theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

A guy asked this about a convention where several boy/girl bathrooms were temporarily repurposed into unisex bathrooms. (Not all of them – you could still find your standard male/female pooping places if you were uncomfortable.)

And I’ve been thinking about that question. “Why do we need unisex bathrooms?”

Because the answer is blazingly simple if you’ve attended Penguicon: look around that convention’s room parties, and you’ll see a fair number of genderqueer and trans and cross-dressing attendees. Some of them go to conventions specifically to have a weekend where they can relax and present as whatever gender they choose and not get hassled about it.

Going to the bathroom and deciding which box to check is, presumably, a buzzkill for these people on an otherwise-supportive weekend. Hence the unisex bathrooms.

But that’s not the question the guy was asking.

He used “we,” but he meant “he.” As in, “Why do I need a unisex bathroom?” And being a cis dude who dresses like a dude, he didn’t see any need for them. As such, he concluded the convention was doing stupid things for stupid reasons.

Which was a stupid conclusion, alas.

Because this addled man’s affected with a sad disease that can strike at anyone, but tends to afflict straight cis men: They have forgotten the difference between “we” and “me.”

I personally don’t need unisex bathrooms either. But when I ask the question, “Why do we need unisex bathrooms?”, I am capable of looking around to more than my experience and doing the elementary deduction work required to uncover why. Sometimes I even ask other people than myself and the people who look like me.

Why do we need unisex bathrooms? Because not everyone’s you, dude. I have never once attended a panel discussing gun safety or libertarian philosophy, but if someone asked me the question, “Why do we need those panels?” you bet your bippie I’d pull my head out of my neon-rimmed ass and look around to other people before answering the question.

Solipsism’s a helluva drug.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

Date: 2017-05-05 06:01 pm (UTC)
elf: Red & blue faces (Face Off)
From: [personal profile] elf
One of the issues that would need to be dealt with is existing places with split-gender bathrooms - if they just changed the signs from (M) or (F) to M/F, but didn't change anything else... guys would use the ones with urinals and fewer stalls; women would use the ones with more stalls, and "everyone would know" which room was "really" for men and which was "really" for women - it wouldn't be enforceable by law, but the social constraints could be almost as strict.

Without mandating a whole lot of expensive changes, many bars/clubs/etc. (many schools, for that matter) would change the signs and nothing else would change - and bullying and social policing might even increase. (I don't see an easy way around that, no matter what happens; I'm brainstorming and trying to think of, "say we get the law we want... what happens next?" And some of the "next" is going to be ugly because a lot of bigots are going to be very unhappy with the new legal situation. I'm trying to think of ways to avoid giving them ammo for "see, it's not working!" attacks.)

I'm in California; I always thought the gendered labels on bathrooms were a suggestion thing rather than a legal thing. (I think they are here; I was surprised to find out that in some states, it's against the law to enter a "wrong sex" bathroom. Women here sometimes use the men's bathrooms when the line is too long.) A lot of larger public places - movie theatres and hotels - often have M, W, and Family bathrooms, with logos for two genders, small kids, and a wheelchair.

I don't think I'd meet anybody I didn't already know for a date in a dancehall/club.

Me neither, but I'm not a college student trying very hard to fit in, and not a single mom who very much misses having a social life away from childcare. I'm also not living in a small town where the nearest "real date" place is 30 miles away. I would, and have, met people in coffee shops that I only knew from online. (Nobody I met in person from online has ever turned out to be problematic. I don't know if I'm lucky, have good judgment, or just don't hang out online where the creeps are.)

I don't think gendered bathrooms are the right fix for "date turned unexpectedly creepy" or "omg my evil ex just entered the club;" I just know that currently, bathrooms are used as a refuge in cases like those.

There may not be a solution beyond "better preparation, and bar/club staff needs to be willing to do something about creeps."

Date: 2017-05-05 06:37 pm (UTC)
klgaffney: Detail of a painting of a couple; a girl held close to an anthropomorphic wolf in a hat and suit. (context is important)
From: [personal profile] klgaffney
*nodnod* Yeah, I don't know what the city is doing about the pre-existing gendered bathrooms other beyond what everyone was already doing, which was just refusing to police who went where. The one place I went to did what you mentioned, replaced all the signs with M/F. The Family ones I've seen at the shore more recently, but I don't believe I saw them before living in CA for a while. I think it's the 'against the law' thing that is the big battle right now.

I'm not saying that it's horrible/wrong to meet a stranger at a club; the club scene may have evolved just like the bars, but I wouldn't know 'cause I haven't experienced any recently. I got a bit OT. But--even so, my last experiences involved a different world/context/language-and-assumption set, even from my bar experiences during the same time period, which is one of the something else I'd have to take into account. Meeting people in coffee shops is a much different experience; a bar or coffee shop is/was typically my goto for meeting strangers and even when it's turned out badly, I've either been able to request assistance, assistance has been offered, I could handle it myself, or whatever--end result was walking away okay (again with more than my fair share of luck or whatever. I was very much a creep magnet--or well, I was a kid running around in a bullshit decade when being a creep was still at least borderline acceptable.).

I really do think the solution lies in bar/club staff having policies in place and being prepared to do something about creeps, like every other workplace should require. But then, my bias is that everyone should be prepared to deal with creeps and monsters (their own or someone else's), because unfortunately, creeps happen. And that alone would not only go so far towards making the bathroom thing moot, but it would help with so many more potential issues, too.

Date: 2017-05-06 05:47 pm (UTC)
arlie: (Default)
From: [personal profile] arlie
I'm also in California, and was surprised to discover that a fast food restaurant I occassionally visit had quietly changed the signs on their two single stall bathrooms to indicate that they were both unisex. I had used the "wrong" gender one occassionally, when there was a long wait for the "right" one, but I can't recall whether they'd changed anything inside it.

In any case, I haven't had a wait since, so I'd be in favour just for the more efficient queuing even without any other issues. (And how's that for a selfish, think-only-of-myself type of argument.)

Like others, I'm not sure how large, multi-stall bathrooms would play out in practice. It worked fine when I was in college, but there was a rather exreme lack of total strangers in the bathrooms of newly co-ed dormitories. Also, women appear to have taken the initiative in liberating the bathrooms - in aging, previously all female dorms which were still mostly inhabited by females, and the male-designated bathrooms were brand new and thus in far better condition than the female-designated ones. (No one was talking much about TG issues in those ancient days; the salient issue in this case was equity.)

There's no reason a person cannot behave badly towards members of the same gender category in a uni-sex bathroom, but a lot of us have far more expectation [and fear] of cross gender misbehaviour, particularly males misbehaving towards females. (And FWIW, on the same campus there were issues with males invading female-labelled bathrooms in more public buildings with sexual assault in mind, leading to women needing to get a key or combination from library staff in order to visit "their" bathroom.)


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