I want you to imagine the following scenario:
You prefer to take showers directly after jiu jitsu class because [insert reason of your choice]. There is only one changing room and it has the shower in it. Now, this is a totally communal room where everyone shares and several people change and shower all at the same time. Unfortunately, due to [insert reason of your choice], you need this room all to yourself in order to shower and change.
You know that while you’re showering and changing that everyone is waiting on you. You don’t want to inconvenience everyone, and yet you also don’t want to be totally inconvenienced. The pressure is on. There are a few choices. You could a) not change/shower and go home totally disgusting and gross. b) Make a mad dash in directly after class and hope that no one else will have to wait on you. c) Wait until every person has finished. d) Wait for there to be a natural break in the ebb and flow of people. e) Physically prevent people from entering because dammit, it’s your turn.
Let’s examine these choices. a) not showering – well, like I said, you really do want to shower. b) First in, which sort of sucks, though, because it means that you often don’t get to drill as much as you’d like, or hang out as much with teammates as you like. c) Last in, which also sucks because who always wants to stay until closing time JUST because you don’t want to inconvenience everyone else. d) Wait for the room to be empty. This is somewhat of a craps shot, because it means that when you leave is completely dictated on when the room happens to be empty. It also may not happen for a long time, especially if guys are trickling in and out. You could end up waiting a very long time. e) Make everyone else wait. Definitely the most aggressive option and can cause frustration to teammates.
If you are a guy training at a school with only one communal changing room, you may not have realized that these are the choices that your female teammates must make daily. To be honest, it can create a bit of stress – it still does to me on some level, even after 3 years of training. My solution to the before-class changing is to wear shorts under my pants and to wear my rash guard under my shirt and get changed in public. When I do eventually get into the changing room to take a shower, there’s pressure to finish EXTREMELY quickly because I don’t want to bother people or make everyone wait…even though I wait every single day.
I usually do one of 3 things: 1) mad dash to be first 2) wait for a break 3) physically prevent people from going in. “Sorry, dude, I’m next. Oh, you just need your phone, okay, but make it quick.” Most often it’s the mad dash or simply waiting.
Yesterday I went to the Caio Terra seminar with 45 attendees. Of the 45, there were only 2 women, including me. Afterward, I did the aggressive move of preventing people from entering. The other gal didn’t take a shower because she didn’t want everyone to wait. I took one because eff it all – I’m gross and want to take a shower. People knocked several times, despite others saying there were women in there. One guy joked and said I should have patience. I jokingly flew off the handle and said “I freaking wait every single day! I HAVE patience!!!!!” (sorry, Peter!) Thankfully there were two kind men out there who tried telling others to wait. Thanks, Heri and Brandon!
Jiu Jiu’s PSA: If there’s one changing room at your gym and the women are few and far between, please have empathy and recognize that the changing room situation CAN cause some stress. This also applies to anyone else who prefers changing alone – whether due to religion, modesty, because they are transgendered or any other number of reasons. Please don’t give them crap about inconveniencing you or making you wait. I’ve been there long enough that I am comfortable being a bit aggressive, but I still feel so much pressure to go quickly, and I always end up doing my hair and makeup outside the locker room and don’t even pack my bag in the back – just so I’m not inconveniencing everyone longer than necessary. The gyms I’ve visited that have a women’s changing room – HOLY COW they feel luxurious. No stress changing, I can go slow and actually finish getting ready without feeling rushed.
The easy response is: “omg you’re such a whiner!” or “not my issue” or “suck it up!” And I really do just deal with it. Male privilege means that this likely doesn’t affect men and they can ignore it if they want to. In a super basic way, “Privilege is when you think that something’s not a problem because it’s not a problem for you personally.” Why I bring this up: isn’t it wonderful when someone can empathize with an issue you face every time you go to class? If you’re a gym owner and are on the fence about having a separate area for women – I hope you will consider doing it, even if it’s much smaller than the men’s space.
I’m curious as to what the changing room situation at your gym is. If you have only one communal changing room and you’re a female, which options do you generally choose? Is this something you’ve stressed about either now or in the past? Please tell me I’m not the only one!