Making Bathrooms More Accomodating
In Suzanne Tick’s essay His and Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society, she argues the reluctance of our society to conform to gender neutral amenities and displays how the bathrooms can be the primary location for discrimination. As the transgender community continues to increase their presence, it is becoming increasingly crucial that restrooms, classrooms, and the world as a whole become gender equal and escapes the traditional female and male markers.
While most would view a bathroom as just an area everyone uses to do completely natural things, Tick points out that bathrooms seem to attract more attention for their gender signs than what the point behind a bathroom is. While “restrooms are public conveniences,” this concept of neutrality when it comes to gender in a bathroom has created an uprising of consequences. The “ terms for entering them have been fixed,” completely based on a sign on the outside labled “MEN” or “WOMEN.” Nobody seems to have
an issue using a bathroom labeled “family” on the outside which is easily open to any gender to use, however the gender marks present on a little plaque outside the door dictate who can and cannot enter. In fact, “many people viscerally resist the idea of mixing male and female anatomy in multi stall bathrooms,” completely based off of the idea that it is something not traditionally done so far.
Evidently accommodations to the prior traditional male and female bias’ have been created due to the transgender population, however Tisk realizes how wording creates a negative effect on the intermingling of genders. The specific choice of wording for the alteration in bathrooms and inclusivity is problematic. The wording for “accommodating… can also have a compulsory aspect” it creates “a distinction between the normal and the other” that can create a stronger sense of discrimination than the one that is already present.
Consequently, these biases have also emphasized the favor society emphasizes on the male gender. Historically, men have always been the ones that are favored, seen as the “rulers,” and taken over society. Yet when it comes to these new gender binaries, accommodations for gender are always seen for women not for men. Tick points out that “we could see the urinal as an accommodation for the male body,” but because men are seen as the norm for society, we avoid confrontation on that subject. She mentions the slightest differences between men and women bathrooms that often go unseen, yet should be highlighted. On the same note of the urinals, women have constantly been placed in long lines at bathrooms while “urinals keep the line moving for men,” furthering the problem sexism plays in our society. As the years go on and we become more accepting of the arising LGBTQ community, bathrooms continue to be a problem. Through the new reform of pronouns being publicly discussed and respected, especially in colleges, there seems to be no problem respecting those. However “deciding where they should change and shower and use the bathroom has been trickier” when the concept of acceptance arises. To many, a simple bathroom alteration would be seen as not a big deal, after all it’s all about “relatively small adjustments for the sake of coexistence,” yet it creates such an uprising of problems.
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