DiversityNZ logo

Posted by Philip on 6 March 2015, 5:21 pm in , , , , , , , , , , , ,

What loos need to lose

My friend Jeannie over at Bikes for Fish posted an article from Huffpost Gay Voices about "bills [that] have been filed in three [US] states to prevent transgender people from using bathrooms consistent with their gender identity." Described as "last gasp attempts to hurt LGBT people", legal acts like this illuminate a more deeply entrenched assumption about dunnies:

That they need to be gender-specific at all.

I'm not your average bloke, but I've always wondered why public toilets are separated by gender. And what's with urinals? We don't have either in private dwellings.

I've never understood the male bonding ritual of peeing side by side at urinals. I've never done it. Actually I lie, there was a urinal at the special school I attended as a 5-8 year-old. I don't know why. Wobbly kids at a urinal was surely an accident waiting to happen.

Ok I need to issue the pun warning now.

Now, back to parallel peeing. It's this weird, awkward, homoerotic yet homophobic thing. I don't get it. I get stage fright — and I'm a professional performer. Do leave a comment if you can enlighten me about its upside. 

Women don't pee next to each other in public. Why do men?

Actually, I lie again. I once visited the site of controversial commune Centrepoint. It had an open room full of toilets — women peed (and pooed I guess) side by side. I could hardly pee even with the room empty.

But they didn't have urinals at Centrepoint. So I guess everyone peed and pooed together equally, regardless of gender. They were onto something — or at least getting there.

To address any women reading and thinking they wouldn't want to share public 'facilities' with men, I hear you, sisters. Neither do I. Men's public toilets are gross. But are they only gross because men are gross and they know they don't need to care because women won't be in there? 

That's diarrhetorical. Hah. And I know, there's a safety factor.

The fact is, though, public toilet design is centuries old. I'm sure it dates back to French pissoirs, which were designed to make public urination easier and discourage public urination. Whatever. And pissoirs were for men — I guess public toilets for women were an afterthought.

So we need a new thought — a public bathroom revolootion. We need unisex, individualised, fully-enclosed toilet cubicles (don't know about you but I get very self-conscious about people hearing me fart under the partition). Every fourth or fifth cubicle needs to be accessible. They need to have either enclosed — or shared, open, safe — wash areas. They need to be clean — and cleaned, regularly or even better, automatically.

Ironically, all this, including the technology, already exists. Check this out, made even better by the classical Linkin Park, "In The End" cover theme music.

As the Huffpost article attests, the anti-trans* laws are unlikely to stick. But let's widen the lens. Loos need to lose gender.

Until they do, they'll just remain — this is Jeannie's — excretiating.

Follow on Bloglovin


You are welcome to share this post freely and without permission. Acknowledgement and a link back to this site is appreciated. And please leave a comment if you wish – I'd be interested to know where I've ended up.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.