The Locker-Room Effect

posted 13 January 2004

So I'm going to the gym in January. So I'm (even more of) a cliché. Whatever. What really bugs me is the way people need to get naked in the changing rooms. No really. Why? It's not like these people have just been swimming: there's a separate changing room for them. When you've just been wet, you might need to briefly shuck your swimsuit before getting into new clothes. There's no need to wander around full-frontal though, even then.

But the "dry" changing room nudists don't even have that excuse. Hello! You've just been exercising! Are your nuts so sweaty that it would kill you to keep your pants on until you got home? And I don't get the showers for the same reason. Don't you people have homes where you can shower? Why must you inflict yourselves on me? And why is it always the mingers? You'd think, with the vast numbers of superfluously naked people wandering around locker rooms I've seen all my life, there would have been at least some hot ones to gawp at and make it all worthwhile. But no. It's always the pale, flabby, wrinkled asses, always the ones with excessive back hair and horrifyingly shrunken genitals dangling like fuzzy dice from a rear-view mirrors*. It's ghastly, really it is.

Of course, sometimes it's justifiable to need a shower and a full change of clothes after a workout: there are people who go to the gym before going to work, and going home first might be impractical. That doesn't apply to the people who do it when I'm at the gym, of course -- I refuse to believe that many people have night jobs -- but still, accommodation must be made for those who, for whatever reason, can't go home first. We could give them little shower-cubicles with doors that close and room to change inside, without scarring my retinas. The wider problem is this bizarre cultural blind-spot we seem to have for locker-room nudity.

All of our lives, we go around wearing clothes. We change for the seasons, wear less when it's hot, but there's always a certain amount of covering-up that goes on. Testicles are simply not attractive except to the near-terminally horny. Even when there are only men in the building, we don't go around dropping our pants at random: we go to the privacy of our bedroom or bathroom and change there. If you saw a guy walking around with his genitals hanging out and his butt exposed, you'd be somewhat uncomfortable, wouldn't you?

But suddenly, in locker rooms, all the rules magically change. Uncomfortable? Pshaw! Suddenly everyone is naked and genitals are not a problem to display to all and sundry. We proudly walk around butt nekkid. Why? Who the fuck decided that was okay? I'm still uncomfortable with the concept of superfluous nudity on the part of unattractive strangers, why does this affect no one else but me? Am I just weird, or impossibly prudish? Given the reactions people have had to my somewhat risqué offhand comments in the past, I find it hard to believe that I am less comfortable seeing and discussing things of a sexual nature than most people.

But maybe that's it. Maybe it's because to everyone else, it's not sexual. I'm gay, so to me the other guys are -- in an abstract sort of way -- the object of my affections, the equivalent of girls. "It's all just guys," straight guys I've discussed this with say, "what's to worry about?" But what kind of standard is that? Why not "it's all just girls"? Is it that you're afraid that girls are going to judge you by the size of your dick? Because really, given their constant preoccupation with the matter of genital dimensions, I'd think guys are the people more likely to do that, really.

"Are you insecure about your size or something?" the straight guys also ask, proving my previous point about the number one topic on the male mind most of the time. No, I'm not. But I don't feel the need to advertise that fact. It's not that I don't want people to see mine, it's that I don't want to see theirs. Put them away! Scrotums are not attractive!

And this same principle applies for male urinals. How come the chicks get nice private cubicles and we get little piss-pots stuck to the walls? What happened to sexual equality there, huh? I want privacy all the time, not just 99% of the time. 99% privacy about any particular topic is the same as none at all.

I have yet to hear a satisfactory explanation of this effect. Until then, I will just have to keep hurriedly averting my eyes.

* points for the obscure reference here

1 comment