Lust in the locker room: Get over it?

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by Will Cain

(CNN) — On Monday, NBA player Jason Collins disclosed that he is gay, making him the first active openly homosexual athlete in the four major American pro team sports.

His coming out has been the big sports story of the week and has lots of people talking — CNN contributor Will Cain and Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe are no exception. Here’s their discussion:

Will Cain: Chris, you, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Scott Fujita have done a noble job offering support to closeted gay NFL players. If I played in the NFL — preferably for the Dallas Cowboys — I would join you. A few months ago, you wrote a column on CNN.com laying out your position. I could not have joined you on that. I think you went too far when you said:

Players — Those of you worried about a gay teammate checking out your ass in the shower, or hitting on you in the steam room, or bringing too much attention to the team — I have four simple words for you. Grow the f*** up.

I am a pro-gay marriage conservative. And I’m pretty damn confident in my sexuality. If we all get naked and go to brunch, I’m not going to be uncomfortable. But that’s not a standard I expect of everyone. Yet, all of sudden, this seems to be the standard.

Anyone uncomfortable sharing a locker room — being naked — with someone else who is potentially attracted to them is labeled “afraid of gay people,” insecure or a homophobe. This is what happened to former NBA player Larry Johnson this week when he tweeted:

I don’t Jason Collins personally but he seems like a great guy. Me personally gay men in the locked room would make me uncomfortable .

I think we’re asking too much. Johnson’s discomfort isn’t illogical. And I bet he’s hardly the only one who feels this way.

Chris Kluwe: I would counter that with this — there was a time when White men were uncomfortable showering with Black men, or having them in the locker room. But as long as someone respects your personal space and doesn’t harass you (verbally, physically or sexually), I fail to see what their sexuality, religion, race or personal beliefs have to do with any comfort or discomfort you might feel.

Will: I don’t think the Black people-White people analogy is a good parallel. That was discomfort driven by racism. This is discomfort driven by potential sexual attraction. The better analogy is gender. Why do we have separate bathrooms for men and women?

Chris: No, this is discomfort driven by sexism. Has there ever been a single reported case of sexual harassment in a professional sports environment by one player toward another? What makes you think that because all of a sudden a player is allowed to openly be himself that he’s immediately going to start mounting every guy in sight? Isn’t that the very definition of narcissistic tendencies by straight men who think that way? What makes you think you’re that player’s type, or that he would ever be attracted to you?

One of the reasons we have separate bathrooms for women and men is because men have a long history of violent behavior toward women, particularly when they feel women are vulnerable. And so we have separated the sexes in those situations.

Are you telling me that a professional athlete wouldn’t be able to defend himself in the shower if a gay teammate suddenly decided, despite every single social norm we are raised with, that he was going to start humping his teammate’s leg in a work environment?

Will: No. I’m not telling you that. I’m not making any of the arguments you just blasted.

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