I remember being 8 years old.

In those days I used to go to a sports summer camp. My days were spent playing soccer, ball hockey, touch football, archery, and swimming, amongst other things.

As you may be aware, when one goes swimming it is customary to change into special clothing which is designed especially for the purpose. “Bathing suits”, they’re usually called. If you’ve ever put on a bathing suit, you know that the process usually requires you to expose your genitals at one point or another.

Conveniently, most swimming facilities provide designated changing areas for this process. Public decency being what it is, there are usually two changing rooms – one for men, and one for women.

So, prior to going swimming, we dozen or so 8 year olds headed for our respective changing rooms.

As I began to get changed, however, I could sense the atmosphere in the room change. The other boys were staring at me, aghast.

“You’re going to get changed here?!” one of them asked.

Looking around the room, all of the other boys were lining up for the two bathroom stalls in order to get changed in complete privacy. This confused me. There were about 7 of us in the room. Waiting for the two bathroom stalls seemed like an unnecessary waste of time. We were all mammals, weren’t we? And more to the point, we were all male mammals, weren’t we? Isn’t that what changing rooms are for?

And so I changed. And so they mocked me. And the next day I was going to do the same thing, but they mocked me again and gave me weird looks, so I changed with a towel around my waist. Perhaps I was in the wrong, I thought. Perhaps you’re not allowed to expose yourself even in a changing room.

 

I feel like those two weeks at summer camp left me with a complex that has never had the chance to resolve itself. I don’t tend to frequent public pools, and so I’m very rarely in a changing room of any sort. My elementary school had a changing room, but that was clearly a no nudity zone. In the single-sex high school I went to, the entire bottom floor was effectively a giant changing room. But there were security cameras down there, so again, no nudity. Throughout undergrad I never visited a changing room aside from my forays into the world of fencing and curling, but neither of these activities requires that you strip off completely at any point (unless you’re playing by some really strange rules).

I guess what I’m trying to say in a very roundabout way is that I haven’t seen a ton of dicks in my life. I’ve been pretty sheltered from dicks. I can probably count the number of dicks I’ve seen on one hand (unless we’re counting porn, in which case I’m going to need a few more hands). But now, before and after every Tuesday and Thursday spin class, I use the Queen’s Recreational Facility’s changing room, and let me tell you:

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As someone who has generally stayed in in no-dicks-allowed zones, it’s incredible to see men strutting around with their equipment soaring freely through the air. I’m only in those changing rooms for 3-4 minutes at a time, but it’s 3-4 minutes of me constantly saying to myself “Don’t look at his penis don’t look at his penis don’t look at his- DAMMIT”

The moral of the story, I think, is that you should expose your kids to as many dicks as possible early on in their lives so that they don’t become unstable in changing rooms 15 years down the line.

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