Friday, October 15, 2010
Gender, Bathrooms, and Drunk Jerks
Do you remember that book from almost twenty years ago titled: There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom? It was one of the first books I ever finished cover to cover and I was 2nd grade. I remember feeling proud. Ever since I was little we were taught that boys go into the boy's room and girls go into the girl's room.
The other night I was in a crowded club and a group of friends were outside waiting for me. I wanted to hurry. I really hate making people wait. I rushed up to the bathrooms and there was one toilet marked men and one toilet marked women. The women's room was occupied and the men's room was open. A man stood outside the women's room. He looked over at me and said "I am NOT going in the men's room, but you can feel free to. I'll watch the door." So I did. To give the young effeminate man credit, the men's room was pretty gross. As I was in there I thought to myself how confusing gender can be. The line to the women's toilet was occupied by someone who was a man but preferred a cleaner restroom. Cleanliness is often attributed to a more feminine quality but it is not fair to attribute necessarily to women. Huh, wouldn't it be a great world, if all toilets instead read: Feminine/Masculine rather than Man/Woman?
After the mini-epiphany I washed my hands and heard some commotion out in the hall. Four men had come up to the line of the men's bathroom and had gotten news there was a woman in there. I could here them from inside, "What the hell is a woman doing in the men's bathroom? Man, that is fucked up!"
As I walked out of the bathroom, I came upon an onslaught of cuss words and middle fingers. "What the fuck are you doing in the men's bathroom?" "Get the fuck out of there!" "That is not your bathroom!" "Why don't you use your own bathroom!" "You're disgusting!" Four large men yelled down at me as I stood frozen in the doorway. I was speechless. Disgusted, embarrassed, confused, uncomfortable. They were clearly drunk. "Just get the hell out of the way." they said as I moved quickly past them.
This has stuck with me. It's been one week since this happened and I still can't come to peace with it. I just let it go. I walked away. I walked outside and told the friends I was with, who ironically were a group of four men as well. They shrugged it off and we walked away. What were they gonna do, go start a fight? And what could I have done? Called the police? Police! Police! Four men gave me the middle finger!
I wish I could tie this up with a nice reflective paragraph on the implications involved but instead I'll give it a Brechtian finale by leaving it unsettled and with a few questions for you all. What would have been the best response here? Just ignoring them? Does that give them the power? Should I not go in the boy's bathroom at all?