Monday, July 21, 2008

Locker Room Gender Issues

We need to talk about this. This is getting very serious and I need a general blogging world consensus on this one. I'm not looking for any specific answer nor am I hoping anyone will pander to me by telling me what you think I may want to hear; I just need to know.

When is it no longer OK for a father to bring his daughter into men's public restrooms or locker rooms? When is it no longer OK for a mother to bring her son into women's public restrooms or locker rooms? I imagine the appropriate age for restrooms is probably a little older than for locker rooms. But I would like to know what you all think. Before I blab on about what I think is appropriate, let me lay out the story that brought this topic on.

June 25ish, 2008. I went to work out at a local gym that I frequently use. I was in the locker room, putting my bag in the locker, tying my shoes--the usual--when, to my horror, walked in a father and his daughter. Now some of you are thinking "well I've brought my daughter in the locker room before if her mother isn't with me. What was I supposed to do?" But this particular daughter was AT LEAST 8 years old and quite capable of going in her own locker room to take care of bui'ness. In this particular rec center, you have to go through the locker rooms to get to the pool. The locker rooms are not very big and they are right next to each other; it's just a straight shot past the lockers and open community showers, which are frequently used by the way, out to the pool. It was obvious that the father started to realize how terrible this idea was about halfway through the locker room as he started walking really fast, pushing his not-so-young daughter along---by the way, her eyes were wide and full of shock the entire time.

What was this man thinking???!!!! I vividly remember experiences and images from when I was 4 years old and certainly from when I was at least 8. Was he terrified that his daughter would get lost on the incredibly short walk through her locker room where he would meet her in about 8 seconds on the other side? Was he worried that letting her do something alone would most definitely trigger an alarm for every child predator within each of the surrounding communities? If he's that paranoid, I hope he doesn't let his 3rd grade child go to school where he can't keep a watchful eye on her or so much as walk out to get the mail. But even still, for the paranoid there was a way out of this; this rec center employs 8 or 9 older women who are extremely accessible and walk around all day cleaning and talking to the members of the gym. This man easily could have asked one of them to escort his daughter through the women's locker room. Another possibility is that the girl is terrified to go through the locker room without her dad. If this is the case then either the parents need to find a way to get the child to overcome this fear or else dad just simply can't take his daughter to the pool without having mom or older sister there. Taking the at-least-8-years-old daughter into the men's locker room should not have been an option unless she was blind. And by the look on the kid's face as she walked past several very elderly decrepit naked men---she was most definitely NOT blind.


  1. Ewwwww!!! I personally try to avoid going into the locker rooms to avoid the decrepit, dirty, naked old men. I pity this little girl for the emotional scarring that was inflicted upon her. I think the latest would be four years old through the Locker room. I have no idea with the bathroom though; they don't generally have community showers in them. Nothing like the "Tree of Life" to cause permament scarring.

  2. I know different parents have different ideas of what is right for their families, but for us, it's not okay for our 4 year old daughter to go in the men's restroom. Period.
    I'm inclined to feel the same way toward a son should we ever have one.

  3. You write about some of the craziest stuff! I love it :-).

    Most rec centers have large signs posted on the doors not to take your opposite gendered children over age 3 through the locker rooms. Most rec centers also have publicly accessible family dressing rooms for parents to use if they need to be with their older children - such as I do when we go swimming without the hubby. My boys aren't quite ready to get themselves ready for that activity, but they are both certainly too old to be in the ladie's room.

    BTW, I've seen 5-6 year old boys in the restroom area of the women's locker room and have the same reaction you did...get your kids out of here! They're WAY too old to be in here!

  4. Maybe you were in Switzerland??? If you were, then obviously you're the one with the problem! Krishelle, Bridgette and I walked into the "gym" in our upscale hotel in Bern and saw entire families parading around without their clothes on -- some in the pool, some in the locker rooms, some in the sauna, some in the tanning beds. Krishelle and Bridgette immediately turned around and ran back to the room completely freaked out. I, on the other hand, was much braver and wanted to experience Europe as a local, so I went in (with my clothes on, of course)... I lasted about 10 minutes before I ran back to the room, completely freaked out.

    I really don't know how to answer your question... Probably, since you're in Utah, maybe three years old should be the cut-off age. But, if you're in Europe, remember that YOU'RE the one with the problem and not the dad who has his entire family practicing naked backflips from the diving board at the hotel pool.

  5. I would say at about 4 or 5 years old I would try to insist my kid walk through the locker room on their own to get to the pool. I say "try" because I have seen my niece and nephew decide that they are afraid to do something and completely refuse. If that were the case, I would probably try to find someone who worked there to walk them through like you suggested.

    If they still refused, I would take them home. At least they would learn a lesson from it.

    By the time they are six, there is no reason for them to be walking through the opposite gender's locker room.

  6. Well, if they lived in Montgomery County, MD it wouldn't have mattered, or at least they're trying to make it so. A bill was put before the state to de-gender public restroom facilities. Can you even imagine? The arguments for it (cross dressers are the only ones I can remember) are so ridiculous and such an exception. Maybe I'll use your story to help fight it.

  7. i say once they can walk, they're on their own...... I'm going to be a great parent.

    update, I got into both BYU and Utah as a transfer, but I think we're sticking around here. It was a nice foray into "who-wants-me-now land," anyway.

    you totally stoked to start school? i know i'm not

  8. I have two thoughts for you to consider.

    1. You cannot assume anything. My husband is 6'10". My barely six year old is as tall as her 8-9 year old friends. You cannot look at a child and assume their age. Neither can you look at a child and assume they do not have a disability. Many children have disabilities that do not show.

    2. Horrible things happen. All the time. When I was pregnant with said 6 year old there was a story in the news about an extended family on vacation together. A little boy (about 6 I think) needed to use the restroom at a park. The aunt walked him to the bathroom, and waited outside the door. A few minutes later a man walked out. After waiting a few minutes more she opened the door to see if he was alright. He was dead. The man who walked out was waiting in the restroom for an opportunity. He sexually assaulted the little boy and slit his throat while his aunt stood 10 feet away on the other side of a door. Now, which is more traumatic?

    Obviously in your story the dad realized his mistake. Dad's are usually a little bit clueless. Mom's think things out and dad's just go with the flow. He made a mistake and realized it. He fixed it the best he knew how at the moment. Cut him some slack.

    Having said all that, I am with Uncle Will. Its a culture thing, and who's to say ours is the most healthy?

    1. wow that's sexist! dad's are a little bit clueless mom's thinks things out, men don't just go with the flow, spoken by a obviously clueless mom, or a manless one

  9. Good insights. I never intended to sound too critical of the overly paranoid, as I am one of them--just ask any member of my family, especially those that have traveled with me. You should also see me watch my nieces and nephew; I all but have a rope tied around all three of them at all times.

    But STILL, if I was worried about this particular situtation, we simply would find another activity that didn't involve locker rooms or pools. He also could have blind-folded her--that's a thought. Any harm in that?

    I'm totally down with naked European culture. I've always felt like I would fit in well over there. But this isn't Europe--and you can't just jump into something like that.

  10. Yeah. Holy crap. That is NASTY. I remember seeing that happen when I was on swim team in high school, and public swim was right after our practice. It always used to creep me out and the age cutoff if a good question. 8 years old is definitely WAY too old. I think that shortly after they can talk, as soon as they start realizing the differences between boys and girls. All in all, if you have to go through the locker room, you should be going with a parent of the same gender to the pool.

  11. I think we should not be Ashamed of our bodies and should learn to respect one another.

    I believe many gender attitudes and such and segregation and stereotypes lead to sex crimes and sexual harassment.

    Pretty soon American would be like europe , it will take about 2 or 3 decades.

    I think companies that forbid a mother from taking a 4,5,6 year old boy or a handicapped person should be sued and slapped with fines and lawsuits. That's discrimination in my opinion, also violating rights of the disabled.

    Look at the Story, if you let your young child along in the restroom she/he can be Raped/mutilated or killed all because of this so called No opposite gender allowed.

    Personally a sexual PREDATOR WOULD LOVE FOR NO MEN TO BE THERE WITH A FEW WOMEN in the locker room out of reach so they can't call or get help.

    I am in favor of legislation to balance out concerns.

    1. Apparently, you've never been to Europe.

  12. SellarSMichelle: Thanks so much for being the next person to take things too seriously, whoever you are.

    But while you've set the mood: I don't care how terribly liberal or Europeanized you think this world should be, children are very impressionable and while you might think it's fine to frollic in the trees naked while screeming that our bodies are beautiful and anyone who can't see that is a pervert, kids don't have the same reasoning abilities and those sorts of images can negatively affect them for the rest of their lives. If you don't think addictions to pornography are unhealthy--that they don't ruin lives--that being exposed to private elements of strangers' lives can't have some sort of addictive psychological affect on people, especially children who are still pretty ignorant of their bodies and hormones--then I think you are the intollerant and ignorant one.

    Next: You'll notice, once again, that I did NOT say that the alternative to taking your 10 year old child into a locker room yourself is to let them wander in alone with a sign on them pleading for sexual predators to look their way. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO LET THE KID GO IN ALONE, DON'T TAKE THEM TO THE GYM UNTIL THERE IS SOMEONE WHO CAN TAKE THE KID IN FOR YOU!!!

    And please don't use this blog for your own liberal exploits. I don't care how much you worship socialism or think that anyone who doesn't pray to Carl Marx is intollerant: liberal thoughts will not be praised here.

    Thanks for reading though!

  13. Eli, I think you are misconstrued as to what I was saying.

    Every person is different, and there are different situations that apply to different people.

    A mother can have a child with who is disabled, or who has autism. There may also be people who have religious sensitives to being exposed to naked people not just of the opposite sex , but of the same sex.

    For some people, it isn't okay to be nude with the same sex as is common in locker rooms, I've heard that womens locker rooms are more private compared to the mens because some people think men are more stereotypically flaunt their bodies.

    For the record there are also a lot of male to male sexual predators and perverts . I believe that things can be misconstrued and that in order for everyone to have a fair debate , lets be honest and also level playing it, regardless of being conservative (no nudity allowed between the same sexes) liberal (people who don't care) and then people who think nudity is okay between the same sex but not the opposite sex.

    The world is very diverse , more conservative then you or I and more liberal than you or I, in terms of religion, race, attitudes,etc.

    I would like a reply.

    1. Autisim is worse. If you take your opposite sex autisim kid in the bathroom, they peek through the stalls, if you take them in the locker room, they will probably pull the curtains open. I don't see why moms can't just ask a male employee to take their kid into the male locker room. I personally don't think ANY male should be in the women's locker room no matter what situation the mom is in. If a mom takes her 10 year old son in the women's locker room, and another mom takes her 10 year old daughter into the women's locker room, they are in the same class, and it is just AWKWARD. Same with dad and daughter.

  14. Michelle

    I apologize for my comments of several months ago--I think they came out much more strongly than appropriate.

    I would like to respond to your comment but I'm not sure I understand it very well. I do understand that people come with various needs and from various backgrounds; however, the bottom line is that parents have a duty and obligation to protect their small children from anything that can inflict lasting damage. In this specific post, there was a father, who, however he saw the needs of his child, could have handled a situation that was potentially uncomfortable for her and for the people in the room, much better. I am for parents being sensitive to these issues.

    Please don't hesitate to respond and I'll do my best to address your questions.

    As always--thanks for reading! Please enjoy my other posts which hopefully won't be taken too seriously :)

  15. Good Morning, Eli

    This comment was posted several months ago, I was just browsing over the web.

    I agree in this context it may have been inappropriate as to what happened, but this was a larger context , a lot of people are also uncomfortable with being naked with the same sex.

    A lot of people including ones who are conservative jews, christians, mormons,etc are rightfully not comfortable with being immodest with the same sex.They also practice what they preach.

    Unfortunately, in america as a whole we don't seem to grasp either picture. On the one hand, there are those don't seem to mind but then there are those that seem hypocritical.

    What should happen, is that both men's and women's locker rooms should have privacy chambers and everyone should be respectful.

    However, many fitness club designers assume that men don't require or don't want privacy and thus while some men strut around naked, a lot of people including a lot of people I know find that to be immodest and hypocritical and rightfully so.

    Once a friend of mind, took his male 6 year old child to the men's locker room and he was visibly upset and scared because there were old people/middle aged men strauting around the locker room naked while putting on clothes instead of being a bit more respectful and careful of privacy/modesty.

    Instead of doing the proper thing and staying to yourself and getting dress they went into the changing area outside of the shower and strauted around in the nude. While its a locker room , they seem to think its okay to straut and move around.

    Many posters agree, but a lot of people simply ignore the issue and deal with just opposite-sex issues or the male to female gender issues.

    In context, suppose a 5-6 year old boy had a 50-60 year old male teacher in the same gym locker room and there were talking about everything from school grades to various subjects. That would not be appropriate , even an 8-10 year old boy lets use him as an example if he is using the changeroom himself without parental supervision. If its not appropriate in public and indecent for a male teacher in the classroom it shouldn't be in the locker room either to straut around, although most people mind their business in the locker room even while flaunting in context.

    However, in America this is perfectly acceptable to some and those who say its perfectly acceptable fret if its a girl instead of a boy, even though there are a lot and a ton of male predators that pick on boys, especially on those undercover cop shows.

    I know I've rambled a bit but its an issue both on the conservative and liberal side. Unfortunately a lot of our fellow americans don't seem to grasp and to a large extent ignore the issue.

  16. I visited family in Morocco a few years back where they have communal bathing. Being nude with women of all ages didn't bother me but the staring, wide-eyed boys of up-to-age-10 made me a bit uncomfortable.

    1. I agree. I am 11 and if I saw a boy around my age I would freak out. I don't even think 3 year olds should be in there, they will still remember it. And I think there should be a thing where a mom/dad can ask an employee the same sex of their child to take them into their own locker room and supervise them.

  17. Why couldn't he just make her go into the ladies' locker room? I am 11 and I was with my 9 year old friend and her step dad was with us and you had to get to the pool by going into the locker room and we went into the ladies room and met him outside. Nothing is going to happen oh my gosh you don't have the right to bring your kid who is older than 4 into the locker room when they are capable of dressing and showering themselves. and if you are afraid something will happen, that is your problem not mine.

  18. WTF / What's the big deal?
    We were all born that way.
    Even so,
    I can respect other people's reservations and hang-ups
    be modest...