naked, and the signication of nakedness as something very, very private and

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

of signications belonging to ‘sexually naked’ contexts into sites of nonsexual
nudity, suggests an improving cultural knowledge of the instabilities of circumstance
and signication. While sex and sexuality have been discussed at such length in
the public world in recent decades when it comes to the ordinary and abnormal — constantly
within specific limitations, and advised nally by the ethnic injunction of the
hetero/homo binary and its variants and borders — they’ve become banal
and dull subjects, no longer websites for concern and ethnic hysteria or spec-
tacle. What replaces it as dramatic, subsequently, is not public nudity by any means, but
the battle over signication under the breakdown of context. This battle, as
I ‘ll go on to show, happens at the very private level, since nakedness per se has
been deemed a highly personal matter, but at its most significant it relates to the
ways where the performative matter acts and behaves in relation to the gaze,
and the issues that happen when the rites that constrain both the body and
the gazer become shaky.
Showing 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 disclosure of an ‘inner’ picture of the body devoid
of the signications of clothes and variously encoded otherwise in terms of
musculature, genitalia shapes and sizes, torsos and breasts, abilities, skin colour-
ing, suntan or sunlight exposure and so forth. As an outcome of the gaze and the variations on
the imaged body, this is a site of subject — the compulsion to create a body
that looks ‘in accord’ with unique codes and traditions and behaves in
Unique ways. And likewise it is the site of a disciplined gaze — a gaze that is
Supposedly 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 glimpse.
It’s no coincidence the framework of the communal shower works in
connection with disciplinary associations such as schools, health clubs, athletic facili-
ties — websites which, for (1977: 172–4), are those in which the microscopic
focus of examination cultivates not only the bodies on display and their attributes,
abilities and movements, but how the body in such a context is played out and
looked upon. Nakedness in the shower or locker room lets 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 clothing (wealth, status, group afliation, etc.). In this sense, then, the ‘sort’
of nakedness — non-sensual — and the ‘sort’ of gazing that happens is made in
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and through the circumstance of the showers by rite and tradition. The sensual here
is relegated to other frames, and a transgression of the circumstance results in penalize-
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 — men showering at his local gym. When his comments are
Wrongly understood to signify sexual gazing, he is attacked, appearing in bruised and sporting a black eye. The irony here is that in truly being a website
which greatly polices against sexuality and the lusty gaze, it becomes a highly
sexual website, necessitating additionally and more severe policing.

As notably, the website and its policing against sexuality is entwined in the
contemporary cultural binary system of sex. Apart from some very specic
and distinct formations, communal showers which encourage gazing at the nude
bodies of others are masculine- and feminine-exclusive. Culturally, such websites are
Exceptionally ‘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 male
college students, almost always for erotic purposes (of both the fratboys and of
the crowd). As a means of keeping the shower site non sexual, the separation
of genders operates entirely in the terms 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 gender-which-one-is-not (Butler,