At the NFL’s Lucas Oil Stadium, sexism and gymnophobia intersect

by jovan1984

INDIANAPOLIS — Last week, after an NFL game, the Jacksonville Jaguars prevented Graham Watson of Yahoo Sports, Joey Chandler of the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News and an unidentified third woman journalist from gaining entry to the locker room.

Sounds like a simple case of sexist gatekeeping, right?

Not so fast.

Those quick to condemn the Jaguars for what they did seem to conveniently forget where this game took place.

It took place in one of the most gymnophobic states in the nation, Indiana.

Here is the relevant section of the Hoosier State law, under the “Indecent Acts” statutes:

IC 35-45-4-1 Indecency 

Sec. 1.

(a) A person who knowingly or intentionally, in a public place:

(1) engages in sexual intercourse;

(2) engages in deviate sexual conduct;

(3) appears in a state of nudity with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of the person or another person; or

(4) fondles the person’s genitals or the genitals of another person;

commits public indecency, a Class A misdemeanor.

(b) A person at least eighteen (18) years of age who knowingly or intentionally, in any place, appears in a state of nudity with the intent to be seen by a child less than sixteen (16) years of age commits public indecency, a Class A misdemeanor.

(c) However, the offense under subsection (a) or subsection (b) is a Class D felony if the person who commits the offense has a prior unrelated conviction:

(1) under subsection (a) or (b); or

(2) in another jurisdiction, including a military court, that is substantially equivalent to an offense described in subsection (a) or (b).

(d) As used in this section, “nudity” means the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic area, or buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering, the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple, or the showing of fully covered male genitals in a discernibly turgid state.

(e) A person who, in a place other than a public place: 

(1) engages in sexual intercourse; 

(2) engages in deviate sexual conduct; 

(3) fondles the person’s genitals or the genitals of another person; or 

(4) appears in a state of nudity;

commits indecent exposure, a Class C misdemeanor.

IC 35-45-4-1.5 Public nudity 

Sec. 1.5.

(a) As used in this section, “nudity” has the meaning set forth in section 1(d) of this chapter.

(b) A person who knowingly or intentionally appears in any place in a state of nudity commits public nudity, a Class C misdemeanor. 

(c) A person who knowingly or intentionally appears in a public place in a state of nudity with the intent to be seen by another person commits a Class B misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Class D felony if the person has a prior unrelated conviction under this subsection or under subsection (d).

(d) A person who knowingly or intentionally appears in a state of nudity:

(1) in or on school grounds;

(2) in a public park; or

(3) with the intent to arouse the sexual desires of the person or another person, in a department of natural resources owned or managed property; commits a Class A misdemeanor. However, the offense is a Class D felony if the person has a prior unrelated conviction under this subsection or under subsection (c).

Reading all of that, I’ll say this: the Jaguars’ organization may not know this, but by preventing access to the Lucas Oil locker room, the Jaguars were actually being proactive by keeping their entire team from being prosecuted for private indecency, public nudity and/or indecent exposure.

(NOTE: Private indecency has the same punishment as public indecency in Indiana.)

I feel for Ms. Watson and Ms. Chandler, however, people in the journalism industry should know the laws of each state (and municipality, for that matter) before they make a grievance about locker room access. And just because the NFL mandates that all journalists be allowed timely access to the locker rooms, that policy does not override state laws and local ordinances. State laws and local ordinances do trump sports sanctioning bodies’ policies, though.

The Association for Women in Sports Media should be doing a lot more than just issuing statements. This incident is precisely why the Association for Women in Sports Media needs to be on the front lines campaigning to repeal all laws currently banning public nudity.

They should be in the town halls and state legislatures demanding that all anti-nudity laws be repealed at once. As the NFL fans (I’m not among them) saw last week, anti-nudity laws negatively impact the jobs that women journalists do more harshly than the laws do for male journalists who are afforded (somewhat) easier access to the locker rooms of women athletes. No one knows what Ms. Watson, Ms. Chandler or the third woman journalist would have done besides report on the team they were assigned to, but in Indiana, if any of those three women saw the Jaguars players naked, those players would have been prosecuted for indecent acts. In a League that’s already filled to the brim with players with criminal histories, the last thing the NFL needs are a team full of players convicted of public indecency, private indecency or indecent exposure.

Also, the incident in Indianapolis brings two issues that intersect each other near daily: sexism and gymnophobia. Sexism, because women were blocked from entering a men’s locker rooms. Gymnophobia, because of the laws and ordinances that are used to prosecute and convict anyone simply for being naked, with these laws denying people of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. I’ve been saying that sexism and gymnophobia are intersectional feminist issues that we need to deal with ever since the breastfeeding issue was thrust right out in the open in the late 2000s. Our Constitution is being trashed by conservatives at every turn. Our constitutional right to be naked in public is a Feminist issue and a reproductive justice issue, and our civil rights to be naked in public is an issue that mainstream feminists need to be on the front lines fighting for!

Our right to be naked in public absolutely intersects with the right of journalists to have access to locker rooms of the opposite gender! As long as we are denied our basic freedom of being naked in public, the locker rooms issues that manifested last week will persist.

Time for women, journalists or not, to take to the streets and call for the complete abolition of all anti-nudity laws once and for all.

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