“A woman is a dish for the gods, if the devil dress her not.” – William Shakespeare (Antony and Cleopatra, 1606-7)

What’s with these new patterned pants women are wearing?

When it comes to women’s fashions, I have a very wide palette. Take a 5-foot-10-inch supermodel, wrap her in almost anything, and I — like so many others of my lunkhead gender — will break into spontaneous emotional applause. And when it comes to the vicissitudes of revelation — the periodic display of new parts of the corpus delicioso — I’ve never been disappointed.

But now, for the first time, I am disappointed and confused. Patterned pants leave me cold. I don’t like them. I don’t get them. They look silly. Unattractive. They remind me of something that is not feminine.

What is it? Not art exactly, but something decorative. Hmm. Oh, yes! That’s it! They remind me of wallpaper!

Wallpaper, you’ll grant me, has nothing to do with sex appeal.

And that, I suppose, is what bugs and baffles me about patterned pants. I’ve always — foolishly I suppose — associated women’s fashions with . . . well . . . with men. I’ve always seen a direct connection between women’s fashions and men’s passions.

The first time I saw a miniskirt, I thought, “Yes! Thank you!” I had a similar reaction to plunging necklines, open backs, peeping tummies, spandex, cotton, crinoline — you name it. They were all wonderful new ways for me and other men to enjoy women.

But these patterned pants I don’t like at all. And I suspect I am not alone.

Here is my theory: Since the 1950s, women in America have been less and less interested in what men think of them. When it comes to what they wear, they are much more affected by the opinion of their fellow females.

It stands to reason, I suppose. Women tend to notice sartorial changes (and just about everything else) more than men do — and they are much more likely to say so. If a woman puts on a new skirt, I suppose she wants it to be noticed and if the notice she gets is exclusively feminine, her attention will drift in that direction. (B.F. Skinner.)

But there’s another strain to this. It’s this pernicious trend toward gender independence. During the same 50 years, the messages that have gotten the greatest play in academia, the arts, popular culture (including pornography), and the media have been those that support the view that women don’t need men to be happy and successful in life.

Isn’t that a slap in the face?

By flocking to patterned pantaloons, women are declaring their final “take-a-flying-leap” to the sex that fails to notice. In choosing to adorn her legs with printed flowers, a woman is saying “I’d rather look like Martha Stewart’s foyer wall than your bedroom fantasy.”

It’s a terrible thing, really. And I predict calamitous ramifications.

You thought the collapse of the NASDAQ has hurt America? That is diminimus in comparison.

So are there any business opportunities that can come out of this? Many. But I’m sick at heart — too sick at heart to think about them.

OK. One does spring to mind. I can see monastaries in the future. Upscale, cloistered retreats for affluent boomer men where serenity prevails, sports are on every channel, you can be as late as you want for dinner, indiscriminate belching and farting are the rule, nobody is sensitive to anything, and the only ladies permitted to pass through the walls are those attired in pre-2001 fashions.

Hmm…