Yeah, I know. "Kichi, could ya pick a more inane topic for a journal? You might have to try very hard but I'm sure you could manage it."
Well, shut up you snarky bastards. I'm going to write about swimming briefs and it's going to be interesting, dammit!
Some few years ago I came across an essay - a very in depth one - about the aversion to wearing brief-style swimsuits in the United States. I read a little of it and found it interesting but I never bothered to read all of it until tonight. Frankly, it's not a bad read, I'll link it down below. You could do worse when it comes to reading a total waste of time - you know, like reading my journals.
But it's been on my mind recently. For several reasons. Enough that I'm actually justified in listing them as bullet points.
- I like 'em... on those that look good in 'em especially. It's that simple. I'm NOT simple, however. I tend to not stick to one end of a spectrum. For instance, I have no preference between boxers and briefs. I like both. I'm a complicated individual, don't ask.
- A recent trip to a rec. center reminded me that they're still actually very common here at swimming centers. They're probably just as rare at our beaches than they are at the USA's. This is in spite of the fact that someone recently told me "no one wears them anymore." Untrue, many do. Even here.
- Because one of my stories has a young competitive swimmer in it, that's why I actually discovered this article in the first place. Research on competitive swimming.
The reasons why people might be apprehensive about wearing swim-briefs are usually pretty obvious. They're usually not reasons that apply to kids, and that's why you'll see boys wearing them without even seeming to be aware of it, but older males can be absolutely stupid about it. Even ones with absolutely fine figures can be so hilariously nervous about the idea that I literally find myself laughing about it.
I don't wear them personally, though I admit that's because I just don't think I look good in them. The article in question mentions using "getting to look good in a Speedo" as an incentive for fitness goals, and I confess that's one of my goals. I don't know if that's attainable, so I might just settle for "doesn't scare everyone out of the pool and in front of traffic."
But there seems to be a myriad of cultural and psychosexual reasons for this aversion to wearing revealing swimwear in many English-speaking nations. Many other nations have got ZERO problem with it, and this is why I'm talking about this article and why I saved it to begin with: because this is a fairly interesting cultural study, don't you think?
What's causing young males to be so terrified of these things? They were perfectly popular in years past, there's nothing actually wrong with them. A cultural invention has been created recently that turned the popular, fashionable and very useful (ever had to wash chlorine-drenched board shorts or even jammers?) swimming-brief into a fashion pariah. Hell, even if you're a straight male, who cares if a guy is wearing a Speedo? Why do we care? Even when they're not exactly models (when they are, I see even less of a reason to care outside of jealousy and intimidation), what's it to us and why do we judge people, and worry about being judged, for wearing a swim-suit worn internationally for years without any trouble, and that is still very popular today in most countries and many settings?
Well, here it seems to be a shallow adoption of America's apprehension about it. Australia is very good at taking the worst parts of American culture, but forgetting all about things like "libertarianism" and "free speech protected by a constitution." The article here actually attempts to analyze the issue in the United States more seriously than most, and I can understand a lot of his logic, although much of what he says is pretty much USA-specific.
For instance, the idea that only "gay guys" like to, or would want to, wear Speedos. That's alien to me, though I suppose it makes sense superficially: it exposes the body, so it would both attract attention if one was wearing it and allow for a good view if someone else was. But that doesn't strike me right, it never has. To be blunt about it, if you're worried about a gay/bi guy checking you out, a pair of board shorts will do just as nicely for them.
Anyway, the thing is, America has gay pride parades. We do too, but I haven't the foggiest where or when the last one was or who gave a shit. I feel Australia is quite homophobic, which is pretty poor considering we're not quite as hate-addled by twisted religion as our American friends. We have few gay pride parades and LGBT groups don't feel the need to be all that ostentatious here, partly because despite what I said before they really don't need to - given time, homophobia will be stamped out here, I'm sure of it, because I feel it's rooted in a sort of "passive ignorance."
In my experience, Australian gay men are almost impossible to discern from heterosexuals. I was going to discuss this later in a journal about effeminate characters in the furry fandom but here's just as good. It's damn near impossible. Why? Because gay males are the same. They just happen to have this little thing in their brain that's different and makes them attracted to other guys.
Sexuality and gender identity are not one and the same - it's not as simple as "derrrp, well, if men like women, and women like men, a man who likes a man must act like a woman!" which is seriously how some homophobes seem to think. One can be gay without having any interest in being effeminate. As I always say, somewhat facetiously: "this may be a shock, but gay guys happen to like guys."
Don't worry, I'm getting back to the point. So really, here, most of the homophobia that is so prevalent seems to be from the fact that we mostly wouldn't care if someone we knew turned out to be gay - they still act the same as everyone else, and you can quickly get over the whole "are they checking me out?" thing - but we never talk about them so we don't know that. Many Aussies probably don't realize they've met a "fag." So when they think about them, they're imagining the negative stereotypes we leeched from America.
Definitely not all American homosexuals act like walking stereotypes, and many of those who do won't do it all the time. But they've got these high-profile parades. So the problem is more or less the opposite of what it is here: American homophobia seems to be tied to the prevalent image of homosexuals as enforced somewhat poisonously by flamboyant parades and a minority of homosexuals that deliberately behave as stereotypically "queer" (read: alien, bizarre, disturbing) as possible all the time.
Aaaand they used to wear Speedos at those parades. While acting as stereotypically gay as possible. So one cultural reason the guy posits for the aversion to swim-briefs is that they've become linked with the worst of gay flamboyance and exhibitionism in an American culture that's also bogged down by a religious obsession with shame for ones body, sex, and sexuality. That's not going to go down too well.
That's not something we really have here. All of that is much more mild here, and that may explain why swimming-briefs are still reasonably popular here - we've not quite linked them to "queers" the way Americans have. However, there's definitely that cultural cross-over from the USA here. The same factors that make males in the USA (and females) ashamed or nervous about their body apply here. The same shitty "beauty" magazines that revel in a culture so ugly.
Another thing he mentions is women's "penis envy" and jealousy of competition being possible reasons why some of them hate on Speedos in public but adore them or regular briefs in private - i.e., with their partner, away from prying eyes. That one has always baffled me. I don't really believe women are envious of our wangs, guys, that's just absurd.
But to be fair, he also claims it's an American phenomenon and I don't know nearly enough American women to make any guesses about this. So, if any women do read this, and they're American, can you try to answer honestly: do you really get envious about these stupid things? They're annoying, they get in the way. Trust me, you've got enough problems with those things on your chest. These are our equivalent; it's like a man getting titty-envy, I'm pretty sure this shit doesn't exist on any continent.
I agree with him that gay pride parades may actually be counter-productive for the LGBT community in America - but I add the caveat that it's only a problem because it's deliberately made into the distorted icon of the LGBT culture. But as for the penis envy theory, I don't... what is this, I don't even...
Moving on, just that little thing about possibly associating Speedos with gay-pride parades. That little tid-bit, I found that interesting. If it's true. I suppose it's true that those interested in guys will obviously find swimming briefs appealing, but to think that it's the only reason to wear them is just weird.
At the end of the day, I believe it's coming down to the abject shame that English-speaking society tries to foist on its peoples regarding nudity and sex. This is coming from a guy who can quite comfortably walk into a strip-club and just not give a shit - nudity isn't a big deal to me, and nor should it be for anyone. It's an immature attitude to conflate nudity or exposed skin with sex or eroticism regardless of context. It CAN be erotic, but again who cares? If you freak out over someone finding you attractive and checking you out, by all means, put on a burqua, Habib, because you're going to get checked out. Grow up, get over it.
We really do place far too much emphasis on this crap. I'm no nudist, strictly speaking, but I am appalled and bewildered by people who object to mere short-cut skirts or a guy going shirtless on a hot day. Or wearing a Speedo. Who gives a damn?! It's one of those things that people insist disgusts or upsets them but, uh, it doesn't really guys. You're pretending, you're fitting in with your peers, you know you're secretly thinking "meh, whatever." It's like pretending to be grossed out by kissing when you're eight - you don't actually give a shit and would be perfectly happy to try it with that girl you're crushing on if it weren't for the dire risk of catching terminal cooties.
Interestingly, my friends expressed distaste over fucking jammers... until I dragged them for the first time in years to an actual pool. As I said in Tai's Story: you go to a pool and those changing rooms, you get over these things pretty quickly. You're prooobably going to see dicks, in fact. Get over it, or be the only idiot in the building freaking out over nothing. It's a dick, get over it. Don't be such a child.
That's right, bitches, not complaining about jammers after you saw that beached whale in those undersized briefs, are you? Gah-ahaha!
On a related note, LMFAO has got this shit down, man. I love this vid, it's got a great message. "Fuck you, I look great and I'm going to be comfortable in my own skin." Even the granny, overweight guy and sleazy porn star hop on that table to shake their stuff. I know it isn't popular in intellectual circles to admit liking LMFAO, but they're awesome and exactly the kind of uninhibited silliness this world needs more of. In speedos.
Also, it might be ironic to note that Australia seems to be very homophobic but it's so damn common to see attractive guys walking the streets in nothing but shorts and flip-flops on warm days. We're comparatively comfortable with out bodies, wearing revealing clothes as a matter of course, and yet "budgie-smugglers" give people bloody heart-attacks. That's just how superficial and illogical this "speedo fear" really is.