} Your profound question, which has troubled the world's finest minds
} for decades, has generated several schools of thought. (The numbers
} in the following text, such as 1 and 8, refer to footnotes at the end
} of this answer.) Each school of thought, as you shall see below, is
} partly right.
} One school contends that he is a heterosexual cross-dresser who came
} out of the closet.^1^ Superman wears brightly colored panties, and he
} wants everyone to know. He enjoys wearing women's clothing. He's not
} wearing boxer shorts, and what he's wearing has no fly. He's wearing
} Another school contends that he is trying to draw attention to his
} external genitalia. He's basically just a young stud and a show-off,
} it is said.^3^
} A third school contends that he is not wearing underpants, and that
} what the public sees (just below his waist) is the natural coloring of
} his flesh.^4^ Ever since Lorena Bobbit got a kryptonite knife,
} Superman has neither needed nor worn underpants, some scholars
} A fourth school of thought contends that Superman is trying to get
} back to his cultural roots. His male ancestors wore their underpants
} on the outside, and he wants to have a sense of continuity with
} A fifth school of thought contends that he dresses to please the
} public, and that his market research indicated that the public wants
} its superheroes to dress the way that he does. He'd wear a plumed hat
} if his market research people told him that it would increase his
} market share or audience approval, some scholars have written.^7^
} Another school of thought contends that he is paid much money by an
} underpants manufacturer to wear that manufacturer's underpants on the
} outside whenever he performs his official duties in public.^8^
} A seventh school of thought contends that Superman is participating in
} an experiment being conducted by a graduate student in psychology.
} The details of the experiment must be kept secret, but the general
} idea is to study: (a) who notices that Superman's wearing his
} underpants on the outside, and (b) who feels comfortable discussing
} this subject with a total stranger.^9^
} An eighth school of thought contends that this is merely an
} idiosyncrasy of Superman. Are you completely normal in everything you
} do? Well, Superman isn't either. Don't try to read anything into
} this behavior. It's just a harmless oddity, some scholars argue.^10^
} A ninth school of thought is that Superman is trying to change the way
} that we dress. He hopes to be a role model. He wants us to wear our
} underpants on the outside, too.^11^
} 1. Editorial, _Out!_ , August 15, 1952, vol. 14, no. 3, p. 19.
} 2. "Vanity in Heroes in Contemporary, American Civilization"
} (transcript of panel discussion, moderated by Joan Levy-Khan, at the
} July 1987 annual convention of the International Society for the Study
} of Mass Culture) _Annals of the International Society for the Study of
} Mass Culture_ , Spring 1988, vol. 35, no. 1, pp. 45-89.
} 3. Fitzhugh, James, et al. "A Few Speculations on Possible
} Medical Disorders of Extra-Terrestial Beings, and Ethical Implications
} of Their Treatment by Humans" _Lancet_ 5 May 1994, vol. 186, no. 23,
} pp. 193-216.
} 4. Ling, Mei-Li, et al. "Superman and Postmodernist
} Nostalgia Seen from a Socialist-Feminist Perspective"
} _Cultural Diversity_ Winter 1992, vol. 6, no. 4, pp. 154-93.
} 5. Rodriguez, Natasha. "The Ultimate Powerdresser" _Modern
} Advertising_ November 22, 1962, vol. 27, no. 18, pp. 3, 17.
} 6. Levine, William. "Not for Attribution" _Women's Wear
} Daily_ April 1, 1958, p. 6.
} 7. LeClerc, Harry. "Use of Public Figures in Psychological
} Research" in: Carter-Sloan, Annette, et al., editors. _Psychological
} Experimentation on University Campuses: Second Edition_ (Oxford
} University Press: New York, 1969) pp. 314-66.
} 8. Park, Lo Van, et al. "Clothing as a Diagnostic Tool: A
} Review of the Recent Literature" _Journal of Abnormal Psychology_ July
} 1994, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 487-98.
} 9. Ramahandramahn, G.L., et al. "Deconstruction of Superman
} as Agitator" _Culture and Meta-Culture_ Autumn 1989, vol. 16,
} no. 4, pp. 598-625.
} 10. Schmidt, Rosa. "Fruit-of-the-Loom Might, Flying Right:
} New Controversy Surrounds an American Hero," Magazine section
} of _New York Times_ January 31, 1986, pp. 14-16, 31-35.
} 11. Corelli, Guy. "Superman et la Loi" _Le Monde_ March 10,
} 1993, p. 25.
} You owe the Oracle a three-pack of Haines colored, bikini-cut, men's