This photo, a statue of Raleigh, NC namesake Sir Walter Raleigh, was draped with a rainbow boa during protests over the infamous North Carolinian HB2. Photo was taken by Wikipedian “Indy beetle.”
In Suzanne Tick’s essay “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society,” she argues that the more multifarious gender perspectives allowed by an increasing number of women in the workforce also correlates with an increased move towards gender neutral design and perhaps even a full acceptance of the theory of gender as a spectrum. Tick focuses her argument on three design fields: architecture, fashion, and interior design. In short, her argument stems from the concept that Modernism, a vague term for much of the design of the mid 20th century, was fundamentally tied up in a generally sexist paradigm of self-glorification and mass production, with women being consigned to ancillary roles (Tick). However, Tick believes that an increasing widespread internalization of feminism in the west is bringing about a move away from strict masculine industrial hardness to a more sustainable model focused on the feeling of living spaces. Furthermore, she argues that this has already picked up a fast pace in the fashion world, where this intersection is increasingly leading towards a uni-gender fashion scene, where feminine clothing for men and masculine clothing for women are becoming par course, leading to a stylistic androgyny that comes hand in hand with the increasing resistance against the gender binary (Tick). Tick ties this into what is by far the most symbolic fight over gender identity: bathrooms. Finally, Tick suggests that the move to have more gender neutral restrooms ties into a greater need for accessible design in regards to alternative and nontraditional gender identities, something she ties in with the Americans With Disabilities Act as worth enforcing through legislation.
Through this essay, Tick hits on some of the more interesting aspects of the “gender revolution” we’re on the brink of. While some of her points may be arguable academically, especially vis a vis the entire modernist movement being dominated purely by masculine ideals, Tick shines when she points that, on the more distant edges of society, we are increasingly moving to a more uniform acceptance of more diverse gender identities, which will define much of the subtler aspects of our world for decades afterwards. However, I must sadly note that these arguments do seem a bit overly optimistic in light of current political events. While the predominantly liberal artistic class will likely be quite accepting of these values in maybe even a decade, issues like racism and gay rights, which are issues spanning back beyond 60 years in American politics, still play an out-sized role in the problems of the U.S., which doesn’t suggest as much utopian progress will be made as Tick hopes. However, despite this, it’s still important to make the first step.
The man on the left (Dan Bishop of Georgia) cared so much about where people used the restroom that he virtually ruined his state’s reputation and endangered its economy.
1. A good portion of Americans are far too interested in how and where others use the restroom- some even to the point of losing massive amounts of money because of a perceived morality of saying that certain people can or cannot use a restroom because of their gender identity. In the midst of this, American University has decided to provide gender-neutral restrooms on the first floor of their residence halls, in case that people who do not feel comfortable with the potential social situation of using the bathroom corresponding to their identity on their own floor still have a method of performing basic bodily functions. The Housing and Dining Program’s staff make this the main focus from the get-go, emphasizing the fact that it is for “anyone to use regardless of gender-identity.” The posting of this sign itself, versus simply denoting that it’s a gender-neutral restroom, is a political act of at-least ostensible solidarity, showing an understanding of the fact that freedom of gender expression is an issue many young people see as worth fighting for. The next sentence is a tacit acknowledgement of the fact that a sizable part of the student base is either uncomfortable with the subject or sees it somehow as an infringement on their rights, urging students to try and make it work without outside intervention. The school’s wording in this section is particularly interesting- it attributes some discomfort with the idea to it being “new and different,” which portrays it as simply a change rather than the “assault” on traditional values some see it as. It finally concludes with the note that there is a lock on the restroom if those using it need it, which is probably a fair compromise for people used to having restrooms that lock or feel uncomfortable about the fact that feasibly two people can use those restrooms at once. In any case, this sign is a very good way for the school to make their case for being accepting of people’s gender identities and fostering an attitude of inclusivity on their campus.
All of these universities would be given tax exemptions for land they owned- but for good or ill?
2. “Shall property be exempt?”
This sentence is the closest thing to the dictionary definition of a “loaded question” that I have seen in recent memory. The sentence, while ostensibly simply a question at it’s core, is phrased to make both a logos and pathos appeal before it’s even done being asked. It’s perhaps easiest to break this sentence into two halves, so let’s first consider “Shall property owned by the University System of Georgia and utilized by providers of college and university student housing and other facilities…” Already we can see the rhetor informing the audience that this lands seems to be primarily used for student housing, a necessary service that the likely entirely college educated assembly would know to be necessary, and maybe even remember from their own time at college. The phrasing glosses over the fact that this land could contain everything from a sexual health clinic to the campus bookstore, meaning that this land could be used for potentially less agreeable things or even sources of profit for the school system, which would be a far different question. The second half is even more interesting: “…continue to be exempt from taxation to keep costs affordable?” The clever rhetorical device here comes at the very end, where the phrasing seems to change the question from “tax exemption” to “affordable college,” the latter of which being a far more emotionally charged issue. While people may have valid points against allowing an institution to be tax exempt that would put their constituency to sleep, it’s far easier to get this measure passed if they turn it into an issue of keeping a public college affordable, which could make or break a candidate in the right community. In any case, it’s quite clear that the rhetor here knew exactly what he was doing when he phrased this question, and we can give him some credit for the fact.