Friday, June 1, 2018

Top Google Results - "no speedos" rule

Note: this Google survey of cultural attitudes towards different types of swimwear for women and men is a followup to a previous post.

I typed "no speedos" rule (with the "no speedos" part in quotes) into a Google search and then surveyed the first page of results. Here is a summary of what I found, with my comments added:

1. No Speedos Humorous Pool Sign
A novelty sign depicting a "no speedos" rule, for sale. Described as humorous because isn't it hilarious, the very idea of a man wearing briefs for a swimsuit? Those crazy Europeans... I'll tell you, the only place I'd find a "no speedos" sign humorous is if it was hanging up at a "nude only" swimming pool.

2. The Fast Lane: Lounge rules — no Speedos
A snarky article that appears to be poking fun at the dress code rules enacted by Australian airline Qantas, focusing on what constitutes appropriate clothing in their lounges. The specific rules are not reprinted in the article, although I did find this via an independent Google search. The guidelines do not single out speedos - in fact, they mention beachwear generally, and the more modest "boardshorts" in particular. These rules may be a bit smarmy, but given that this is not even a pool or beach, or an area in direct proximity to someplace where people go swimming, I don't know that I would even call this relevant. McDonald's insists that you wear a shirt and shoes inside their restaurant, but that's hardly related to what kind of swimsuits men and women are permitted to wear while swimming - even, potentially, on the same block.

3. Men's Swimming attire in pools
Interestingly, this is a concerned traveler asking whether or not there will be a "speedos only" rule at pools in Egypt (as encountered some places in Europe), as the poster's husband and sons prefer to wear shorts. Only in Europe, am I right? Clearly, this whole discussion is the result not of somebody questioning whether they can wear a speedo, but of the anxiety that they might have to wear one. Because that would just be a nightmare, right? Comments feature your typical rundown of people shocked (and terrified) of the thought of being forced to wear a speedo, with some people even (predictably) calling for them to be outright banned. I get it, you don't like the idea of wearing a speedo. You're probably not very comfortable in your skin. Buy why is that a good justification for preventing other people (some of us in good shape, thank you very much) from wearing them?

4. Mom Fights School Policy That Says Girls "Must" Wear T-Shirts at Pool
This result just goes to show that women's issues dominate the conversation even when you're trying to talk about men's issues. According to the author, a mother in Indiana encountered a sixth grade pool party which required girls to wear a non-white t-shirt over their swimsuits. There was no similar rule for boys - other than your typical "no speedos" clause - highlighting the inequality. The mother fought back (the principal claimed the rule was a punitive response to some girls wearing "very inappropriate" swimsuits in the past), and remarkably, the school relented, changing their policy to make the t-shirts optional. Although, the question remains what the school considers "appropriate swimwear" for girls, because if they can wear bikinis now but boys still can't wear speedos, then that's not very fair.

This is yet another example of a result not concerned with the discussion of actual swimwear restrictions. This could be the case because the rule itself is not that common (so people aren't going to talk about it), or because few people have reason to protest it, unlike the feminist masses who crawl out of the woodwork anytime somebody tries to tell girls what they can and cannot wear. This, instead, is a fictional story that begins with the sentence, "there is nothing more ridiculous than a man wearing a Speedo." Ugh. It even goes on - in as soon as the second paragraph - to acknowledge that this is not because "the guys on my team couldn't pull them off." So, if somebody looks good in a speedo, then what, exactly, is so ridiculous about them wearing it? Are guys not allowed to look attractive? To show off their bodies, the way women do? I would suspect that this is little more than the result of culturally-ingrained homophobia, except for the sheer volume of women who internalize this attitude, too. To demonstrate: I can't speak as to the author, but the narrator in this story is female.

6. speedos & eurocamping in france
Another complaint about a "speedos only" rule - this time at a French campsite. I'd say that I should totally move to France, but if I'm going to go all that way, there's no reason for me not to simply pick an area that's nudist-friendly! It's so weird to think about how much things are flipped. In one country, you show up in a speedo where everybody's wearing shorts, and you get kicked out. In another country, you show up in shorts where everybody's wearing speedos, and you get kicked out. It's so arbitrary. Can't we just leave some room for diversity, and let the people who prefer to wear shorts wear shorts, and let the people who prefer to wear speedos wear speedos? It's not that hard, people...

7. Swimming Pool Dress Code?
I don't like to lean on stereotypes, but this is one case where the stereotype has proven true - Homeowners Associations are a nightmare. On this forum, a member (Anna) asks whether anyone else has dress codes for their pool areas, after getting complaints about "young girls" (why is it relevant that they're young? I don't think she's talking about kids here) wearing "t-backs" (a type of thong - fairly scandalous), and "old men" (of course they're old. I bet they're overweight, too...) wearing speedos.

Ugh. We've finally encountered someone comparing women's thongs to men's briefs (a later comment reads, "Speedos are the male version of the females Butt Floss (g strings)"). How is this fair? I mean, from a popularity standpoint, it's not surprising. Thongs are the next step beyond regular bikinis for women, and briefs are similarly the next step beyond the shorts most men wear to go swimming. But this just highlights the inequality between the sexes. Structurally, men's briefs are comparable to the women's bikini. Thongs, believe it or not, can apply to both sexes equally. Women just have more freedom to expose themselves in public (aside from the nipple issue which topfreedom activists are making headway on).

Anyway, the discussion only devolves further as you scroll down. The very first reply jumps straight to the tired response - nobody over the age of 29 should wear a speedo, to which Anna agrees. (Nice ageism there, Donna - I'm well into my thirties, and I still look great in a speedo, thank you very much). The rest of the comments seem sympathetic, but doubtful about the efficacy of enforcing a stricter dress code (which rather surprises me). But then Anna goes on to out herself as a total racist. She reveals that the "one offender" (I thought there were multiple people, including girls in thongs, or is it just this one person and his many guests?) is European (go figure). She says she's tired of hearing that "Americans are so 'uptight' and 'prudish' about their bodies" (notice the scare quotes). Maybe that's because it's true? Then she goes on to say how she "THOUGHT that American culture was based on morality, decency, dignity, and respect." Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

It gets even worse from there. She suggests that somehow letting the European man do what he's comfortable with infringes on her freedoms, like she's being forced to conform to European standards, when what she really wants is to force the European to conform to her uptight, ostensibly "American" standards. Way to conform to the worst stereotype of the xenophobic American "patriot", Anna. And then she concludes by saying, "I'll get off my soapbox now......before I start on the 'other' people who have had free access to our country." Thank god I don't have to deal with a HOA...

8. Comments on Swimming rules: A slip up in France
A comments page for an article(?) written by a traveler who found, to his dismay, that he was not allowed to wear "Bermuda-style" shorts at a public swimming pool in France. Commenters discuss the possible reasons for this rule (citing hygienic concerns, and the fact that shorts are more likely to be worn as "street clothes" than briefs). Refreshingly, the consensus, for once (albeit not exclusively), is that briefs are superior swimwear to so-called "trunks" (although curiously, this is mixed in with a fair bit of racism directed towards the French). A commenter by the name of Walter Bruno even goes so far as to say, "as an adherent of the classical Greek beauty culture, I abhor Bermuda shorts as unsightly outfits of a degenerated civilization." Amen!

9. 2017 Road Rules Parent Information - Austin Oaks Church
Permission slip and guidelines for some kind of church trip for students. In keeping with the religious theme, modesty is stressed repeatedly, including in choice of swimwear. Guys are required to wear "trunks" - no speedos or jammers. Ladies are "allowed" modest one-piece suits or tankinis - albeit the latter has a caveat: "tops should touch the bottom even with arms raised" (which pretty much defeats the point). I can't find any specific details to suggest what age these kids are supposed to be. As stuffy as these restrictions are, the takeaway, however, is that the rules are attempting to apply fairly to both sexes (although topfreedom activists would rightly have a bone to pick), which is good.

By the way, all this talk about modesty makes me think about how you always have dress code restrictions about how much you have to wear. Why are there never any policies dictating how little must be worn? In an equal society, one should not be either more or less prevalent than the other. Say, for example, "guys: a discernible bulge must be visible", or, "girls: one must be able to draw a line from your neck to your ankles without crossing more than one inch of fabric." Or, "skirts and shorts (for both sexes) must not extend past the fingertips." I don't know. We live in such a sex-negative, gymnophobic society. Why does any of this have to be a bad thing?

[search performed on 5/23/2018]

Tally: Three sites complaining about various "speedos only" rules in Europe, only one of which includes any substantial pro-speedo sentiment. One American HOA member spewing racism against a European neighbor who wears speedos. Two sites dealing with modesty-based rules for both boys and girls, one of which describes activism for girls, while ignoring the boys. Two sites - one a fictional story, and the other a novelty product - treating speedos as a joke. And one site with a dress code irrelevant to swimming.

Though not all of these sites are actively anti-speedo, quite a few of them are, and there is very little support for the suit (and only in a defensive context). Most people are concerned with being forced to wear speedos (in Europe), and ridiculing those who do, while not a single person (other than a few secondary commenters on one site) is celebrating their freedom to do so, or questioning whether to make that choice, in spite of subcultural pushback, as we saw with girls and bikinis.

I'd attribute this to the fact that bikinis are mainstream, while speedos (at least outside of certain parts of Europe) are not. Also, there is more of a cultural backlash against any sort of repression of women. So while there is absolutely an anti-bikini demographic out there, they're not the ones dominating the conversation, and wherever they pop up, there are freedom fighters to shout them down. In contrast, whenever a discussion of speedos pops up (and people don't seem to talk about it as much), the majority chime in to reassure themselves how hilarious and/or disgusting the very idea of it is. Even a fit, twenty year old swimmer in a speedo - while reluctantly justified in his choice of attire - is inexplicably considered a "ridiculous" sight. What is wrong with our culture?

It's amazing how much men are stereotypically expected to be unappealing in the flesh. Maybe this is even statistically true, I don't know - we do have a problem with obesity in this country. I know women are traditionally "objectified" more - as much as I hate that term, it's definitely true that women are valued on their appearance, especially from a sexual perspective, more so than men. If I say "naked woman", the first thing most people are going to think of is some hot model with a perfect beach body. Thanks, media. But if I say "naked man", chances are, most people are going to picture an overweight, older gentleman, and have a hard time deciding whether to laugh or vomit. What do you think this does to men's body image? You think being compared to perfection is the only unhealthy way to view your body? This has definitely been more of a minefield than the "no bikinis" survey.

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