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Girls and Communal Showers

May 19 2013 at 11:53 AM
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Noel1835  (no login)

 
It seems like every time I see something on these forums---CN, FBF, NSF...about a teenager all distraught over having to take a communal shower, it's a boy. I never seem to hear similar worries from girls, or horror stories about their showers in school.

The scene in Carrie with Sissy Spacek seems to show that they took communals too. There was a girl in junior I often saw with wet hair in the halls, indicating she showered. (Oddly, she's the only girl I remember who had it.)If girls communally showered, why don't they have their "trauma" stories? If they're more modest, if not by nature, then by culture, why do we hear so little from them about their experiences. Maybe they do talk about it as much as males, but it's just on other forums. Anybody have any ideas?

 
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BlueTrain
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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May 22 2013, 6:15 AM 

You have raised an interesting question. I don't think I've seen this asked anywhere before. But maybe they aren't reading the same forums. On some of these forums, women are not treated kindly, so they don't post anything. But beyond that, the reasons aren't so mysterious.

I don't know what the shower situation is in schools any more, since it has been a very long time since I was in school and for that matter, at least eight years since either of our children were in high school. While they were in high school, I never once thought to ask anything about their gym classes. While I was in high school, I don't ever recall a moment outside of gym class when anything about gym was even mentioned. When you are a teenager, you live in the present, which doesn't include anything that happened an hour ago.

I had a nude group swimming experience when I had a summer job with a bunch of other high school boys. We swam nude at the local university pool. The next day it was well in the past and when I returned home at the end of summer, it was ancient history.

I definately have no personal and first hand knowledge of what girls do after gym. Girls, of course, do not sweat, so there is less need of a shower. At least, that's the impression I got from asking someone here maybe 20 years younger than me about what she did in gym. I think she said they had a group shower but she faked taking a shower. I do know, however, that where I went to college, the girls did not have open dressing rooms. They had, I don't know, stalls or booths. I know because I actually had a class in the girls phys ed buidling (the former E. Moore Hall at W.V.U.). But I still don't know anything about their showers and I don't remember anything at all about showers for my own gym classes there. Absolutely nothing. But the memories of the showers in junior high and high school are pretty vivid but there was nothing traumatic about them.

The wet hair thing is easy: girls wear shower caps. Even my daughter still does. She is living at home now while her husband is deployed overseas. But I'm not about to ask her anything about gym.

 
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Noel1835
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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May 29 2013, 11:28 AM 

Here's what Wikipedia had to say about gender and perspiration:

"A study has discovered that men, on average, start perspiring much more quickly than women, then twice as much when they are in the middle of exercising at the same relative intensity.[8] When men and women exercise at the same absolute intensity there are no differences in sweating responses."

You've written you and your class didn't sweat much during PE. I remember me and mine sweating buckets. It seems like I sweated more and stank more in my teens than I do now. Does that happen with age? Maybe how much you sweat is not only a gender thing, but an individual thing.

Maybe the girls wearing shower caps in school showers explains why you didn't see most walking around with wet hair in school, but maybe they dried it with a towel like the boys did. It can't remember boys walking around with wet hair either. A lot of my PE classes seemed to be the last period, but my memory's hazy on that. I don't remember a rule or expectation that we had to wash our hair after PE though certainly it makes good sense to. I know many (most?) did. I may not have. I can't remember.

Yes, it does seem there's been a double standard in judging women's comments as "inappropriate" on these forums. I welcome their perspective.


 
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BlueTrain
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Sweat

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May 30 2013, 11:22 AM 

Thanks for helping to keep this forum alive. Send in them cards and letters and keep this forum on the air! (You probably need to be American to understand that).

This reminds me of a joke from the old radio show Fibber McGee: McGee had just finished a project building something for the little girl who is a neighbor. He had just remarked that he really worked up a sweat. The little girl remined him that "horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow." His response was "Well, if you work like a horse, you can go ahead and sweat like one, too."

But we didn't work like horses in our gym classes, starting in grade school (where there were no showers or special gym clothes). In some cases, it amounted to a lot of standing around waiting your turn to do something like climb a rope, make a free throw with a basketball or something like that. Rarely was it anything really streneous. Even in the army did we do much of anything that resulted in us really working up a sweat (at least by my standards). At the time (1965), there was no special PT clothing like there is now. I even recall a photo of a group of female soldiers (called WACs at the time) sometime during WWII doing PT in a large formation. They're wearing skirts, shirts and neckties and cardigan sweaters. None appeared to be so much as glowing. I also recall that during the army, even when stationed in Kansas and in Oklahoma in the summertime, I somehow managed to wear the same outfit two or three days in a row. But you had to. You had four sets of either (cotton) khakis or the olive green fatigues (also cotton). Two pair were in the laundry, leaving you with only two sets to get you through the week until the laundry came back. You couldn't wash them yourself because they had to be starched and pressed until they were like cardboard.

Honestly, I don't know how we managed. At least there were showers.

 
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Big Naked John
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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June 11 2013, 2:18 PM 

In order to get a woman's perspective, I asked my wife. Amy went to a very small school, there were only six girls in her grade, and they all took gym at the same time.

She said they all shared a communal shower, and never really had any issues. Amy thinks it was because there were so few of them, and they all got along well, that they lacked the "drama" you might get in a larger group. They were all quite comfortable, she said, being nude around each other.

Many years later she joined a gym with a pool, and would shower off afterward in the communal shower. I guess by then though all being adults they were well past the teenage angst stuff. Amy said it was funny, some women wouldn't look you in the eye in the shower, wouldn't talk much. Other women were just as chatty and friendly as if you met them at a garden tea party and not standing buck naked in a shower.

Hey, somebody pass me the soap!

 
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Anonymous
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Double standard?

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December 18 2013, 11:12 PM 

At a church summer mission trip to Tennessee, the church we stayed at was next to the football field of the local high school.
There were shower facilities underneath the stands for one team and then a nearby building for the other team.

When I first arrived I visited both locations and was not sure which was which.
Imagine my surprise to discover the mens' shower area was communal with pole showering, as one of the chaperones joked to me, 'we just kind of have to stand around and look at each other' while the womens' shower area I discovered was not only individual shower areas set up like cubicles but each contained a makeshift shower curtain as well.

Women shower. They just usually get more privacy than us guys.

 
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BlueTrain
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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December 19 2013, 8:14 AM 

To be sure, there is a double standard. I think there always will be. There's lots of double standards.

We have showers here at work because, I guess, we have an exercise room. It's not a gym but there's exercise equipment and a few very dedicated people work out. One even gets here at 6:30 in the morning to do her thing. She takes a shower afterwards. The showers are one-stall affairs with a tiny little locker room. One for the boys, one for the girls. Although I know of three or four who use the exercise room, I don't know if they all take showers or not before changing back into their regular clothes.

I had mentioned in a previous post and hope I don't repeat myself by mentioning that gym classes in junior high and high school were in rather chilly gyms in the wintertime, so that's one reason we didn't exactly work up much of a sweat.

 
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Marty
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Girls had Communal Showers

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December 19 2013, 9:43 AM 

I don't see any dates attached to any of these recollections. I asked my wife about her experiences in locker rooms, and all she remembered, and vaguely at that, was from high school and college in and around the early 1950s. She's pretty sure there were no private cubicles, and quite certain that none of the girls were at all concerned about being naked with other girls. That's similar to my experience in boys' and men's locker rooms starting in my childhood in the 1930s. Any "trauma" about being naked with others of the same sex started later than that.

 
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BlueTrain
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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December 20 2013, 1:23 PM 

I think my wife graduated from high school in 1970. I graduated from high school in 1964. If there was any drama associated with taking showers at school, I'm pretty sure it was there all along. We had gym in grade shool, both indoors and out but there were no special gym clothes or showers. That only started in junior high school, although I don't remember which year. However, there was no junior high school when I started school, just elementary (or primary) school and secondary or high school. I'm not sure what the cut-off was before the junior high school was created, which was 7th, 8th and 9th grade. So some of the things we did in junior high school, including showers after gym and shop and for the girls, home ec, were then being done at a younger age than before.

The junior high I attended had been the high school and in fact, it was the one my mother graduated from in 1932. In a sense, it was an "inner city" school because even though it was a small town of less then 10,000 (even less now), the school was square in the middle of town and didn't even have a parking lot.

One of the assumptions generally made in these and related discussions was that no one, boys at least, never had any problems with being naked around other boys and, if what some claim is true, even around girls and women. That is obviously a totally irrational assumption, just the same as saying that kids today have body issues. Judging from how they dress, that's also totally irrational, I'd have to say. I have no idea why anyone things kids have serious problems because they aren't wearing clothes that were fashionable 40 years ago. Remember, there were adults, not necessarily parents (never a requirement to complain) who had issues with the way teenagers were dressing 40 and 50 years ago. It was all because of that rock and roll music, too, don't you know.

None of this of course has to do with casual nudity. If you had to take a shower in school, which I assure you they may not have wanted to, then they were supposed to, whether or not they actually did.

 
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Marty
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Assumptions about casual nudity

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December 21 2013, 7:17 PM 

BlueTrain: I confess that I'm taking some of your remarks personally, though I know I shouldn't, so please bear with me.

You say you graduated from high school in 1964, and "if there was any drama associated with taking showers at school, I'm pretty sure it was there all along." How can you be "pretty sure" about things that happened before your time?

I graduated from high school in 1949. As far as I remember, there wasn't any "drama associated with taking showers at school" then, and as far as I can tell from your remarks, there wasn't much if any when you went to school fifteen years later. The "drama" seems to have come about later.

You wrote "One of the assumptions ... was that no one, boys at least, never had any problems with being naked around other boys and ... even around girls and women. That is a totally irrational assumption." This is where I get personally annoyed. I'm not making any "assumptions." I'm truthfully reporting my own experience, and I think most people who post on this subject are also truthfully reporting their own experience. I don't remember any boys having any problems with being naked around other boys when I was a boy, though I'm hearing a lot about it happening later. As for being naked around girls and women, that's a completely different issue.

I'm convinced that customs depend not only on time but on place. Where I grew up, casual nudity within the same sex was unremarkable, as long as there was some reason for it, but exposing one's genitals to the opposite sex was taboo. I've seen reports that in other places, such as the U.S. Midwest, boys could be casually naked around girls and women, even with no particular reason for it, but that was not my experience.

I don't think you can infer anything about kids' "body issues" by "judging from how they dress." Exposing one part of the body doesn't imply anything about exposing another part of the body. I don't know first hand about kids these days, but I keep seeing grown men wrapping themselves in towels to go to or from the enclosed shower stalls in locker rooms, and reading about men complaining that when they were boys they were "forced" to shower naked with other boys, and making judgments about boys "forced" to swim naked in the bad old days. When I was a boy, and maybe even when you were a boy, we weren't "forced" to swim naked. We just swam naked. Casually.

Please, pardon me if I seem a little testy. I'm 82 years old, and I don't like my personal experiences being called "assumptions." Grump, grump.

And yes, we're getting off topic. It's supposed to be about girls, remember? But I'm still annoyed. Grump.

 
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Nat
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Childhood experiences

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December 22 2013, 9:55 AM 

Marty, I'm not as old as you, but my recollections of how things were in the 1950s-60s have often been at odds with Bluetrain's. I don't know if its because we grew up in different parts of the country, or different social-economic strata or what but we have often argued about how things were during our childhoods on NSF and POTPOURRI. While I'm sure things did vary in different parts of the country I've contented that my experiences growing up in a fairly large southern city was more representative of the country as a whole than Blue's in a rural area in the hills of West Virgina.

. . . . .

 
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Marty
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Naked boys (and men)

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December 22 2013, 11:35 AM 

Nat, BlueTrain, I'm at a loss here. I'm relatively new to these forums and I'm not clear how your (and anyone else's) experiences differ. I'd like to discuss that in detail, nailing down time and place for each actual experience.

Obviously that discussion doesn't belong in this thread but I don't know where it should be. To be clear about eligibility, I strip naked at clothes optional beaches, sleep naked and work out naked, but when I'm clothed I wear underwear (except on rare occasions when I'm wearing work clothes that will go into the wash immediately).

I don't think we need to argue if we're clear about when and where we had each experience. We should end up with specific examples of how much nakedness boys were accustomed to at different times in different places.

If you're willing, please respond with a link (or at least a clue) to where we could have this discussion.

 
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Nat
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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December 22 2013, 11:55 AM 

Well sure Marty, we could have this discussion at one of my forums- POTPOURRI.
As the name suggest- we talk about everything there and just clicking "POTPOURRI" will take you there.


. . . . .

 
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BlueTrain
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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December 23 2013, 7:28 AM 

Well, sir, Mr. Marty, I'm sorry if you took my comments personally. However, I am not here as a yes man to confirm Nat's (usually it's Nat) own experiences by saying that mine were exactly the same. They usually weren't and in fact, I'd venture to say that my experiences would have been different even if we'd lived in the same town at the same time.

I do not intend that my comments are representative of anything except my own experiences and those of people I have actually known. That means they're actually quite limited. I'm also leary of "assumptions" one way or the other, though I'm often guilty of making a few. Discussions usually start with some assumptions, "for the sake of discussion," as they say.

I make a response on Potpourri and hopefully I don't contradict myself too many times. Understand that in all cases, my comments are not necessarily based on what actually happened but rather on what I remember happening, which can be different. In a few cases, photographic evidence is disturbingly contradictory. In any event, I'm only "pretty sure" of things that happened when I was in high school 50 years ago and not absolutely 100% certain. My report cards confirmed that I was only "pretty sure" about a lot of things. Unfortunately I never was able to talk to my father about his high school experiences because he never went to high school.

Nat asserts that boys never had problems with communal nudity when he was in school. Well, I think that assumtion is unwarranted and is made to prove a point. I have no idea what most of the other boys in my gym classes thought (a couple I do know about, though) about being nude with all the other boys there. I "SUSPECT" that a few MIGHT have had a problem with it. But see my post on the other forum for additional comments about group nudity.

Here's another point: most of these boys were boys that I'd known for years, which is not to say they were friends. Changing clothes in front of total strangers, who were grown men, was another story. Not a lot of drama but a matter of some concern just the same. Perhaps that's the case today at gyms, assuming you aren't friends with the other members of the gym. Personally, I don't see why anyone's modesty should be a problem but to some people it seems to be perceived as a deep psychological problem.

To be more specific, I lived in Princeton, West Virginia, and attended Mercer County schools until the end of the first semester of my senior year when we moved to the next county where I finished school. I did not have gym at the other school. I attended West Virginia University, graduating in 1971, with three years in the army in between. I took gym in college as a freshman but have hardly any memory of it (unlike high school and junior high). We had gym in grade school but there were no showers and no gym uniform. My time in the army was spent at Ft. Knox (as was my father and my son), Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, Ft. Riley, Kansas, and the rest of the time in Augsburg, Germany. I got out in 1968. I served for a year in the D.C. National Guard. I now live in Northern Virginia where I got married in 1979 in Washington, D.C. I have a daughter who lives in Germany and a son who lives in California. I would prefer not to be more specific than that.

 
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Marty
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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December 23 2013, 9:44 AM 

BlueTrain, could you copy the essence of that last post to the "Naked boys (and men)" thread on Potpourri? The location information, the difference between the presence of friends and strangers, and the unreliability of memory would be valuable contributions to that thread.

I want to make clear that I was, and am, apologizing for taking your remarks personally. It was an automatic emotional response that I knew had no rational foundation. That's the way it often is with feelings, isn't it? Let it rest. I value your contributions; please continue (in the appropriate thread, as this one is supposed to be about girls [grin] ... ).

 
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BlueTrain
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I've had to apologize

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December 23 2013, 10:03 AM 

Nat and I have had sparks over the months and sometimes I've gotten a little peeved but I'm still here. I have, however, stopped visiting other forums because basically I am out of line with the general sentiment of those other places. In other words, I'm politically incorrect.

I'm not here to dispute, really, the experiences that other have (or claimed to have had) but instead to contribute my own, at least that's the theory.

I'll try to repost some of that on the other board if I get the time. I'm not operating on borrowed time; it's stolen time.

Another thing about my posts is they aren't academic papers carefully written and edited but mostly are entirely off the cuff. So they aren't always going to be well referenced, cross-checked or written in good English.

 
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Anonymous
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Changing times

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December 23 2013, 4:48 PM 

It is a matter of changing times. The modesty of little boys, teenage boys, young men and male adults was not really thought of at the turn of the century because there was just nothing to really make it happen. Bathing was done in rivers or public baths or washtubs in the kitchen for awhile until indoor plumbing came about but then it took some time for things to settle down. And then you had the YMCA where swimming naked with other boys and older adult men was considered perfectly natural and normal. After all everyone there had a penis so why would you want to be shy, it was considered 'manly' to go naked in front of your male peers regardless of age.

But as school showers slowly began to be eliminated due to times in the school schedules not allowing, scouts stopped going naked in rivers or pools due to lawsuits and fears of lawsuits and / or pedophiles, the daycare center scandals of pedophile behavior started popping up, the world began to change. People began to fear being naked around one another and the adults were raising their children to feel the same. That is why you see the towel dances in today's locker rooms from the kids. The male adults is a different matter.

I grew up shy and modest but became interested in nudism in my 20s. Today at age 38 I am not ashamed or bothered to be seen naked by either sex and it seems foolish and silly to be covering up around another male, regardless if it is a nine year old boy or a 40 year old man. We all have the same parts and we are all different sizes, lengths, erect, etc. why cover up when the same sex is involved.

I think it is a cultural change combining with modesty issues due to not being nude around peers growing up. I know in gym class we changed down to our underwear and back, never showering. And I never saw my peers naked that much growing up and was only seen naked by my peers a few times. Embarrassed each time due to my modesty issues but as I have written I am now over all of that and find nudity especially around the same sex to be natural and non sexual. So what if another man sees your penis? Do you think he has anything that you do not have? I wish the towel dances would just go away and things could feel 'normal' again.

 
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BlueTrain
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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January 2 2014, 6:30 AM 

And what is normal? And when have the times not been changing?

I have only commented on things with which I had direct experience, which means very little. I have no first hand experience with what high school was like before or after I was in school, so I am reluctant to criticize anyone for their "modest" behavior, as if modesty were a sin or a sign of mental retardation.

I used to think I was shy, though not particularly modest. Later I realized I wasn't shy at all, just quiet. I'm still that way, although sometimes I've been to a 7-11 and upon leaving, noticed that I spoke to everyone in the store. I live in a place where a lot of people are foreign and I'm always asking people where they're from. Usually they seem flattered that someone's interested I expect I irritate a few people, too. But I'd still describe myself as quiet. In fact, I was voted "quietest" in high school in the senior superlatives. The irony there is that you have to be well known to be voted anything.

I noticed that you didn't mention gays in your comments. I would expect that more boys are worried about gays than anything else in school as far as being seen naked. If anyone was gay when I was in high school, they certainly kept it well hidden.

One definition of normal, you understand, is that which everyone does. There are a few who like to say that wearing clothes isn't normal. So, what do you think?

 
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Ken
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Here in the UK

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January 5 2014, 3:57 AM 

At my school in the 1980s boys had to strip naked and walk to the showers without a towel, often had to walk through another changing room where another class may be getting talk from the teacher before going to gym class. Part of that naked walk involved going past an open door to the rest of the school, although only boys end of the school. Showers were open and on display to the rest of the changing room. I cant remember anyone having any trauma about having to do any of this.

The Girls had a smiler changing room arrangement, but would strip under a towel and walk to the showers in their towel. The showers had curtains around them so none of them had to be naked in front of each other. They said they would try and keep the curtains tightly shut and panic in case someone accidentally opened their curtain.

Talking to guys that went to the same school in the 1990s the shower arrangements were still the same, however it wasn't compulsory to use them. If they do use them they left on their shorts and just rinsed off arms and legs.

Also seeing a change in changing rooms in pubic places like swimming pools. The once separate mens/woomans changing rooms are being turned into one big "changing village" full of individual cubicles. I personally don't like these and don't like been confined to a small cubical when getting changed, or having to shower in my shorts.

 
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BlueTrain
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Re: Girls and Communal Showers

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January 6 2014, 7:10 AM 

Well, like I say, my experiences have been limited.

A changing room and shower arrangement in which kids have to walk in front of open doors in view of others would be seen as quite bizarre just about anywhere. In high school, the shower was at one end of the changing room, which was not a locker room, just a changing room. In the junior high school, however, the shower room was down the hall, although you didn't go by any doors along the way. It was a very old school building and the changing room was literally a hole-in-the-wall.

I must admit that I have no memory whatsoever of my first gym class when I had to take a shower. Some things remain vivid, however, like the changing rooms. We had a city pool that I sometimes went to a few times in the summer. Usually I had to get there on my bike if I wanted to go and it was a couple of miles away. The changing room was open to the sky. There were benches in the middle and in large open front cubicles along two sides and showers on the other side. You were supposed to take a shower before you went in the pool but it was not enforced as I recall. I do remember being very nervous about changing clothes in front of strangers, who would have been older men.

 
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