Going commando (or to go commando or "free balling") is the practice of not wearing underwear under one's outer clothing. The phrase and phenomenon is often used in a declaratory way ("I'm goin' commando!"), particularly by women to covertly create a frisson of sexual excitement or amusement amongst friends, sexual partners, future sexual partners, etc. Modern Western social mores generally recognise "going commando" as a "playful" behavior (akin to a mild form of exhibitionism).
Scope and synonyms
Going without underwear is said to have certain benefits. Dr. Caroline F. Pukall of Queens University states that going without underwear while sleeping can have significant benefits to the vulva.
In Chile, the act of not wearing underwear has been called "andar a lo gringo" ("to go gringo-style") for decades.
In Costa Rica, this act is known as "andar strike" (to go strike)
Use in BDSM
, going commando is often required by a Dominant as means of concentrating the submissive's or slave's mind on his or her condition. For instance, 'I went commando for the weekend because Master required it". There are many opportunities for anxiety, for embarrassment, and for humiliation for the sub, especially females. Her body is instantly accessible at the lift of the skirt, or something may be revealed by accident, especially if the skirt is very short. In the BDSM novel, Story of O
, O is required to be without underwear and in a dress at all times.
's Daniel Engber dates the modern usage to 1974 college campuses, where it was perhaps an outgrowth of the Vietnam War
The origins of the phrase are uncertain, with some speculating that it may refer to being "out in the open" or "ready for action." According to Engber many soldiers do go without underwear to "increase ventilation and reduce moisture." The earliest known use of the term in print is January 22
when Jim Spencer wrote in the Chicago Tribune
"Furthermore, colored briefs are 'sleazy' and going without underwear ('going commando', as they say on campus) is simply gross".
The expression could also be derived from the term "go regimental" to describe a True Scotsman wearing no underwear beneath his kilt.
In a scene in the film Basic Instinct
, Sharon Stone's
character Catherine Tramell
revealed that she did not wear underwear by uncrossing her legs during an interrogation