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The Cave of Shame

Photo credit: Genessa Gutzait

The Sentry bathroom is a cave of lost virtues. Despite being on the second floor, it’s the kind of  underground cavity that medieval knights had to venture through to test their character.

My character was tested when I opened the door to an older man peering through the crack in the stall. When he saw me, he whipped around and quickly dashed into the handicap stall nextdoor. That’s right, we’ve got a new pervert in the bathroom. At least this one feels some semblance of shame and remorse.

The man who was letting him stare was less ashamed. I turned around to him staring me down at the urinal. I glared back at both of them and they left.

We live in a culture these days where shame has been made both the scourge of our modern society and a daily norm. It makes me wonder what use our society has for shame. It certainly has its place but exactly what that place is, is still unclear. I hope the men in the bathroom were ashamed enough to leave our workplace alone. I hope they feel guilty.

I keep asking myself what good it would do to send campus police after them. What good are these exposé columns doing? I keep wondering why I didn’t say anything. I looked at the man in the mirror but said nothing. I hate confrontation. I’d much prefer security to deal with issues. I worry: what if I have to fight them? I can’t fight.

If they’re gone, will three more pop up in their place? Even if the bathroom is cleared of perverts, they leave behind a lasting legacy. Each time I delve into that medieval pit, I dread coming face to face with the nine-headed hydra. Each time I feel a little less safe. Each time some new monster lurks.

With the new season of Game of Thrones arriving soon, I’m reminded of George R.R. Martin’s critique of Tolkien. Does evil come from within or without? My guess is that the internal evil within us all is relased, like a virus, into the external world. Each evil act breathes life into that lurking demon that manifests itself as a car burglary or a Twitter mob or a stain in the bathroom stall.

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