Issue 01: Gender
The 2005 entries were originally written for the journal I kept in WST 3015/Intro to Women's Studies. They have been modified slightly since then.

2005 September 6, 6:47 pm

I was waiting in line in the bathroom when a girl behind me looked at the line and said, "I hate being a girl!" Her tone was joking, indicating that it sucked to have to wait in line because the bathroom facilities were inadequate for all of these women. Still, it made me wonder about the gender divisions of restroom development.

Some places have three kinds of restrooms— Men, Women, Family. Presumably, a parent could take their opposite sex children into the Family restroom without any embarrassment; I don’t really know the reasoning because these and I've never seen the inside of one. The few times I've been inside a Men's restroom revealed some rows of stalls and plenty of urinals, while still using the same amount of space as a Women's restroom.

I would guess that the Men's facilities can actually accommodate more men than women at a time since the urinals don't require as much spacing as bathroom stalls do. (If bathroom stalls were that narrow, imagine how uncomfortable it'd be to squeeze in and out of them! Some are tiny enough as it is!) It's no wonder you don't see long lines outside Men's restrooms the way you do Women's.

So, who designs these things? Does anyone ever consider altering these layouts a bit, maybe allocating more space to the Women's restrooms so we aren't left standing there saying, "I hate being a girl" because we have to wait to urinate? It's silly that even our bathrooms tend to have our gendered blue and pink tiles, although some restaurants and other public places may use neutral schemes. I actually found it very funny that the Buca de Beppo on 17-92 had particularly garish pink stalls and horribly "girly" décor— early 20th century advertisements for feminine products and cosmetics, a girdle, and strange trinkets. It seemed to be making fun of gendered restrooms by having fun with what was stereotypically feminine.

I know that transgendered individuals face particular challenges with gender-assigned restrooms; are you supposed to use the facilities of your birth sex, or those of your chosen gender? Either way, these individuals receive dirty looks and rude remarks for being in the "wrong" restrooms. I'm not sure that I'd be comfortable with a unisex public restroom since I'm so socialized towards divided ones, but I think it's a growing concern in our society that people should feel comfortable with something as basic as needing to relieve oneself without embarrassment. I know that a lot of people are also uncomfortable with the idea, but why not provide more unisex restrooms for those who don't care what kind they're in? Is the "Family" restroom supposed to accommodate anyone, or just families?

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2005 October 7, 6:32 pm

As my brother prepared to move into an apartment with his friends, I wondered about people saying that he needs to do this to become "a man." I can understand it as a matter of independence and taking more financial responsibility on himself instead of being as dependent on our parents, but I don't know why this makes him "a man." Isn't he already one? He just turned twenty-one, so he's certainly a "man" in the eyes of the law. What about his maturity level? I guess he's not always the most mature person, but does moving out somehow contribute to manliness? Maybe to society's notion of it, though I'd disagree with that.

Our society has that lovely "mama's boy" slur for a guy who is still close to his mother, and I guess a man who lives at home is less of a man for it. I don't see why he should be expected to move out as soon as he turns eighteen. He did live next door for several months, but he moved back in when it didn't feel right. We're a close family and have strong bonds, so why do we have to put more distance for him to be considered "grown-up" by society?

I've had a lot to say about perceptions of women, but that's a male construction that really bothers me. People should move out when it feels right for them personally. It shouldn't be a matter of society thinking someone is less for actually loving his or her relatives enough to think of their home as home!

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This e-zine copyright © 2006 Immora. All other properties are copyright to their respective holders. E-zine originally created as a service learning project for WST 3930/Third Wave Feminisms. Project started on March 18 2006.