Saunders: Got sense enough to pull your pants up?

bsaunders@newsobserver.comSeptember 16, 2012 

“That boy ain’t got sense enough to come in outta the rain.”

That’s how old people in Rockingham used to describe a particularly loopy character. Even if they were talking about me, the phrase nonetheless bespoke a certain country eloquence.

If those old people were around today, the go-to phrase would likely be: “That boy ain’t got sense enough to pull his pants up.”

City of Dunn Mayor Pro-Tem Carnell Robinson tried to make young men in that city pull theirs up. He proposed an ordinance that would ban sagging pants, but the measure failed this month to get enough votes from the city council.

Dunn’s police chief, B.P. Jones, wasn’t a fan of it, anyway, telling me enforcement would create more work for his officers. “That’s a job for the schools and parents,” he said.

When an Atlanta city councilman proposed a similar ban five years ago, police there opposed it, too, although for a different reason. Some Atlanta cops said the saggin’ style actually made it easier to catch fleeing suspects, since it’s hard to run while holding your pants up with one hand.

When I told that to Robinson, he said, “We’re trying to prevent them from becoming suspects in the first place. I’m not going to support something just because it makes it easier for police to put more young black men in jail.”

But Robinson, I said – to myself, of course – what if some of them belong in custody, not for fashion crimes, but for more serious offenses?

Robinson doesn’t dismiss the sagging pants as merely a misguided fashion statement or a fad. “It’s a subculture,” he said. “It’s got a uniform, a language, an attitude.”

We can attempt all the legal maneuvers, prayers, pleas, even exorcisms to rid these males – Can you really call anyone whose drawers are showing “men”? – of the saggin’ pants demon. I even wrote years ago about the theory that the look was started in prison by guys who were advertising their sexual availability to other men.

Let’s just say gay readers didn’t take too kindly to being used to force males to pull up their pants.

It didn’t work, anyway. There is, undoubtedly, only one thing guaranteed to make straight males pull up their pants: females.

Sorry to put the impetus for change on you, ladies, but as with most good things men do, change will only come if you make us change.

If young ladies banded and decided en masse that they weren’t going to date, love or even acknowledge prospective suitors until they pulled up their pants, the unsightly fashion trend would end overnight.

Of course, then we might have a different problem: getting men to pull their pants down because most would start wearing them up around their necks to ensure they were in compliance.

It may seem unfair to put the onus for ending this trend on women, but it is the only solution 100 percent, money-back guaranteed to work. In the play “Lysistrata,” Greek women went on a sex strike until warring men agreed to negotiate peace. Last year, CNN reported on a Filipino village in which women did the same thing.

So ladies, do your duty.

When the proposed ban was first scheduled to be voted upon several weeks ago, a young lady sitting on a porch in Dunn who opposed the ban correctly noted that criminals can wear anything, even suits.

True dat. Not every young man you see suffering – willfully suffering – from VDS (visible drawers syndrome) is a thug looking to bop you over the head or carjack you or sell you some crack. Some of the ones I talked to said they just think the style makes them look cool.

Brothers: It doesn’t. What it makes you look like is someone who doesn’t care about the initial impression you make on others, like someone not striving for upward mobility.

What it mainly makes you look like, though, is someone who doesn’t have sense enough to pull your pants up. Or, for that matter, to come in outta the rain.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service