Misogyny, the hatred of women, remains the most universal and distinctive characteristic of the international fashion industry. Clearly, the designers' objective continues to be to outfit women so that women will look unintelligent, uninteresting, and unattractive to people who are not women. The designers' most recent success can presently be seen in the modified Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms look--white tights or ankle socks and short, white pleated skirts--inadequately covering mature American women in major American cities.

Men have been luckier; their fashions have been unfashionable. Dullness and predictability have been the norm. Admittedly, clothes did not make the man; but, neither did they make him look foolish either. All this, of corse, was before the arrival of what I will call--for want of a better term--Silly Pants.

Silly Pants, which are somebody's successful revenge on the affluent, white, middle-aged American male, are the latest in resort or casual slacks. Not all casual slacks qualify as Silly Pants, however, only the very latest with the little navy blue whales (that's right, whales) adorning a frequently green or red background. Raspberry, lime, mint, lemon, and/or cream slacks, without the little whales, may look silly. But they are not Silly Pants. The design is crucial. The composition is not so important. Natural fibers are preferred, but cum polyester is acceptable in spite of the creed of the group from which most Silly Pants wearers come that "polyester pollutes." Polyester is somehow more tolerable in better circles when it changes its name to something like hopsack.

Silly Pants are worn by men who go to a lot of member-guest golf tournaments at country clubs. An unscientific survey of these illy Pants wearers reveals that they are grateful for their company-purchased and tax-deductible club memberships and disdainful of people on food stamps, and that the disciplining of welfare mothers and labor union members would turn this economy around in no time. They are men of some insight, as anyone can clearly see.

But here's the problem. Nobody can take seriously anyone who wears pants with scattered seafood designs on them. All that wisdom, being offered so generously by all those member-guest guests, is being immediately discounted and probably disregarded because the people speaking have on Silly Pants. Men in three-button pin-stripe suits and cowboy boots are taken more seriously than are men in Silly Pants. Surprisingly, this reaction does not amaze the Silly Pants wearer, who usually does take himself very seriously. No matter how pompous the male, he cannot really pull a pair of these pants over his ankles without feeling a twinge of foolishness.

Still some of this nation's best accountants, account executives lawyers, dentists and stockbrokers are having their analyses and advice ignored most every weekend because they are wearing Silly Pants. It may account for the erosion of respect for the private sector, even for the recent polls that indicate a Democratic comeback this November, and maybe for the "nervousness in the financial markets." At least, it's worth a look. Silly Pants could be the problem.