Veera Korhonen

discovering rhetoric

Male/Female Bathrooms as an Outdated Social Norm, an Argument by Emily Bazelon

Male/Female Bathrooms as an Outdated Social Norm, an Argument by Emily Bazelon

In her article, “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating”, Emily Bazelon argues that bathrooms should have a gender-neutral design in order to promote acceptance within the modern community. With traditional gender roles for males and females shifting in our society, and an increase of non-binary people, sensitivity for gender roles should be taken into account for situations that require people to label themselves, such as typical male/female bathrooms.

(depiction of individuals struggle to label themselves)

(depiction of individuals struggle to label themselves)

Traditional male/female bathrooms are a social norm that disrespect and exclude people, as well as keeping outdated social constructs alive that essentially cause people to feel uncomfortable. Bazelon reiterates that gender-neutral bathrooms would be a way of creating a safe space for everyone, not just people who fall under two specific labels. Non-binary and transgender people should be given the same amount of respect and inclusion as everyone else.

Bazelon continues to dispute that since gender is a very fluid term nowadays, with outward appearances not necessarily defining one’s gender, bathrooms shouldn’t be a way to identify one’s gender either. She takes into account that issues such as handicapped bathrooms are being made for people to be more comfortable, and even though there is a difference between disabilities and gender-fluidity, there still isn’t a difference between the level of comfort different people feel going into bathrooms that are specifically labeled for specific people. If every bathroom was able to include everyone, as well as providing necessities for people with disabilities, people could feel universally accepted, no matter what they were born as. Social norms are changing, and accommodating these new ways of thinking should be reflected in the designs of places like bathrooms.

Trying to solve the problem by adding unisex bathrooms in addition to male/female bathrooms only prolongs the issue, people need a permanent solution that allows each and every bathroom to be a comfortable space for everyone. There are people of all different genders, cultures, and ages who can feel uncomfortable due to these accommodations, Bazelon speaks of a young, transgender girl who says that “the locker room and the bathroom are about joining the all-female enclave” (10), she can’t feel comfortable in her own surroundings because she isn’t a typical twelve-year-old girl. Situations like these prove that no bathroom should be exclusive in who can use it, and private spaces should be positive and safe for everyone.

While people of all genders are able to co-exist in public places, Bazelon touches on the problem that people feel different in private places, and why this needs to be fixed. Private places should exist for everyone to be able to do whatever they need to do and their gender shouldn’t have to play a part in that. Bazelon concludes her article with the final argument that bathroom designers should be designing these private spaces to accommodate every different human being possible, whether male, female, transgender, handicapped, or anything else they feel they are defined by. Bathrooms should be safe, positive spaces where everyone and anyone can feel comfortable.

Works Cited:

Bazelon, Emily. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 21 Nov. 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2016. <>

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