by Anura Guruge
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On Monday of this week we were staying at the “Wonder View Inn” in Bar Harbor, Maine; our room was right above the outdoor pool. While brushing my teeth I could hear, what sounded like a family, with a dog, frolicking about in the pool area — though the bathroom blind was pulled down. Then I hear Teischan (9) exclaim from the bedroom “there is a man swimming in his underwear”. I didn’t have to look. I knew exactly what she was commenting about. The man must have been wearing a ‘speedo’. That a man wearing a speedo would elicit a comment from MY daughter perturbed me — slightly. It is true she had never seen me at a pool or on a beach in a ‘speedo’ — though as an European ‘speedos’ were my de rigueur bathing suit UNTIL the Summer of 1987 — 28 years ago.
So what is the deal here?
Thinking about it made me realize that the issue is no different to the “Free the Female Nipple” conundrum. I did a quick Google. Appears that when it comes to laws you are in the same court as that for female toplessnes. Most places do NOT have any laws specifically banning speedos — in much the same way that at least 48 of the States do not have any explicit laws about female toplessness. Yes, you can find a few reports that men have been cited for wearing speedos — usually under the all encompassing ‘disturbing the peace’ law.
Indecency laws only require the genitals to be covered and a speedo does that.
Furthermore, as was the case in Bar Harbor, foreigners wearing speedos, as far as I know, are never told off or cited. And from 1985 to 1987 I wore speedos in the U.S., albeit mainly around hotel swimming pools or beaches in Tampa and Oahu, without ever having anybody say anything about it.
Then we have swim/dive teams and competitions. All the men, including those from the U.S., wear speedos. So IF there is a swim meet taking place in a U.S. pool the men will wear speedos but speedos are not deemed acceptable for recreation. What gives?
And now the supreme irony. Women can wear the skimpiest bikinis and that is acceptable while men can’t wear speedos.
Why the double standard?
In Europe female toplnessness and men in speedos (quite literally) go hand-in-hand.
Yes, it does have to do with a stubborn streak of puritanicalness that still permeates U.S. society. It is all about decency and modesty. I understand and as I said this is an issue that I confronted, personally, 28 years ago.
It must have been May or July 1987. I, newly married, went to a family cookout in Massachusetts. They had a pool and I wore a speedo — since that was all I had. My (then) wife didn’t say anything and she had seen me in speedos. Nobody said anything to me about my speedo all day. They used to kind of like me those days. I wore the speedo, with nothing else, as was my then wont, most of the day. I was ultrafit those days — fasting 3 times a week, running 7.5 miles most days and doing 100 sit-ups and 100 push-up a day. So I didn’t have anything really to hide or cover up. But on the way home I was informed that wearing speedos was not the ‘American way’ and that I needed to get some ‘proper’ U.S. swim trunks. I never gave it much thought — 28 years ago. But now it has got me thinking. Ironically I am the same weight now as I was 28 years ago. But I am now 62 and though I still run my total exercise regime is 1/8 of what it used to be.
As with female toplessness I believe that there should be certain, self-imposed standards, as to whether one should wear a speedo or not. I think the 25 BMI mark should be a good demarcation point. I still make the 25 BMI but I am not sure whether I should subject innocent folks to even more of my body than they are now subjected to given that I am, during the Summer, habitually topless — and, at a minimum, do my 40 – 45 minute run, 6 days a week, topless.
But something for all U.S. men to think about.
What is the deal with wearing speedos? In the same way that we want to free the female nipple we should also strive to free the male speedo. They really do go hand-in-hand.