Rego: The empowerment of bathroom and locker room talk

Shay Rego

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

It’s a well-known stigma that many women go to the bathroom together, but there’s also a known stigma surrounding men’s locker rooms. Bathrooms, mostly known for women, and locker rooms, mostly known for men, are places where people feel they can go to speak openly to their peers and receive judgement-free advice.

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If you’re a woman who has gone into the bathroom of Yeti or Rec Room on a Friday night or you’re a Colorado State University athlete who’s overheard or even participated in conversations in the locker room, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

old town square
The Yeti and The Rec Room Nov 25. (Megan McGregor | The Collegian)

Of course, there are the obligatory answers as to what goes on in the women’s bathroom or men’s locker room: using the bathroom to empty one’s bladder, change clothes, etc. But there is more that goes on behind these closed doors than just the essentials.

Empowerment is happening.

Women utilize bathrooms to facilitate conversations they cannot have in the public eye. That ranges from going to the bathroom in a group with the ladies or having some random woman in the bathroom step into your existing conversation and kindly add her own two cents with the intention that her advice will be helpful regardless.

Typically, if a woman is very adamant that she wants her friend to accompany her to the bathroom, it’s most likely because she has something she needs to ask or say to her friend in private. So women going to the bathroom in groups is not only for general safety in numbers, but also to get the opinions of friends away from the view of judgmental eyes.

Both are sequestered areas of privacy and empowerment within our society, and that should never be forgotten.”

Such conversations between friends can lead to other women overhearing. When this happens, this is usually where the hype and empowerment really begin to shine. If a woman is doubting herself in any way — “Oh my God, these jeans make me look fat,” or “My new haircut is horrendous,” or “Wow, my partner walked out on our date early, so I must have a terrible personality” — other women in neighboring stalls are there to tell her otherwise.

This is especially true when we’re out at the clubs, drinking and feeling emotionally vulnerable. Some women have been put down their entire lives simply by existing within a patriarchal society, so one woman doesn’t even have to really know another person to feel it is their responsibility to talk up and empower their fellow women.

Men utilize locker rooms in a similar fashion. No, men aren’t swarming the locker room just to ask how their hair looks, but that doesn’t mean the locker room doesn’t emulate similar boundaries as the women’s bathroom — to hold conversations of private importance.

Each player has a custom locker with their name and number listed above. (Collegian file photo)

From my knowledge, men utilize the locker rooms in a similar fashion: to have private bro talk, ask for partner advice and hype each other up.

Some men use the locker room to continue normal conversations of the day, such as discussing their plans for later. Others may be having issues with their partner and might want to ask what they should do. Others use it to boost each other’s ego by complimenting a game play or reassuring their bro that their hair cut indeed looks sick.  

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Men poke fun at how women flock to the bathrooms together, just how women stereotype men who partake in locker room talk. Both are sequestered areas of privacy and empowerment within our society, and that should never be forgotten.

Shay Rego can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @shay_rego.