Thursday, May 5, 2011

Gender neutral washrooms - not as cool as they sound

Last week I experienced my first gender neutral washroom (excluding queer bars, where male/female washroom signs are basically just suggestions). I was at a club in Vancouver, and when nature called I headed downstairs to the loo, which I quickly discovered was unisex. I’m an open minded person about gender stuff, so I was surprised to realize how uncomfortable the washroom made me feel. After having some time to mull it over, I realized I disliked it for three reasons:

  1. It smelled like pee. I’m totally blaming that on the dudes.

  2. It removed that chit-chat-in-the-washroom ritual that women have. Women are notorious for going to the loo in packs. It’s a nice little escape in a noisy club; you do your makeup, gossip, make new friends and accept hugs from random drunk girls. It just doesn’t feel right in a unisex washroom, because you can’t partake in the ritual in quite the same way.

  3. It didn’t feel safe. The washroom didn’t have stalls so much as “cells” – each stall was its own contained unit. There was no gap under the door or sides, and it was sealed on top; it was a completely closed-off room. It would be really easy for two people to jump in there and get their freak on, which is cool if it’s consensual, but it would also be really easy to force someone in there against their will. With the noise of the club, it would be hard to hear anything.
There are probably much better gender neutral washrooms around, and I hope to experience more in the future because I think they have the potential to be cool in the right situation. But I’m not convinced that they’re appropriate for a night club.

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