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Wednesday, 23 July 2008

The WSJ on Social Structures in the Loo

The Wall Street Journal waxes poetic about the ladies' loo. It starts with, "It's a good thing office lavatories aren't coed." This is more or less the crux of the article. Why is it a good thing? Well, the author never actually says, she just hints. The reason, of course, is that it's a holy temple of feminity. A safe space, for gender normative women. For others?

Not every woman, of course, wants to join an office ladies' room club. Some undoubtedly think there's more to be gained snagging lunch dates with staff several rungs above them than exchanging advice with women colleagues. Others simply don't feel comfortable sharing confidences in front of toilet stalls. They wash their hands in silence and, while they're present, conversations around them halt.

And this has nothing whatsoever to do with gender presentation. The reason that women have always fallen into icy silence when I tried to pee near them wasn't because I was too butch. It was because I was a stuck-up bitch who scorned their advice. Who knew?

Oh, but what about the mens? Well, this is the WSJ, so we can't focus on women's issues, even when they're as normative as possible. "Still some of my male colleagues, who describe their exchanges in men's rooms as monosyllabic at best, tell me they want to join the ladies' room club. To which I say, come on in -- but listen." To which I say, give me a fucking break.

Ok, it's nice that women can get a break from men and have some of their own space. It's valuable for minority communities to have such spaces. But these informal clubs cement power in conforming members and exclude non-conforming. Also, access to toilets is a biological necessity, not a luxury. Bearded ladies need access as much as those who might want to deal with "ripped panty hose."

Fuck the ladies room club. Move it someplace else.

2 comments:

Polly Moller said...

In high school I developed superhuman bladder control because I could not use the girls' bathrooms in high school because of threats to my physical safety every time I entered them. As an adult I don't relate at all to this ladies' room club the WSJ describes. I don't know what they are talking about.

Crinis said...

No men's room club? Pshah. I always get weirded out when my boss, my boss's boss, the CEO(!) make small talk with me while we're lined up in front of the urinals. If I see somebody's back I recognize, I head for the stall. Networking and peeing, while perhaps acceptable, make me feel really weird.