It is with much regret and sadness that I note the time-honoured and magnificent institution of communal women’s toilets is under serious threat. In this gender-neutral age, women’s toilets are being gender-neutralised away. Such a shame. Whilst I can understand that having gender neutral toilets as well is important for non-conforming children and adults, I am dismayed to see that communal toilets for women are gradually being dismantled altogether in favour of gender-neutralisation all round. I’m thinking of having a funeral to say good-bye to the greatest institution of all time. I invite all you who also mourn this sad demise to the wake afterwards.
Women’s communal toilets are more than just a place to pee. They were, and are, our liberation and safety. They enabled us to have public lives, as well as being a place it was safe to be vulnerable. If we had a mess with our period, we could always rely on another women to help us clean up. If we got caught short with our period, we could always rely on another woman to help us out with a tampon. We didn’t even need to know these women. Women would just help women if they knew a woman in a women’s toilet needed help with anything.
They were also a place to have a conflab, to take a buddy away from the public gaze who was upset, a serendipitous meeting place, and a sanctuary to run to when the boys were chasing us. Okay, so that last bit was a primary school thing. But I also remember the women’s toilets in a bar being a place you get away from a pest’s unwanted attention. It created a camaraderie, a place where women would look out for each other. I don’t know of any other institution that combined need and social bonding in such a way. Women’s toilets are so much more than just a functional place to pee.
Now it’s all being gender-neutralised away, and uni-sexed up. What a loss! Not to mention a step backwards for women. There are now organisations, such as community centres with swimming pools and gyms, which have uni-sex changing rooms so that everyone feels “included”. Perverts and paedophiles love them. Of course, there are rules against bad behaviour, which is supposedly enough of a deterrent. Yeah, right. The trend of uni-sexing facilities is despicably dismissive towards women and girls’ safety. A twelve year old girl has to get leered at and felt up by a pervert, before he gets removed from her space. How safe is that? And how safe will that girl ever feel again, and be able to go about her public life? How could anyone with even half a gram of common sense not see this coming, or think it’s okay? And don’t get me started on about those boys and men (yes, once again it’s mostly males) who secretly film women and girls with their mobile phones in changing rooms.
I can’t imagine how awful it must be for teenage girls at school to have to share toilet facilities with boys, or even share the common entry area to individual fully self-contained toilet cubicles. Boys love shaming girls – period-shaming being one of the ways (I know that girls shame girls, too, which often copies the ‘boy way’ of shaming). Imagine a girl needing help with the unexpected arrival of her period. What’s she going to do? Open her cubicle door and shout out to anyone in the common entry area for a tampon? No longer is there a safe place for girls in schools which they know is theirs only, where they can safely do ‘girl-life’ things.
Women’s bodies are complex. More complex than men’s bodies. We didn’t put our hands up for this, it’s just what we got dealt. Women’s bodies house the main machinery of the human reproductive system. They’re designed to grow and produce new humans, should we want to, and something that impressive naturally requires a bit more than the simple knocking together of a few parts. The workings of that reproductive machinery are never far from our thoughts, until we get liberated from it with age.
Men, on the other hand, only have to produce and store some jizz in their ballsacks until they eject it. That’s their sole contribution to the reproductive process. It doesn’t require a huge amount of complexity, and even less thought. Once the new human is produced, though, and life changes dramatically, they may possibly wish they’d thought a bit more about keeping that jizz in their ballsacks – or at least away from a woman’s reproductive machinery. However, that’s by-the-by.
We women, with our more complex and more sophisticated reproductive machinery, which influences our whole lives, benefit from a collaborative network of ‘experts’ who also live with that machinery – i.e. women. Female-only communal facilities suit women and girls, because that’s what works for us and our bodies and our lives. Now, I know that most of us don’t want to live joined at the hip with each other, but seriously, although fully self-contained gender neutral toilets have their place, they are also pretty much isolation chambers.
Plus, we hate using the same toilets as men with their pee on the seat and the floor. Bad enough having that at home, without living with it in public, too.
Header pic by Free to Use Sounds
12 thoughts on “The sad demise of the magnificent institution of communal Women’s Toilets.”
Love it, summed up nicely. I for one do not like sharing the toilet space with men.
I also know men who feel uncomfortable with it as well.
When all the darlings who have had their minority say feel comfortable. Can we let women have their say?
Women, real women, are being told they don’t exist and if they do, they don’t matter.
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That summed things up nicely, as well. I, too, have heard directly from a man about that discomfort.
Are they really being phased out? We still have them here and I agree with what you say.
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We still have single-sex toilets here, too, but the hue and cry over ‘inclusion’ is putting them at risk. Newer buildings have gone for the individual fully self-contained toilet cubicles as the safest answer for everyone. Older buildings with established single-sex toilet facilities are finding it more cost-effective to just combine the two into uni-sex facilities, although so far I have only read of that happening in the UK and USA schools and community centres. If you want to read one woman’s account of what happened to her twelve year-old daughter, here’s a link. It starts at paragraph 7, if you want to cut straight to that bit. Hope you can open the link, otherwise go to Wild Woman Writing Club (a WordPress blogsite), and scroll down to The Chilling Effect.
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I am genuinely torn on this issue. I read this and immediately agreed with it. It’s insane, I thought, to force all types of people to use the same facilities on the grounds of “inclusion”. But then I started to have doubts. If we compare this latest cultural change to a similar movement about racial inequality, where separate toilets, etc., were obviously discriminatory, we must consider why is it not discriminatory to have separate male and female toilets or changing rooms? Are we simply resisting what ought to be the just situation – people’s toilets for people? The gender fluidity debate has muddied the waters, and the question would still exist if there were no non-binary people at all.
I think the arguments will rage on, and getting to the latter (non-segregationist) position will be hard work. It may even be a bit utopian, but that doesn’t mean it’s the wrong position. Were there no black people who resisted having their own spaces when racial segregation was ending, where they could relate freely with each other without fear of being intimidated, ridiculed or beaten up by white folks? And were there no white people, and not just racist ones, who “felt uncomfortable” having to use the new non-segregated washrooms?
What drives the need for separate toilets and changing rooms is mainly the fact that women feel – and unfortunately are – at risk of abuse by men. That could equally be an argument for sex-segregated streets, workplaces, trains and buses. Indeed, a constant argument for racial segregation was that it avoided violence. Isn’t sex-segregation just a sticking-plaster over the deeper problem, the all too prevalent violence and intimidation of women by men? In the incident with the twelve-year-old girl, what shocked me most was that the action taken, removing the offender, was thought to be adequate, after a serious sexual assault.
It’s possible that sex-segregation on these grounds of the danger of men also tends to reinforce the problem: men are not required to act responsibly, by not offering them the opportunity to be responsible, and since they’re assumed to be irresponsible they’re not even given correction (if that story or the whole me-to movement are anything to go by); meanwhile all the responsible, caring men are tarred with the discriminatory gender stereotype, further alienated from women and children (men can’t be trusted with children, obviously).
It is difficult, because males and females are so different physically (a strong example given here is menstruation and women’s ability to help each other in a public toilet). It’s a strong argument, I suppose, but again below this is simply a biological fact that we don’t face, and which has been hidden by millennia of taboo. In a utopian toilet, boys might not have a tampon to offer, but they’d be sympathetic. In a utopian communal shower room, a pubescent boy’s uncontrollable stiffy wouldn’t attract ridicule. Utopian education systems would have us all understand each other a lot better and treat each other a lot better, differently, but fairly. Alas, we are messed up, and utopia takes lots of baby steps.
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You raise some thought-provoking points about racial de-segregation. I must admit that I hadn’t heard that argument before about racial segregation avoiding violence.
Yes, the main driver behind sex-segregated facilities is men’s violence towards women and children. We know that the big majority of men don’t commit this sort of violence, but of course we can’t tell at a glance who they are, so all men need to be excluded from female-only spaces. Men’s violence doesn’t really get addressed in society, we just do things to work around it. Delving into the reasons for that would be a whole new blog! 🙂 We also know that a man’s patterns of behaviour change very little, even when he starts identifying as a woman. If he’s aggressive and predatory beforehand, he will be the same afterwards, although hormones may diminish it a little. Transsexuals are different again, and generally don’t present a threat at all.
My solution to the subject of retaining single-sex toilets and changing rooms, is to also have fully self-contained gender neutral facilities for non-conforming women, men, children, and those who simply may not be comfortable for any reason sharing facilities, even with members of their own sex. For example, those who have had surgery of some sort, and don’t want to be looked at. I didn’t relay this very well in my blog, though. Providing intimate facilities that we’re all comfortable in has to become the new normal, because it’s important in enabling us all to have public lives. However, it’s a cost that most organisations don’t want to bear, so the least costly solution for them is to uni-sex everything in order to meet the ‘inclusion’ criteria. The fact that it’s not a good solution for women and girls gets disregarded, in favour of being cheap.
There was resistance to building women-only toilets once, partly due to the extra cost, and it may just be time again now to suck it up and realise that toilets, and other intimate facilities, get made in threes, not twos anymore.
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Thank you for clarity on this topic, Katrina. I quite agree with each argument, as would my wife, daughter, and granddaughter. Men’s rooms in this country (US) automatically take on a vow of silence with strangers, it’s a totally different can of worms. When standing at a urinal you are not to break an imaginary perpendicular line to the wall at the urinal. Eyes straight forward always. Talking between stalls among strangers is also an unwritten rule. At least, this is how I have observed the matter for quite a few decades now. Being in a nun-enforced Catholic school in the 1950s was another can of worms. My particular nemesis, Sister Richard, would rather you pee on your desk chair than permit an unauthorized restroom visit.
The Jim Crow laws were intended to separate by race at any cost. The violence aspect was always one-sidedly reported in newspapers that I read in those 1950s as something in the marrow of “The Negro.” White Supremacists were the unofficial enforcers — and lynchers — of the time. Trump would return to fully legislated Jim Crow without resistance. He also famously visited the women’s locker room when he commanded the Miss America pageants. I am hoping that the foiled abduction of Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and every other infraction of decency will bring enough of a landslide to make what he calls a “continuation of office” to occur in the dead of the night. One of the code names used by the militia in Michigan was “snatch and grab” — very reminiscent of Trump’s favorite dog whistles.
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I had to laugh at your description of being at the men’s urinal! I would guess that it’s a similar thing here in NZ, too 🙂 Yes, toilets mean very different things for women and men, and I think that is getting ignored in this rush to uni-sex and gender neutralise them all.
I had to look up what Jim Crow meant. I had heard the expression before, but hadn’t really understood it completely before now. Trump makes me shudder, as he does many others, I expect. I don’t think I have ever been so invested in American politics as I am in this coming election, even though I know that US politics reaches us all at all times.
Did Trump have a hand in the foiled abduction of Gretchen Whitmer? Also, not quite sure what you mean by “will bring enough of a landslide to make what he calls a “continuation of office” to occur in the dead of the night”.
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Trump uses coded phrases to speak directly to his base, so-called “dog whistles.” His Tweets are hot-button topics that become marching orders for stochastic-terrorists white-supremacist racists who are so enamored of him. Democratic governors, particularly the strong women among them. The First and Second Amendments merge into the crazy crap that incites them. Trump threatened to cut off federal funds to Michigan because Whitmer did not “like” him, his image is everything to Donald and his true believers. He sent out Tweets in all caps to LIBERATE MICHIGAN! and the random terrorists follow suit by walking into the State capital heavily armed. His image is more important to him than absolutely anything else.
To lose by a landslide means overwhelming and unassailable voting margins by Democrats. Trump’s word piles contain language indicating that he has no intention of leaving the White House, no matter what happens on November 3rd. He states that there will not be a “transfer of power”, but rather a “continuation”, presumably of his presidency. He has called upon his loyal followers to show up at polling stations and to question every possible vote not cast for him. The “dead of the night” refers to the hours after each polling station closes. Polling stations have been decimated in Democratic Party leaning States, the Postmaster General of the US Postal Service (appointed by Trump) has destroyed sorting machines by the hundreds. And there may actually be more votes cast by mail-in ballots than on election day itself. Fortunately, this stuff is finally being noticed and Trump’s approval rating is plummeting.
Interesting times indeed. 🙂
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Omg – he’s out of control! I know that there are always shenanigans and corruption in politics, but this is beyond what any US president has ever done, surely? I read briefly in a magazine article that for Trump power is an end in itself. You’ve made me curious enough to go and read that whole article now 😊
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Oh yes indeedy. Not only is he a narcissist by parental training (and possibly genes), there’s also a big dollop of crazy in there from the Law of Attraction, the Power of Positive Thinking, magical thinking, where you manifest your own destiny by thinking it so. Psychopaths tend to be attracted to this idea, and it does work for them (just not others), for some time, until it all unwinds. I was first allerted to Trump’s use of the Law of Attraction by Yakaru’s blog – https://spiritualityisnoexcuse.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/donald-trump-and-the-law-of-attraction/ – and that connection is all over the net now. It’s worrying how many people celebrate how Trump’s Presidency demonstrates that the LoA works, without realising that it’s just a methodological over-confidence, bravado, self-deceit, shameless lying (literally shameless, because self-doubt isn’t allowed), developing a fantastical mindset where everything critical of you is fake news rather than opportunity for growth, and all of it is demonstrated and reinforced by apparent success – sex, wealth, praise, votes, an entourage of deluded sycophants and fearful lackeys. The USA is a breath away from civil war or fascist totalitarianism.
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I confess I once aspired to crack the code of the Law of Attraction and Positive Thinking, but I was a poor code-cracker of both, and it didn’t take me long to get bored with trying. These days I prefer to be brutally honest with myself and my situation (most of the time, anyway 🙂 ), and go from there. I read Yakau’s blog – it has a perspective I didn’t think of. I have to agree that looking at the USA from the outside, I can’t help thinking that their world is teetering on a knife edge. too. If Biden replaces Trump, it may stave off a fall of some sort. I see him as a safe pair of hands to restore some semblance of sanity, rather than a saviour.