Comments on: Tales of the Small College Town http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 28 Sep 2014 10:58:43 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Bob http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-878767 Tue, 27 Sep 2011 11:21:44 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-878767 I would like to congratulate you on your use of the word “strigil.”

That is all.

HJ (deceased)

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By: Rachel http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877960 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 23:49:48 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877960 I guess I spent enough time playing sports and dealing with communal showers that I just don’t think about it. It is what it is. Follow the norms of the shower culture of the particular space and move on. But then again, I’m ok showering nekkid in those communal shower rooms (see: played sports). And there were also the college co-ed bathrooms. Yeah, I just don’t care.

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By: Z http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877875 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 19:58:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877875 I guess there is something about the privileged male thing — they think people should deal with their bodies no matter what (and find them desirable, even, and so on).

But I also think people are just a lot more puritanical now than when I was in college / graduate school.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877812 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 18:08:39 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877812 Thanks, everyone, for your commiseration, advice, and good humor! It’s so interesting that so many of you can relate to my reader’s question about locker room etiquette.

After I posted yesterday, I was reminded of two times in my life when I used a gym and locker room: in graduate school, when I’d run on the Penn track and use the steam room and showers there, and then when I was teaching at a university as a lecturer before I finished my Ph.D. In both cases, there were so few women on the History faculties that I never ran into professors or colleagues buck nekkid. In fact, the women’s locker rooms at both unis were pretty deserted compared to the men’s locker rooms.

Jim way upthread makes an interesting observation about the greater comfort of the old and saggy bodies versus the discomfort/modesty of the young and firm. I guess even when we take our clothes off, the prevailing hierarchies are still quite operative. While in part I think greater comfort with one’s body is a positive sign of maturity, it’s also a privilege to be nekkid and/or display one’s body unashamedly in front of one’s inferiors. (I’m reminded of the elaborate assistance that Louis XIV required in toileting, ablutions, and getting dressed, or for a more recent example, Lyndon Johnson conducting meetings with his staff and congressmen from inside the toilet in the Oval Office. When the big guy needs to take a dump, the courtiers and peons don’t have the privilege of excusing themselves.)

It’s also a (white) guy thing: most men aren’t evaluated primarily on their bodies or attractiveness–their power and influence comes from elsewhere, whereas even powerful women are very much evaluated on these things too and held to a higher standard than their male peers. (There are exceptions to this of course–elite athletes, for example, where proportionately there are a lot more black and brown men as compared to Wall Street boardrooms, Capitol Hill, and the White House.) While most older women in a locker room situation might feel more comfortable with their bodies than their younger and firmer peers, I bet they don’t feel quite as free to flop around and let it all hang out as their male peers.

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By: Another Damned Medievalists http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877536 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 05:22:05 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877536 Eh. I’d rather not have my students see me starkers, but if they do, they do. Really don’t care about my colleagues female or male (it would be weirder with some than others — of either sex). I would be fine with going to a spa with the university pres., a woman, maybe ok with my boss’s boss (male, but his wife is a friend and he works out at my gym), and totally not ok with my dean. That would just be weird. Except that I’d probably get over it. It’s just bodies.

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By: Leslie http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877476 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 02:57:47 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877476 “You gain the respect of your soldiers or students in your daily dressed contacts. After that they couldn’t care less whether you are dressed or not.”

Well said, koshembos

And on the subject of hats….I learned a long time ago that if you really don’t want to be seen by your students, just change your normal mode slightly. I once was in line at the coffee shop next to one of my advisees, a young woman I saw at least once a week in a tutorial. I was in a baseball cap and sunglasses. Absolutely no signs of recognition on her part. None.

That first time it was an accident…since I don’t always want to engage when I run into students in the summer (it was summer), I filed that away for future reference.

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By: Western Dave http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877464 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 02:27:50 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877464 I work at a K-12 that has a great gym facility. A few years ago, the Upper School history teachers decided to do Wednesday work-out day after school. We usually talked shop on the machines while the one teacher who was also the cross-country coach showed the other two of us what to do. Our students would frequently come to find us there (which was fine by us) if they had a question or a form to sign or something like that. I miss that. (Some rule changes on the school day start and stop time and who could use the gym when killed that particular practice).

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By: j http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877463 Sun, 25 Sep 2011 02:27:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877463 I’m faculty at a SLAC in a very small town. I’m really really uncomfortable with my students seeing me naked – I just don’t want to go there. I also largely don’t invite them to my house, even though it is kind of a thing for faculty here. The only hard part of living in a small town for me is the lack of any anonymity, and I make a point of putting some separation between my college and home life where I can.

After running into a student in the showers once (I was not naked, as I usually shower in my bathing suit after swimming since I’m just rinsing off), I went ahead and joined the town gym instead.

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877316 Sat, 24 Sep 2011 21:21:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877316 When I was on a post-doc years ago, I would swim at lunch time, and then sit in the sauna. I remember being embarrassed the first time I ran into a student at the sauna, but just decided that we were doing what we were doing, and the sauna etiquette was “don’t talk”, so that was easy. When I’ve been swimming, the rule always seemed to be just “don’t stare”. I loved seeing the different body shapes, though.

I occasionally go to the gym on my way home from work, but I’ve never run into a student or colleague while changing. I have run into colleagues while working out who want to talk about business, and I’m like, “Dude, can’t you see I’m trying to do my workout?” But that’s annoying because if I’m at the gym, I’m trying NOT to think about work. But in my SMALL town, there are two gyms to choose from, so you do run into people.

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By: koshembos http://www.historiann.com/2011/09/24/tales-of-the-small-college-town/comment-page-1/#comment-877304 Sat, 24 Sep 2011 21:03:43 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=16657#comment-877304 Well, well, well, as one who served in the military and then used the university gym with whoever happens to be there, I can say: no big deal. Everyone has about the same equipment.

Everything goes really. You gain the respect of your soldiers or students in your daily dressed contacts. After that they couldn’t care less whether you are dressed or not.

To be extra polite, wear a hat.

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