/TC BECAUSE OF MY deeply held belief that women should be independent and equal and all that other liberal stuff, I have to defend their right to wear the ultra-skimpy bathing suits known as thong bottoms.
These mini-garments are similar to G-strings, which are worn in strip joints, and they are provoking controversy in many communities that have beaches.
Laws have been passed, although seldom enforced, saying that it is against the law for women to wear bathing suits that flaunt their entire buns, although the lawyers phrase it with more dignity.
But in some towns, proper folk are in an uproar because they fear that their children will have their morals ruined by seeing a woman's hindquarters. Maybe they think it is better for the tykes to be watching somebody's eyes being plucked out in "Terminator 2."
I seldom go to beaches, but during a recent trip to Florida, I was sitting with a couple of geezers watching the dolphins swim by.
As we sat, several young ladies paraded past us in thong bottoms.
That was the first time I saw women in those garments except on the stage of some smoke-filled clip joint in Cicero.
My reaction, as well as that of my fellow geezers, was: "Why not? You've seen one dolphin, you've seen them all. At least this is variety. No two buns are exactly alike."
And that was the surprising thing about those who wore the thong bottoms. Some of the women did not seem to have the appropriate anatomy for them. They had an excess of anatomy.
As one of my companions put it: "By golly, look at that one. Her hindquarters are big enough to feed an entire starving Third World nation."
And that's why I think women should not be hassled for wearing thong bottoms.
Those who have the health-club figures for skimpy suits are a pleasant sight, an adornment to any beach. Or to a business office, for that matter, although most middle managers would object, the prudes.
And for those who have an abundance of anatomy, who is to pass judgment? As Slats Grobnik has always philosophized on any questionable course of action: "Hey, it's your a--."
After all, in some cultures, a woman with a prominent South End Zone is considered a great beauty, while one who has what we might consider a fashionably scrawny bod would be encouraged to eat more roots and grubs.
But those who demand that these bathing suits be outlawed say that the point is not whether the woman is attractive but the moral standards of the community.
I'm sure that in most of these communities they have TV -- both free and cable. So they can, and probably do, flip on the set and see movies, commercials and even sporting events in which scantily clad females are jiggling, wiggling, shaking and shimmying in ways that 50 years ago would have brought the vice squad thundering into any theater that allowed such goings-on.
Are the people who object to string suits flinging their TV sets into the garbage bin? Of course not. Nor are they gasping in horror and flipping over to watch Bill Moyers. A survey would probably show that after their wives go to bed, 92 percent of all blatantly proper men are watching something real grungy.
What puzzles me about the thong-suit furor is that we have not heard anything from any of the militant female groups, such as the National Association Against Gawkers (NAAGS).
These are the stern females who say that if a man gawks, ogles, leers or otherwise expresses silent but facial admiration for a female figure he should be sued or jailed or neutered because he is only one pulse beat away from becoming a frothing fiend.
The thong and string suits must pose a dilemma for NAAGS. On the one hand, as militant feminists, they must defend the rights of females to do as they wish with their bods, including displaying 98 percent of their skin on beaches.
On the other hand, they object to gawking, ogling, leering, etc. But even NAAGS would have to concede that when a female person wears one of those outfits in public, she is making a social statement. She is saying: "Look I am displaying my buns. ** And why else would I put them on display if I didn't wnat you to gawk, ogle, leer and hyperventilate?"
Then again, maybe theyjust like the invigorating feeling of sitting down on hot sand.