29 March 2007

Generation gap or cultural shift?

On occasion I go to the gym on campus to play a little basketball, and when I do that I use the locker room to store my stuff and also to shower afterwards. I grew up doing this, since I went to public school and phy-ed was required every year and after phys-ed, whether you actually did anything sweaty or not, the sadistic gym teacher, who'd been there for I kid you not 40 years, demanded that you shower.

The gym showers were typical: one large shower room with shower jets mounted on the walls and/or central columns.

In college, I usually trudged home to the dorm rather than shower at the gym, but I can tell you the shower stalls there were the exact same way: one big room with a bunch of shower nozzles.

I am, by the way, getting to a point of some sort.

Anyway, the university I'm working at now recently built a fancy new gymnasium and I go there to play ball as I've mentioned. When this building first opened, it too had one big room with several shower nozzles. I would say within a few months of opening, each of those nozzles became enclosed in a stall. I suppose perhaps someone felt it was nice to provide privacy to people showering, even though it is a locker room for christ's sake (my own theory is that the administration views the students not as students but as "customers," and the "upgrade" was based on what's available at fancier private gyms around town -- having never been in one, I wouldn't know) .

Those stalls remained untouched for a while, then one day I found that all the doors had been removed from the stalls. This development I chalked up, as I did the previous one, to rampant homophobia and someone being concerned that the stall doors could lead to too much privacy, if you know what I mean.

Then suddenly the doors were back.

All of this narrative is what I call preamble.

Here's what I'm getting at: I take my towel with me to the shower room and I used to hang it on towel hooks placed on the wall for that purpose, but now with the stalls I place it on stall door. I shower, dry off, and head back to my clothes. I'm noticing a rising trend in which my fellow gym rats not only take their towels to the shower, but also a change of clothes. Perhaps this shouldn't bother me, but I have to wonder why everyone is so uptight about their naked bodies these days. Oh, I should mention this trend applies mainly to younger men (I'm 38; let's say people in their twenties and under); the old dudes who frequent the gym have no problem engaging you in extended conversations while wearing nothing other than the skin they were born with. I have a theory on this phenomenon:

Growing awareness of gay and lesbian issues has caused an increased awareness among straight jocks that they most likely are sharing the locker room with ho-mo-sex-uals, and they're utterly terrified of having their junk displayed like fruit on a tree. And a little excited.



Blue Dog Art said...

Um...wouldn't know since I'm a female and they generally give us walls and doors. Your theory sounds decent though.

Now the reason that I'm here today...were you by chance interviewed about graffiti in Adams Morgan on Fox 5 last night????

teak said...

Late Breaking: Upcoming Texas Youth Commission Rove-sparked pedophilia scandal promises to kill off Gonzales??!! | HongPong.com

You got kids, so do I. Pass this around to everyone you know, please. There are many links I could post but you'll get the picture. Be prepared to want to puke. Gonzales covering up.

The TYC referred more than 6,600 cases of abuse and neglect
• 684 reports of “staff sexual conduct”
• Only 18 cases have been prosecuted, all by local authorities
(Source: San Antonio Express-News, March 6, 2007; The Houston Chronicle, March 6, 2007)

Reya Mellicker said...

Everyone is so much more self-conscious than we used to be. I notice this in movies a lot - really corny, heartfelt films from the 50's (for instance) could never be made today because culturally we are too cynical and too self conscious to be that vulnerable on film.

How about child actors? They used to really be like little kids, but now they are like pint-sized adults, so self aware and sophisticated.

Momentary Academic said...

I blame my prudishness on Catholic school education.