Thursday, 22 January 2015

Feminism update: toilets are now sexist!

Date Started: 16/1/15                     Date Completed: 21/1/15                   Date First Published: 21/1/15

In this mini-essay, i facetiously satirise some feminist chick-lit. I don't often do this kind of thing, except when i can connect to a generalised point, but i was referred to a particularly asinine feminist screed, by an article on the BBC website, recently. I've heard much more outrageous diatribes from feminist hatemongers, but this one has such a vague, somehow-charming delusion about it, that i carried on reading.

Needless to say, just about every sentence had something either logically, factually, or journalistically wrong with it. When reading this kind of thing, i like to imagine the mirror similar - what words would a masculist use, with the genders reversed?

Such fun, though. Expect a sardonic tone. Think of this as a 'sweet and sour' mini-essay :-D

{Imagine the <s> sarcasm notes, pretty much all the way through :-P }

'The Everyday Sexism of Women Waiting in Public Toilet Lines'

- It's a good start, isn't it. Language 101. What's sexist? The line, the toilet, the fact that it's public, the waiting, or the women who are waiting in public toilet lines? Or maybe all of them. Yes - that must be it. They are all sooooo sexist.
Soraya Chemaly is a media critic and activist.
- So she's a social dropout who couldn't get a proper job?
Long lines for women's restrooms are the result of a history that favors men’s bodies
- That's right. Men are always to blame. Even when it's women blocking the way. You tell it to them.
If you’re a woman, chances are you’ve a) spent time fidgeting in a long line waiting to use a public toilet, b) delayed a bodily function because you don’t want to or haven’t the time to waste standing in line to use a public toilet, c) considered sneaking into a men’s room—illegal in some places, or d) cursed loudly because of all of the above.
- If you're a man, chances are you've had the same experiences too. but i don't care about that, because i'm a feminist - i advocate for women only. Move along, please...
Faced with a long restroom line that spiraled up and around a circular stairwell at a recent museum visit, I opted not to wait.
- Opted. Your choice, your freedom. Not oppression.
Why do we put up with this?
- Basic supply and demand. If you want to buy something and can't (maybe because of a huge queue) that's not oppression either. Plus, if you didn't put up with it, you'd have to wee all down your legs.
This isn’t a minor pet peeve, but a serious question. Despite years of “potty parity” laws, women are still forced to stand in lines at malls, schools, stadiums, concerts, fair grounds, theme parks, and other crowded public spaces.
- Just like men are. But because they're often made to go to the storey above, i suppose you wouldn't have noticed :-P
This is frustrating, uncomfortable, and, in some circumstances, humiliating.
- Just as it is for males.
It’s also a form of discrimination, as it disproportionately affects women.
- Discrimination is not a synonym for prejudice or bias - it means 'telling two things apart' i.e. "can you discriminate between the apple juice and the cyanide?". False discrimination exists in perceiving/claiming differences that are not there. And no - in many places, greater efforts are made to accommodate women than men, with toilets closer to the ground floor, more of them, and those toilets being better maintained. Apparently. According to the people who routinely go in both :-P
After counting the women, I tweeted, “Dear @britishmuseum there are FIFTY women and girls standing in line for the loo while the men’s room has zero line #everydaysexism.”

- Because you are an idiot, clearly. It's not their fault that women want to use the loo, and are in your way. That's not sexism.
Immediately, people responded with the suggestion that women use the men’s room. But even more responses were defensive, along the lines of “How on god’s green earth did you arrive at the conclusion that this was sexist?”
- Both sensible. Folks around the British Museum are hardly going to publicly execute you for an unexplained crime, are they.
Let me count the ways.
- Correct answer: zero. Her answer:...
Women need to use bathrooms more often and for longer periods of time because:
- Here we go. Grab some popcorn.
we sit to urinate (urinals effectively double the space in men’s rooms)
- You don't have to. That's your choice. Your freedom. Not oppression. Grab a she-wee, maybe. It's not too high-tech for your tiny feministy mind! Anyway, how does cubicle space inefficiency mean you have to use them more often and for longer?!
we menstruate
- In public toilets? In huge numbers, every day? In any way comparable to the frequency that anyone urinates, so that they can make a noticeable contribution to the queue? I don't think so. Just get a menstrual cup, pop it in, and forget about it.
we are responsible for reproducing the species (which makes us pee more)
- Two words: incontinence pads. And i think you'll find male gametes are involved in sexual reproduction too. #feministignoranceofbiology
we continue to have greater responsibility for children (who have to use bathrooms with us)
- Because many women are sexist too, and are complicit in refusing to allow men caregiving roles. This is your choice. Your freedom. Not oppression. Many women, however, are different.
and we breastfeed (frequently in grotty bathroom stalls).
- Most people (especially women) are OK with breastfeeding. If you go into a toilet, you don't necessarily have to hog a cubicle to do it, thereby contributing to the queue that others have to suffer! In fact, if more people used she-wees, and stood at urinals, then that'd free up space for standing/sitting around. [brainwaves, LOL]
Additionally, women tend to wear more binding and cumbersome clothes, whereas men’s clothing provides significantly speedier access.
- Their choice. Their freedom. Not oppression.
But in a classic example of the difference between surface “equality” and genuine equity, many public restrooms continue to be facilities that are equal in physical space
- Oh no, equality! Equality's not equal though, is it. For women to be equal, they must be more equal than men. That's how equality really works - women must have more, more, more! Knock the building through, and give them acres of standing room, and the boys'll just have to piss up the outside of the building. That is what true equality looks like!
while favoring men’s bodies, experiences, and needs.
- In what way? Certainly none that you've already mentioned!
Legislation to address the design and provision of public restrooms in new construction often requires more space for women’s rooms.
- So you admit that the #everydaysexism you purported to exist just three paragraphs ago, is actually fictitious!?
But that has hardly made a dent in many of our oldest and most used public spaces.
- And why do you think that might be? Because they can't just knock walls down, in listed buildings; or because The Patriarchy's controlling the laws of Physics to oppress women?
This is especially true in powerful institutions, such as schools and government complexes, where old buildings, and their gendered legacies, dominate.
- Sexism consists of incorrect human beliefs and behaviours regarding the sexes - not the architectures of buildings.
In the United States, for example, women in the House of Representatives didn’t get a bathroom near the Speaker’s Lobby until 2011. Prior to that, the nearest women’s room was so far away that the time it took women to get to the bathroom and back exceeded session break times.
- This is just a matter of convenience. And i will point out that the problem has been fixed.
The nearby men’s room, meanwhile, had a fireplace, a shoeshine stand, and televised floor proceedings.
- And the new women's one has... ? You can't assess equality without comparison. Do your activism properly.
Additionally, old building codes required more space for men, as women’s roles were restricted almost entirely to the private sphere.
- Citation needed. But if the women were at home, why would it even be necessary to encode the provision of 'more space' for the only people who were there?? More than what??
That reality has often confused the “is” with the “ought.”
- An expression borrowed from religionist bullshit (that Science can say what is, but only God can say what ought to be).
As scholar Judith Plaskow noted in a paper on toilets and social justice, “Not only does the absence of women’s bathrooms signify the exclusion of women from certain professions and halls of power, but it also has functioned as an explicit argument against hiring women or admitting them into previously all-male organizations.”
- Judith Plaskow is as much a 'feminist scholar' as Kent Hovind is a 'Bible scholar'. But note that this is very distant from the #everydaysexism that supposedly plagues modern women's lives. Sure, infrastructure is costly in many areas around the world, today, but i doubt that includes the location where this article was written.
Schools like the Virginia Military Institute used this excuse as recently as 1996.
- Ummm.... 21 years ago is not very recent. But not having anywhere to No.1 or No.2 would actually be a very good reason not to live and work there. Note that Chemaly never criticises toilet-related segregation, in this article. In fact, she's already scoffed at the idea, with the suggestion of women using toilets labelled 'men's'.
When spaces are changed so that everyone experiences equal waiting time, backlash has been quick. In 2004, for example, new rules resulted in men waiting in line to use the bathrooms at Soldier Field in Chicago. They complained until five women’s rooms were converted to men’s. The result was that, once again, women’s wait times doubled. No protests have yielded a commensurate response to reduce them.
- It takes an obscure sports club to find an example of apparent masculism!? This, nevertheless, does not justify her feminist reaction to it.
That women are socialized to quietly deal with physical discomfort, pain, and a casual disregard for their bodily needs is overlooked in the statements, “No one is making them wait,” or “Why don’t they demand changes?”
- Ironically, these rhetorical (and i suspect fictitious) retorts apply just as much to men: 'No one is making them wait'; 'why don't they demand changes?'. They did, and something changed. Meanwhile, poverty hasn't been fixed, for men or women, climate change continues to progress, for men and women, and everything else that's far more important than toilet queues does so too. Maybe feminists have to fish this deep for something to moan about, because they're ignoring everything that's further than 100 miles from their doorstep.
Last year, when writer Jessica Valenti made the sensible argument that tampons should be free in public bathrooms, the way toilet paper is, it resulted in a misogynistic hate-fest.
- By which she means 'criticism'. Toilet paper is free to all (unless you're in a paying public toilet) because it would be silly to expect people to leave the house with their own roll, just in case, but tampons would be free only to women. I mean, what are the men going to do with them, even if they're supplied to the 'men's' toilets too? This would not be equality - it would privilege women more than men. But hey - as we've already established, equality means women are more equal than men, and so must get more. Right?
In the meantime, the male-centeredness of our restroom standards can also be seen in the constant stream (no pun intended) of products cheerily encouraging women to expand their excreting options, by peeing, for example, “like a man.”
- Yes! Freedom and choice and empowerment are bad! Because a feminist said so. And why did she say so? Because freedom and choice and empowerment are associated with men, and men are all that is black and dark and evil. Mwahahahaha... Bigotry is arbitrary. Another feminist, somewhere, is probably argueing that tampons are bad, and women shouldn't use them at all, because they're tools of male control - manufactured and sold by male-dominated companies, to profit from female nature. Mwahahahaha... Every stupid idea has a pseudo-rationalisation.
On the other hand, attempts to encourage men to emulate women in equal measure, sitting to urinate, are seen as degrading assaults on masculinity.
- No, they're seen as pointless attempts at conformity for conformity's sake. There are good reasons for people to use urinals, when they can.
This growing trend, a more sanitary and less expensive option in public restrooms (because less cleaning is required), horrifies many people.
- Weeing standing up, facing the bowl, is superior to weeing sitting down, facing away from it, because most of the splatter actually comes at the end, when male homo sapienses have to shake their oversized genitals dry. The extra tubing of the urethra doesn't clear itself, y'know. There is no other way. Plenty of 'women's' toilets have urinal lakes on their floors too, though. That also horrifies many people. Especially the conception of how on the FSM's pale blue dot they managed it! [shakes head in befuddlement]
It matters that 83% of registered architects and an eerily similar percentage of legislators in the U.S. are the very people least likely to have to wait in lines.
- The cause of the problem is too many people, taking too much time. This 83% figure is just propaganda to the loathing of men, based on the previously splattered erroneous premises.
As urban planner Salma Samar Damluji put it during a 2013 discussion about why women’s input is so important to designing public space, effective urban planning is “not a luxury, it’s a basic need.”
- Surely the understanding comes from investigation. Not from being born a woman?! Girls can work out how condoms work. Boys can work out how to flush toilets. Just do some learning. That is what you should encourage people to do. And yourself, while you're at it :-P
In the United States, laws are rapidly changing, largely due to effective LGTBQ advocacy and a generational sea change in how gender is understood.
- Ah, feminists love an opportunity to equivocate between 'gender' and 'sex' don't they. Gender is a grammatical construct, and sex is a biological one. Whether you use 'he', 'she', or 'it' they're still the same person. Fortunately for us all, she's managed to crowbar this irrelevancy into her lecture on micturative facilities. What could we possibly have done without it?
Organic solutions, particularly at high schools and colleges, include combinations of male/female facilities alongside gender-neutral ones.

- Haha. And again. But also with an abuse of the term 'organic'. 'Organic' means 'has carbon in it' and nothing more. Notice that she's still failed to directly criticise sex segregation as far as toilets are concerned. You would have thought a true bid for equality would at least involve a recognition of it, wouldn't you.
Single-stall designs that can be used by everyone, such as airplane bathrooms and family/handicapped facilities are the most space and time efficient, and least discriminatory.
- ...and another equivocation between discrimination and bias/prejudice, tribolising the subject of omnisex facilities, but not quite managing to hit it head-on. Instead, she opts to disregard urinals, which are far superior on space, time efficiency, water usage, and of course paper use, compared to any cubicle-based setup. She does this because urinals are used by men, and mans are bads. Or maybe she just didn't think of them, because of ignorance?? You don't have to be a man to know about urinals, Soraya - just learn about them!
They are also philosophically palatable to a broad spectrum, as they represent not so much a contested segregations or de-gendering of restroom spaces, as much as a rethinking of privacy and the uses of public space.
- So close and yet so far. Instead of tackling segregation, she excuses it, and diverts it to 'privacy' i.e. hysterical sexist paranoia along the lines of 'i'm not showering with a gay - he'll try to bum me!' P.S. Does this read like pretentious pseudo-intellectual babble, to anyone? Yes, i thought it did to me, too.
Women aren’t standing in lines because we bond over toilet paper pattern or because we’re narcissistic and vain.
- Strawman! I spotted it. Do i get a prize? I didn't think anyone did think women insisted on standing in lines, merely due to vanity. Personally, i thought people stood in line because there was a surfeit of other people who wanted to make the most of their chance in the toilet - to soak up every last moment, earned through waiting, and maybe to use that huge mirror on the wall to touch up their facepaint, while they're at it. After all, why wait so long, and then not make the most of it? Plus, because i came here with all my friends, we can have a chat, and i'm sure that won't unconsciously slow us down :-D
We’re standing in line because our bodies, like those of trans and queer people, have been historically shamed, ignored, and deemed unworthy of care and acknowledgement. We shouldn’t have to wait or postpone having these needs fairly met in public space.
- Historically, they've actually been shamed and glorified, simultaneously, but by different people. But not any more. Now it's men's turn! They are the ones who shall stand 'in line' and be mocked for being male. They are the ones who will go with all their mates, so that they have something to chat about while they're waiting. They will be the ones to make the queue two, three, four times as long as it could have been, and thereby give more for masculists to whine about on the pages of Time Magazine's website. They will be the ones to line up in renal agony, at their 'rock gigs' and 'sports stadiums' and other stereotypical places, to be shamed by female passers-by, who revel in their en-suite gold-leafed restrooms, with pearl in-lining, roaring log fires, and free copies of cheap pornographic literature, courtesy of Mills & Boone. And will we care? We will not. Down with the Patriarchy. Up with the Matriarchy. We will ruuuuuuule!!!
Soraya Chemaly is a media critic and activist whose work focuses on the role of gender in politics, religion and popular culture. Her work appears in Salon, CNN, Ms. Magazine, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, RHRealityCheck, Role Reboot and The Feminist Wire.

- Yup. Complete dropout. I am not surprised.

Meanwhile, we sensible individuals will get back to working on actually trying to fix the actual problems in the actual world, while persistently checking ourselves for accidentally neglecting to care about any subpopulation that lives on it, whether through sexist factionalism or pure egomanic narcissism.

What annoys me about the truncated compassion of feminists and masculists alike, is that in their efforts to depict themselves as put-upon victims - men, because they don't get to see their kids, and women, because they don't get to see the Armitage Shanks-supplied facilities promptly enough - they obscure the reality that they're all just members of a species who, for no reason at all, mutually impose weird expectations on each other as a result of superstitious sexist beliefs about each other.

And because they're putting so much effort into casting themselves as victims in a puerile sex war, they fail to notice that they're wasting efforts on smalltime problems, and ignoring the far larger problems of the world that, if they are sexism related, are far more likely to exist hundreds/thousands of miles away from their own abodes in the UK/USA, where people rarely have the privilege to write fatuous articles about queueing outside toilets, for a living! Anyway, that isn't even a sex-specific problem. What feminists cast as 'women's issues' and masculists cast as 'men's issues' generally turn out to have nothing to do with being male or female - they're general 'human issues' that can and do apply to everyone. Women's Rights turn out to be Human Rights, just as Gay Rights are. And Short-Humans' Rights... are they due a whole movement, dedicated to them, because there's a general perception that taller people are better at things, even when they're not? No - that would be silly. It would be a weakness of a shortist's ideology - not a strength - that it regarded only short people; just as it is a weakness of a feminist's ideology only to regard the feminine people; and it is a weakness of a masculist's ideology only to regard the masculine people; and a weakness of an LGist's ideology only to regard the 100% monosexual people.

And so i suppose that is the generalised point that i said i didn't have, 3480 words ago: we should ignore facile bellyaching, and concentrate on the real problems of the world, whomever they effect, by fastidiously thinking through the potential long-term consequences of our actions.

Is that end to my facetious article
too heavy for you? Oh well :-P

TTFN, folks.

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