Pur Autre Vie

I'm not wrong, I'm just an asshole

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Very Tepid Defense of Single-Sex Bathrooms

Probably the best way to design bathrooms is to have separate, single-occupant bathrooms that can be used by either sex/gender.  No one is ever in the bathroom at the same time as anyone else (except a parent changing a child's diaper or whatever), and so there just isn't any issue.

But assuming you have bathrooms with multiple toilets, you then have the following issue:  someone else can follow you into the bathroom.  And at some times, in some places, it might be desirable for a woman to be able to go into a bathroom without a man following her.  A bathroom can function as a kind of ad hoc "safe space."  And I don't just mean safe from violence.  Sometimes a guy is too aggressive, or creepy, or whatever, and while the situation doesn't warrant getting the cops involved or anything, it is really helpful to have somewhere to go where the man can't follow.

I'm not arguing that bathrooms should need to be used this way, or that there shouldn't be better alternatives.  I just think it's a reality that many establishments aren't going to establish a dedicated safe space apart from the restroom.

Now even if you allow transgender people to use the bathroom, that doesn't mean all sex/gender distinctions have to be abandoned.  But it turns a very clear transgression (what is a man doing in the women's bathroom?) into an ambiguous one (maybe it's okay because the "man" identifies as a woman).  And in the absence of a clear, unambiguous ability to tell a man to leave the bathroom, the bathroom loses its status as a safe place to go.

I want to emphasize that I don't regard this as sufficient reason to ban transgender people from bathrooms.  And as I said, probably from an architectural point of view, bathrooms should simply be single-occupant.  I'm just pointing out one potential downside that people should think about when they consider the issue.


Post a Comment

<< Home