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June 09, 2006

Comments

Noumena

This is almost completely irrelevant, but your anecdote reminded me of one of mine.

A couple summers back I spent a lot of time riding my bike around Evanston, IL (home of Northwestern University and a respectable number of non-chain cafes that were perfect for studying). Out and about one day, a huge pickup roared past me and the passenger leaned out and shouted 'sidewalk!' I can only assume he thought bicycles ought to be on the sidewalks rather than the traffic lanes; which was funny, because in Evanston (and most other suburbs of Chicago), bicyclists are subject to fines in the $150 range for riding on the sidewalk.

Or maybe some people just like to shout out their windows to give strangers a hard time.

eve

You silly, they said that cause it's cold and dreary outside and there you were without a shirt.__Dah!! Wish I could work-out. Here I am stuck at my little dreary work office.

Jendi

Well, back when my husband and I were dating, folks on the sidewalk would often yell "Get a room!" when they saw us kissing in public. Which was ironic, since we were trying to be chaste before marriage and therefore had nowhere to kiss but the streets of Manhattan (not a place you'd expect to find delicate sensibilities, right?). I guess the lesson is, some folks begrudge the sight of people who are unselfconsciously enjoying themselves and their bodies. Keep baring your pale pecs, Hugo!

Christy

It's kind of funny, but I noticed very different things when I was in Europe. Though people are generally fully clothed while exercising, which is rare in and of itself in France, people would make out anywhere!! I'm not talking just a litte peck on a cheek, but really going at it! America thinks of itself as being so progressive, and yet a man can't go jogging without a shirt and two people can't show a display of affection in public without getting everyone's two cents!

juan

Jesus, I can't believe I made such an ass of myself! I'm the jerk that said that to you!

Hugo

Juan, you were well disguised as a 20-something brunette in a Kia.

SingOut

I don't know Juan. Couldn't he be a brunette?

Hugo

Ah, a 20-something brunette woman. My bad;I'm tired. Of course, there could be a rude, Kia-driving brunette woman in Pasadena named Juan...

juan

Geez, I was wearing the biker shorts and the polka-dot baseball cap. Don't you remember? I thought you would a noticed. But man, just give me a good kick in the butt next time. Cause I say some preety stupid things!

bmmg39

"And as I sit here typing this, Ecuador has just scored a goal against Poland, and my wife is outdoing Andres Cantor in her vocal reaction..."

Didn't he recently pass away?

Hugo

You're thinking of Norberto Longo, Cantor's partner. Cantor, who went to USC, is alive and well!

Douglas, Friend of Osho

Not just their bodies, Jendi. Nor is prudery limited to the US, Christy. Once, I rented a scooter in Lahore, Pakistan, intending to go on an outing with a young Australian woman I met at the lodge I was patronizing, all completely chaste. Within the space of an hour, the scooter was confiscated and a citation was in my hand. Why? You guessed it, we had no marriage papers and that wonderful self-described religion of peace apparently forbids social congress between unconnubial pairs of the opposite sex. For all that, I don't mind taste standards in public, if they're reasonable in scope, tone and situation. Ever see that episode of the Sopranos where Tony and Art Bucco are in a swank restaurant and silently menace some guy who refuses to take off his baseball cap. I applauded; if it had been my bistro, the guy wouldn't have been seated in the first place (he was also wearing a track suit). That said, a brusque command such as the one aimed at Hugo is out of line by US standards.

johann

Hugo said:
Just as I was reaching my car after the hard 13-miler, someone in a passing car yelled "Put a shirt on!" (I always run shirtless if the temperature is over 50, not out of a desire to display my paleness but out of a commitment to comfort). The words stung. I don't know if the yeller was critiquing my body, suggesting that it was the sort that shouldn't be out shirtless, or if they were generally opposed to folks exercising bare-chested. Either way, I was surprised at how much it hurt! And it reminded me again of how much worse this sort of thing is for women.
-----
You did not mention, who said that to you, a man or a women?
If you prefer to show up shirtless in the USA, you should better do so on private property only.

Equality is point - women are not supposed to exercise shirtless in public, and therefore men are also not expected to do it.

USA has some ridiculous moral values and is considered the sex-prison and the feminist heaven in this world by most people, who are not Americans and who are living outside of the USA.

Men or women does not matter in this case.
You - as a man, even as a male feminist - cannot exercise shirtless, because women are also not doing it.

Geo

Knowing little of the "incident" - I wonder - Would it be ok - for you to be shirtless if you were: 1.) 80 years old, 2.) Appearing to be 5' 10" and 280-350 pounds, yet alone the issue if you were a woman.

Some years ago in Berkeley - besides the Naked Man (or whatever he was called - who recently unfortunately apparently commmitted suicide - and definitely died), there were The Explicit Players - who for a time walked individually Nude in Berkeley as well as having pubic events together.

I remember seeing a most attractive 30-40 year old woman walking proudly and defiantly (in a sense) who was totally nude. Obviously men, including myself, looked at her "with lust".

On the otherhand, she looked so assertive without saying a word, it's doubtful that any man would have dared to harass her in any way.

Tis a pity that we can't accept nudity and partial nudity as a normal part of our being! Thanks!

Helen

Frankly, I'm offended by men running shirtless, although it does depend on the situation (it really pisses me off in town but if I were out in the country or mountains I might not be as bothered, I don't know). It's just a smack in the face that I have to be so careful about what I wear and I'll still get hassled, whereas there's some guy running around half naked and confronting me with his naked chest. Of course, I'm not forced to look at him, but a mostly-naked person out of place (in a sea of clothes, sometimes) is likely to attract your attention before you look away.

Anyway, as a gym-goer myself I can see the appeal to not sweating through a shirt, but the double standard pisses me off. I'm fine with nakedness at the beach or other places where it's socially the norm, but I'm really not keen on it in a situation where women can't reciprocate.

I am curious as to how the expression "your rights end where mine begin" fits into this. I think you could argue that a man's shirtlessness does actually infringe on other people's rights and thus it's not entirely unexpected that some people will respond negatively. I just try and ignore it when I see it and I'm not defending the person in the car who should have kept his comments to herself, but I thought I'd share my opinion on why that might have bothered her (especially since it was a woman).

Helen

Uh, make that HER comments to herself.

Heo Cwaeth

Johann, Bavaria or Austria?

Hugo,
Of course random unsolicited comments about your person are hurtful and have a tendency to make you paranoid. That's the point of making such comments, actually. At least it's the point that the frat idiots who live down the block from me have in mind when they assemble after dark to "assess" women passing on the street.

The Countess

Hugo, maybe one reason you were upset was because you were enjoying yourself, lost in your own world, and some rude stranger driving by invaded your personal space. That's what it feels like to me when someone harasses me like that on the street, although it happens to me rarely because I live in a small town.

The town I live in is a Massachusetts beach resort. There are lots of joggers and bike riders year round, especially in the summer. I like to walk on the cliffs and beaches near my home. Sometimes people (especially men) will watch me, but I rarely feel as if my personal space is being invaded. I guess using an iPod helps. I can't hear a damned thing, except for my music. I went hiking once in an abandoned colonial settlement near my home, and ran across a bunch of mountain bike riders. Everyone was very nice. We chatted for a few minutes, and went our separate ways. Hugo, while a heckler can make you feel badly, maybe think of all the pleasant people you've encountered when running. That won't lessen what the heckler had done, but it might help to remember the nice people.

I was also interested in how you cheered up doing Pilates. A friend of mine cheers up by doing Judo. He also teaches it. There seems to be something about physical activity that can help people cheer up. It's works for me when I go walking.

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