Nude, and the signication of nakedness as something very, very personal and

private (with private parts); consequently the strictures of contexts which code and
constrain the ways in which nude is performed under the gaze of others. The
blurring between the boundaries of sexuality and nakedness, the encroachment

of signications belonging to ‘sexually naked’ contexts into sites of non sexual
nudity, signals an improving cultural consciousness of the instabilities of context
and signication. While sex and sexuality have been discussed at such length in
the public world in recent decades with regard to the normal and abnormal — always
within particular limitations, and educated nally by the cultural injunction of the
hetero/homo binary and its forms and boundaries — they have become banal

and dull subjects, no longer websites for matter and cultural craze or spec-
tacle. What replaces it as striking, subsequently, is not public nudity by any means, but
the battle over signication under the dysfunction of circumstance. This challenge, as
I will go on to show, happens at the very personal level, since nakedness per se has
been deemed a very personal thing, but at its most important it relates to the
ways in which the performative issue acts and behaves in relation to the gaze,
and the problems that happen when the rites that constrain both the body and
the gazer become unstable.
Revealing and Showering — The Encroachment of the Sexual
The site of the communal or public shower might be decreasing in use, but it’s
been a significant space for the expression of nudity coupled with various
practices of the gaze. Nakedness in this site is a practice of the Foucauldian
confessional — by virtue of the revelation of an ‘internal’ picture of the body barren of
of the signications of clothes and variously encoded otherwise in terms of
musculature, genitalia shapes and sizes, torsos and breasts, skills, skin colour-
ing, tan or sun exposure and so forth. As a result of the gaze and the forms on
the imaged body, this is a site of subject — the compulsion to create a body
that looks ‘in accord’ with special codes and conventions and acts in
particular manners. And likewise it’s the site of a disciplined gaze — a gaze that’s
allegedly without interest in the sexual, a gaze that’s performed as a glance, or
an affronting lack-of-interest, a peek or a non-prying glance.
It is no coincidence the frame of the communal shower works in
Link with disciplinary associations such as schools, gymnasiums, athletic facili-
ties — websites which, for Foucault (1977: 172–4), are those in which the microscopic
focus of inspection cultivates not only the bodies on display and their characteristics,
Skills and movements, but how the body in such a circumstance is played out and
looked upon. Nakedness in the shower or locker-room permits an extremity of
policing of the body: its musculature, its masculine or feminine pubescent
development, its properties and peculiarities, all without the various signications
of garments (riches, status, group afliation, etc.). In this sense, then, the ‘type’
of nakedness — non-sensual — and the ‘type’ of gazing that occurs is created in
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and through the circumstance of the showers by rite and custom. The sensual here
is relegated to other frames, and a transgression of the circumstance results in punish-
ment. In an episode titled ‘The Apology’ (1997) of the popular sitcom Seinfeld,
Kramer tries to learn techniques to reduce his time showering by analyzing
— and taking notes on — guys showering at his local gym. When his comments are
Wrongly understood to signify sexual gazing, he is attacked, appearing in a
later scene bruised and sporting . The irony here is that in truly being a site
which greatly polices against sexuality and the erotic gaze, it becomes a highly
sexual site, necessitating additionally and more harsh policing.
As significantly, the website and its policing against sexuality is entwined in the
contemporary ethnic binary system of sex. Apart from some very specic
and special formations, communal showers which support gazing at the naked
bodies of others are masculine- and feminine-exclusive. Culturally, are
Tremendously ‘guarded’ from a transgressive invasion by sexes which have no legiti-
macy in that space. Dozens of ‘teen sex’ lms, for example Revenge of the Nerds
(1984), depict a carnivalesque transgression of the women’s showers by man
college students, nearly constantly for sexual purposes (of both the fratboys and of
the crowd). As a means of keeping the shower website non-sexual, the separation
of sexes works entirely in the provisions of Butler’s ‘heterosexual matrix’ in which
the compulsory, illusional arrangement of sex/gender/want codes sexuality as the
natural desirous interest only ever to the sex-which-one-is-not (Butler,