Elephant in the Locker Room; guest blogger Brooke VanBuskirk

the-locker-room-is-not-your-house-gym-etiquetteI scuttled into the locker room hunched over my dripping, towel wrapped 3 and 5 year old children. They glistened with excitement and accomplishment after their first week of swimming lessons had drawn to a close and I can’t say I was any less giddy. Around corners we buzzed to find our locker corridor, until we were obstinately confronted by a tall, black-haired, high-nosed nudist. She sauntered by casually enough so that I couldn’t have accused her of intentionally having choked the good vibrations out of my skin, but nonetheless she did. I was caught off-guard and covered the eyes of each of my kids with a hand, and diverted my own attention to the wet, tiled floor beneath us as to pass her without issue.

imageThis was not my first nude locker room experience. Three years ago I came face to face with an 80-something year old woman spread-eagle in the sauna. I chose not to get my steam treatment that afternoon. Then earlier this year, a friend of mine invited me to join her on a guest pass at her gym, where we later exchanged thoughts regarding locker-room strippers. They, we chuckled, were so annoying! You could be minding your own business sitting on a bench taking your socks off and then out of nowhere- BOOB! Without warning. My initial reaction is to look away, hot-faced and embarrassed that I had just seen the private area of another person. Just as quickly as my eyes were violated I became tangled in confusion over my own reaction! Why am I such a prude? After all, locker-room culture today will make it seem normal that a person completely disrobe before another (of the same gender) and besides, we all have the same lady bits, and its all natural, and blah blah blah.

Now, typically I’m a live-and-let-live, non-confrontational hippy, but like most moms, exceptions are made when a situation involves my kids. They have never seen my naked body, and I encourage a bit of modesty among themselves, just to inculcate the practice of privacy from a young age. Its not at all that I consider the human body anything less than clean and beautiful, but I want to foster in them a sense of dignity and decency. I’d like to preserve the lost standard that there are some things that you don’t expose to others, with certain exceptions of course. Also, I’m of the persuasion that a persons private parts are a vulnerable thing. I would explain that more, but I’m confident in my readers’ ability to come to their own conclusions.

The next week of swimming lessons began pleasantly. The naked baby running around the locker room caught the attention of my 5-year old and he sweetly remarked, “Oh! Look at that baby with no clothes on!” “Yea, silly little guy, go get your shorts on!” I smiled with understanding at his mother, who chased him trying to convince his free-spirit into floatees and a pair of trunks. No problem. But I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it was to inch away from our usual locker hall, turning on our heels, barely missing the sight of a fully nude swimming enthusiast. I was turning red. We turned a corner and passed the showers where one woman stood, of course completely nude, or else I wouldn’t have mentioned her in my indignant rant, with the readily available curtain drawn wide open! Couldn’t she just close the curtain?

rated-g-300x200I try to excuse most women by thinking they’re just too lazy to mosey on into a change stall with all of their gear and that they’d rather just change by their lockers, but how does one justify not taking a second to slide a curtain over while you’re standing naked as a blue jay in the shower? How is this not indecent exposure? This was not her living room, but public domain. I rolled my eyes, tired, while my practically blind-folded kids stepped unsure around the locker room wondering when they’d be able to change and go swimming. To add to this was a woman was performing a breast self-examination in the bathroom mirror and another passer-by had a towel on her hair but nothing else. I began to feel stressed, anxious and challenged . I began questioning my own values, feeling like a minority and wondering how much damage it would do to take my censorship down a notch. And then a thing struck me which justified my discomfort. Every movie on the shelf has a rating. What is the purpose of these ratings? Why is one a “G” and one an “R”? Most times it has to do with mature content, including nudity.

g-rated_600x600The greater public cares about protecting their children from exposure to such things, which is why in many cases a “family” change room will exist. But where there aren’t, I would ask women to be more considerate. It was a silly pet-peeve to be exposed to public nudity before kids but now it’s a reason I hesitate to sign my kids up for swimming lessons, where their safety and well-being are at stake. If you’re a locker-room stripper, especially in a place where children frequent, I would ask you to reconsider. Instead of scarring a child for life, take the extra 2 minutes and go into a change-room. That’s what they’re there for. Otherwise, study the punchlines in my rant good and hard, because next time I run into you, I’m not going to scurry around the locker room looking for a proper place to uncover my kids’ eyes. I’m going to ask you what your problem is and remind you that this is not girls gone wild.

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About sabr33n

Debra Schubert is pursuing a bachelor of Social Work at the University of Regina, where she is also a research assistant in the Department of Religious Studies. She is a blogger and focuses primarily on social justice issues from an Islamic perspective. She is an activist in her community and dedicates much of her time to community engagement activities. She is a Muslim convert from a Jewish and Roman Catholic upbringing. She is one of the founding members of the “Federation for Canadian Muslim Social Services” that was established in 2014 and currently sits as secretary on the executive board. She is a member of the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan’s social committee and also serves on the programming and youth organizing committees for NAIN 2015. View all posts by sabr33n

7 responses to “Elephant in the Locker Room; guest blogger Brooke VanBuskirk

  • Aisha

    those nudist chicks can get the twisted-up towel with the end dipped in waterr *snap!!* put somethin onnn!

  • nur

    Great article. This also happened to my daughter and I at the university pool. I have seen my fair share of ‘bush’ in the sauna and really.. its nasty. Those locker room strippers need to be a lot more considerate of the children who DO NOT need to see their lady bits.

  • Ajaytao2010

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  • Rebecca

    I’ve never had a problem with my daughter seeing nude females in the locker room. But if I had a son, I don’t think that I’d be too keen on him being exposed to nude men. I guess it’s just that to me female nudity in a locker room is innocent and normal. That’s not to say that it’s not always that way with males either. But I think that there are a lot of weirdos that may hang out in men’s locker rooms for the wrong reasons.

    This past summer, my daughters 14 year old babysitter took her swimming at a public pool at a park near us. When they would return to our house afterward, they would hope in the shower together to wash off the chlorine and I would throw their swimsuits in the washing machine while they showered. I could never fathom allowing a 14 year old boy to shower with an 8 year old son.

    Just a few weeks ago I took my daughter and the babysitter swimming at an indoor pool in our neighborhood. We all showered in the nude in the open showers afterward, and there was nothing awkward about it.

    I guess that I do come from the school of thought that “We’re all females with the same parts, so who cares who sees what?”

  • PT

    I kind of wonder what the real big deal is with nudity especially when it’s in a relatively private environment? Your children aren’t being scarred for life. Allah created us naked, the nude body is a thing of body and something for children to understand in all its glory. It isn’t x-rated or pornographic, it’s natural and sensual. Perhaps, if you explain and educate your children about how Allah created us natural, beautiful and strong your children would also learn to see that the body is natural, sacred and beautiful. However, if you cover their eyes, you’re teaching them that their is shame to be had in our nakedness. There is no place for shame about nudity in islam, after all this is not christianity.

  • JimmyV

    I read your “about” and you are a convert to Islam, which may explain your concerns with nude in the locker room. Had you been raised in the Islamic culture, where bathhouses are common, you may not be as upset.

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