Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Men in the Locker Room
One day, as I walked into the ladies' locker room at the gym, the attendant informed me that there were men inside, attending to some repairs. That particular day, I didn't have to undress, but simply had to lock up my belongings. It's funny, though, my gut reaction to hearing there were men inside: "So?"
Because I'm not a stripper, I wondered about my cavalier attitude to the presence of men. What became clear was my underlying belief that men in the locker room would be less inclined to stare at my body, at least in a critical way, less inclined to judge than my female counterparts.
More recently, I stepped up to one of the vanity/hairdryer stations, letting my towel slip from my chest to my waist. My neighbor caught my absent-minded action and said: "Must be nice to be comfortable enough to [insert let-it-all-hang-out gesture here]!"
I suppose, but, often, it's function over form. My locker room routine involves accomplishing the most I can in the shortest period of time. One day, as I dried my hair and simultaneously applied lotion to my limbs and tweezed my brows, another woman commented, "You've just brought multi-tasking to a new level." And, I have. . .
But, what's interesting in me, is the way that women evaluate one another--yes, each of these reactions serves as compliments, I think; I'm comfortable with my body (according to woman #1) and exhibit record-breaking efficiency (woman #2). But, there's still a great deal of observation, of judgment. I can only wonder the negative evaluations that they're thinking but wouldn't dare to say, and I can't help but think that if I were a man in the men's locker room, my behavior, unless extraordinary, would go unnoticed. Women, as most of us know, are our worst critics. That eyeing-you-up-and-down gaze is never as penetrating as it when shot from female eyes. It's no wonder I'd be more comfortable disrobing in front of men.