m free to talk about it at length. 

Last week, a woman on Reddit turned to r/AmITheAsshole to address a predicament she was having with her boyfriend. “AITA for asking my boyfriend to stop emulating Winnie the Pooh?” she wrote, explaining that he’d become somewhat committed to being completely nude below the waist, particularly during Zoom calls. “I’ll be honest, it makes me a little uncomfortable for him to just constantly have his penis out in front of me, so I have requested he just wear boxers at least. He thinks I’m trying to be too controlling, and that I should appreciate his body. However it just feels kind of unsanitary and weirdly dangerous.” As an example, she cited a time he was cooking and hot oil splashed onto his penis. 

The general consensus was that while his unwavering commitment to Winnie the Pooh-ing was admirable, she wasn’t an asshole for wanting him to wear pants more often. Her fellow redditors also vehemently agreed that it sounded unsanitary and risky, particularly for his exposed peen. 

My feelings are a bit more complicated. If I had a partner who Winnie the Pooh-ed that much, at first, I’d have a blast looking at that flaccid dick all day, and I’d have unlimited ass-grabbing access. Men have countless opportunities to be shirtless, but the Winnie the Pooh outfit flips this dynamic on its head. Sure, you could just be completely nude, but by keeping the shirt on, you’re challenging the very conventions of male shirtlessness. And often, men are more insecure about their torsos than they are about their legs. Winnie the Pooh-ing allows them to indulge in the liberation of partial nudity while covering an area they’d prefer to hide. This is especially true if they’re built like Winnie, or wear a big shirt like he does. It’s almost radical, in a way. 

But even in my most generous analysis, the novelty would eventually wear thin. It’s not that I’d get sick of looking at the schlong, but rather, I’d grow frustrated with the knowledge that his bare ass is touching everything. I, like the other respondents on r/AITA, might also grow to loathe any habit that involves being secretly naked on Zoom. I mean, are these Zoom calls amongst his closest buddies with whom he has a history of platonic nudity, or are these Zoom work meetings? Before we get into the finer details of Winnie the Pooh-ing, let’s just preface all this by saying that you should not be doing this during work, or in any context where someone would be uncomfortable by your nakedness. Jeffrey Toobin already played that game, no reason for you to play it again. 

Nevertheless, I can’t help but think there’s a double standard here — I feel confident I could get away with Winnie the Pooh-ing for much longer than a man could. And while I don’t know the exact gender breakdown or sexualities of the people who responded to my Twitter poll on the topic, I suspect many of the those who voted that they thought it was hot (62 percent in all) were straight — or straight-ish — men imagining a woman naked from the waist down.

“For women, it’s incredibly sexy,” a guy who goes by Rumps on Twitter tells me. “For men, it looks like an Alzheimer’s sufferer has lost his way home.” Another guy named Steve responded that he’s been known to “Porky Pig it” while on sleeping pills. “I’ve been told it’s more funny than sexy,” he says. 

What exactly allows women to get away with this, but not men? Part of it seems to be that we often consider men to be “dirtier” or less hygienic than women, when there’s nothing inherent to the male body that would make that true. Yes, men are often hairier and that presents some difficulties, but hairy bodies are equally capable of being clean as hairless bodies. So, before we overcome the stigma of men Winnie the Pooh-ing, it seems we must overcome our beliefs surrounding men’s hygiene, first. Alternatively, we ought to think about the acceptability of Winnie the Pooh-ing with cleanliness as our guiding principle. I don’t mind you placing your bare ass on my sofa if you’re freshly washed!

My own signature sleepwear requires lite Winnie the Pooh-ing. I wear a big T-shirt, but I keep the underwear on. It’s a perfect combination, and it might be a happier medium for people of all genders — you get the comfort of an oversized shirt covering your upper body, the freedom of bare legs and the security and hygiene of underwear. Were I to find myself in a situation with a partner who absolutely loved to Winnie the Pooh, I, like the women of r/AITA, would suggest this as my first compromise. 

All that said, there’s something entirely juvenile about Winnie the Pooh-ing — it’s as though we’re toddlers who’ve escaped the confines of the clothing and diapers our parents forced upon us. Perhaps subconsciously, this is the freedom we’re striving for when we create the outfit as adults. And who am I to deny someone the occasional opportunity to experience that feeling once more? Within reason, we should all be allowed to periodically Winnie the Pooh, or Squidward, or Porky Pig, or whatever you like to call it. 

Just consider scheduling your jubilance at a time when you’ve just showered, won’t be cooking with oil and aren’t planning on participating in any work-related Zoom calls.