13 March, 2023

Shower Sharks

For how long have there been jokes (or "jokes") about taking showers in prison? The most popular has to be "Don't drop the soap!" Locker rooms are just as often mentioned in this context. Communal showers are really to blame, but this isn't a post about that.

Newer prisons at least the ones in Missouri steer away from this particular flavor of institutional demoralization, favoring individual stalls over the shower rooms that invite such a slew of unpleasant circumstances. But even though there's no en-masse nudity in these places, a form of moderate predation on the naked endures. Its name is shower sharking.

Simply put, a shower shark is someone who watches others shower. This doesn't have to be an up-close violation. In fact, most shower sharks engage in the practice surreptitiously and from afar, catching glimpses here and there as they walk past someone in a shower stall, or positioning themselves so as to have a good side-eye view, often from all the way across the wing. Arguably the worst shower sharks are the shameless ones who set a chair on an upper tier that let's them stare down, unabashedly, at an angle revealing more of their prey than mere eye-level sharking would
but they're all creepy as hell. The stalls at Crossroads Correctional Center, where I spent sixteen years, have doors that conceal an average person's body from chest to knee. The curtains here at ERDCC, the prison that's housed me since 2018, are comparable. Showers at both facilities are positioned near the front of the wing, at the end of each row of cells, which puts FM adjacent to a lot of foot traffic. Certain passersby like to sneak occasional peeks. One guy, whose cell is uncomfortably close to the shower with the wing's best water pressure (see my 2021 post on choosing a showers in prison for more on this selection process), often makes eye contact as he steps in or out of his door. On one uncomfortable occasion he paused to peer downward as I stood there, shaving my head, with my back to curtain. I spied his reflection in my shaving mirror and shouted, "What are you looking at, creep?" He hasn't peeked in on me since, but others haven't been so fortunate. A quick shaming of our local voyeur would probably do them as much good as it did me.
I suspect that shower sharks aren't all predators in the conventional sense. I doubt they'd seek out naked men to ogle if none presented themselves. Their sharking seems to be a crime of opportunity. Give us full-length shower curtains and the problem of shower sharking, like our naked bodies, will disappear.

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