Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In Defense of Naked Old People in the Locker Room

With Michael Sam coming out as the first gay NFL football player (even though he hasn't been drafted yet), there's been a lot of discussion about "Locker room politics". Rather than talk about how straight homophobic athletes and coaches need to get over themselves (especially since it's already been done better), I'm going to talk about a more persistent irrational fear: old people.

Since I'm talking from a primarily collegiate perspective, 'old' is being used with intentional derision to mean anyone who isn't eighteen to twenty-something. I myself am young and use the university campus gym. So do a lot of my classmates. However since it's a pretty good space (or so it seems to my untrained eye) so so do a lot of other people in the area. As such you'll get the occasional 50-75 year old on the treadmill, which is fine. For whatever though everyone seems shocked at the occasional 50-75 year old naked body in the locker room.

Let's talk about bodies. We all have them and so far they seem to be pretty necessary. In fact they seem to be pretty much everything. The main issue of course, is we tend to have problems with bodies as a society because the assumption that anything 'lower' than the soul is bestial, instinct driven, and just so much meat. This leads to sex shaming. The naked body is assumed to be sexual. It needs to be covered.

That's why the locker room is so interesting, since people need to be naked to shower or change gym clothes. Due to the accepted rules of homosociality (or 'bro code'), as long as you're with peers nudity is regarded as a necessity. Even the acceptance of gay guys on a liberal campus has perhaps made it a little bit acceptably titillating, within certain bounds of course. Besides straight guys check out  each other all the time, mostly out of envy rather than lust.

Among peers, at least. The naked 'old' person, doesn't count.

With him, predation is always assumed. He's is perceived as a flasher, a deviant, a molester simply because he dares to want to take a shower after a hard workout. The assumption of men is that we're all sexual at any age, and when in the university locker room space (and potentially any locker room space) something unlike our bodies comes in, it is note worthy and the homosociality treats it as penetrative with all the negative connotation of that word. Unfortunately you can also transpose this attitude to 'fat' people

This is a terrible attitude to foster. It makes the young adopt an hysteria not at all dissimilar to the asinine 'gay panic' homophobes use when they want to be bigots. It assumes that age is a hard and fast community line thus discouraging business contacts, friendships, and lovers. Worse of all it alienates the people who arguably need to go to the gym the most.

 Most of the pronouns here have been male because I've only ever been in a male locker room setting but I imagine the situation is probably worse if you're a woman. Unlike old men, old women in or culture are never assumed to be sexual. When one is necessarily nude, a state that is coded as 'always sexual' the scandal most likely makes the people who share the gym-soaces head explode.

To conclude: people can still be naked even if they're thirty years older than you. They sometimes need to use the gym. Some of them are really quite friendly. Get over it.

No comments:

Post a Comment