Locker room behavior

This phrase ‘locker room behavior’ is used to suggest that the rules of socially acceptable behavior are relaxed in the locker rooms used by the people who use such rooms. The phrase is sometimes invoked to try and excuse atrocious speech and behavior, most infamously by Donald Trump when during the 2016 campaign he was caught on tape boasting about his sexual assaults on women.

I have never been part of any organized sports program and so am not familiar with locker room culture at all. But recently I went to a tennis club to watch a match and before I left to go home I went to the men’s bathroom. The bathroom turned out to be part of a locker room and I was a little startled to find a couple of old guys about my age wandering around naked. It is not that nudity bothers me but I am just not used to people I do not know wandering around casually like that. When I later mentioned this to a young man who is familiar with locker rooms, he commented that he had noticed that it is older men who seem to do this.

I recalled his comments when I recently came across this Zits comic strip, which suggests that this may be quite widespread.


  1. Matt G says

    I’ve been in locker rooms many thousands of times over the years. I have seen some of the old guys doing this, but I have not once heard “locker room talk”. But then, I don’t hang out in the locker rooms of organizations which cater to sexual predators.

  2. says

    When I was a kid at a university gym I experienced that and asked my dad; his theory was that there were 2 generations of men were in the great wars, and that does a lot to break down self-consciousness and body-shaming. When I went through basic training, I came to agree. You don’t have time for a lot of that bullshit.

  3. Mano Singham says

    Owlmirror @#2,

    It is undoubtedly ageist but the Jeremy Duncan character who made that last comment makes ageist comments all the time so it is in character for him.

  4. says


    In rural Southeastern Ohio where I grew up, one of my high school girl friends called such behavior “garage talk.”


  5. Sam N says

    Sometimes stereotypes are accurate. I have never seen a 12 year old do that in a locker room. ~50 year old on the other hand… I have a very clear memory of not seeing my white towel where I Ieft it, only to see it used as butt floss for a very hirsute individual. I saw his towel and decided I’d rather just put my clothes on wet.

    By the way, I’ve recently had ‘locker room talk’. Like literally, talked with other guys in the locker room. We talked about where we went to college, what we were doing in life, movies we had seen recently. We were exceptionally reasonable and decent human beings. Being in a locker room is no reason to talk like a fucking bigot--it’s not even an excuse, just a clear demonstration of who you actually are.

  6. Sam N says

    By the way, I don’t wander around the locker room naked, but I do change my clothes, meaning I am briefly naked. There is absolutely no shame in that--It is what they are for! Forgetting which towel is yours than placing it between your butt cheeks, on the other hand… Not so polite.

  7. sonofrojblake says

    @Tabby, 9: You have to make allowances for Holms -- asking if a human is human is not, to him, immediately obviously dehumanising. Read the rest of his comments with that in mind and they’ll make more sense.

  8. Heidi Nemeth says

    I went to Oberlin College in the early 1970’s. I was surprised to find almost all of the women there then walked around the locker rooms naked. It was the time of the sexual revolution and Oberlin was ground zero. I still visit a locker room there yearly. Neither the Oberlin College students nor the older women there for the dance event are so immodest today.
    My daughter, Audrey, lives in Munich, Germany where the English Garden -- a park -- is known for its nude bathers in the summertime. Both Audrey and I have noticed it is mostly the older men who go around naked -- and almost no one else.

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