PHOTO: (click photo to enlarge) a standard "Bike" branded athletic supporter with a cup shown to the right of an uncensored "Baby Blues" comic strip by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott as printed in the Sunday Oregonian newspaper, Oct. 5, 2014 (See facebook.com Baby Blues Comic Strip (Official) October 5 at 6:00am) and also the babyblues.com website. The father in the strip tells his son at a sporting goods store, "While we're here, we're also going to get you something else -- A cup." To which the son asks, "A cup of what?" After the father pauses and replies, "Just trust me. It's very important." The clueless son then suggests, "In that case maybe we should get a quart."
I was surprised a nut cup joke would appear on a Sunday Comics page read by many children who are now probably asking their parents to explain the joke, although, the strip did skillfully make fun of parent's uneasiness with answering this question.
The reason I am surprised is because of the homophobia and prudishness that most parents experience in dealing with matters that might have a sexual component with their children.
I recall first learning about the idea of a jockstrap, or "athletic supporter" as they were called by the prudish gym coach and school officials who demanded I wear one for gym class underneath my official school's logo-imprinted gym shorts and t-shirt. My parents remained silent on the subject, although I had caught my dad once putting on a jock before he went to an athletic event and I overheard him muttering to my mother about washing his "supporter" next time.
I understand today that very few children are still being required to undress in front of other children and to wear special gym clothes, supposedly because most school districts can't afford it and so they make parents buy their sons standard briefs and shorts for playground activities. However, I suspect this sociological change has more to do with the fact that people are now aware that some gay boys might be turned on by the sight of their son, which they find disgusting due to their homophobia. In fact, new male locker rooms are commonly being designed and built for more privacy, unlike the gang showers of the middle and early 20th Century.
Ironically, my gym classes required boys to undress and be naked in front of each other for gang showers and also fully naked for the entire one-hour long swimming lessons, even though I grew up in a prudish era that censored anything gay and the U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy was demanding FBI investigations into gays and Communists!
In that era, nobody recognized the existence of homosexuals and it was taught that boys should never be seen naked in front of girls, but it was a badge of manhood to be naked amongst your male comrades in gym and in the military barracks, while at war -- this ethic was even demonstrated by the ancient Greek paintings we were shown in class (perhaps I can show some of these in a future post).
Needless to say, perhaps I was more terrified than many other boys were by being required to undress in front of 40 other boys, but my fears were confirmed the first day of my 7th Grade gym class when another boy became erect and he was ruthlessly bullied by the other boys, while the homophobic gym coach intentionally ignored this bullying and tacitly allowed it by walking back to his office, which he apparently did to teach us boys that only queers would get excited by other boys and queers are so disgusting they should be terrorized and killed.
As I became older and more mature, I learned that many other men, both heterosexual and homosexual, had shared my fear of getting an erection while in front of other naked boys and their fear made it difficult for them to enjoy participating in sports or the military. I also learned that many gay men acquired a sexual fetish for jock straps and nut cups because it epitomized the masculinity of their friends who had turned them on sexually. Historically, jocks and jock straps have been at the center of a common genre of gay porn and fantasy books used for masturbation.