In pondering the various controversies in America, I started to think about those public restrooms. Why that issue would come to mind, God only knows. But, I shall pursue it regardless.
In this day of self-identification, multiple genders, transvestites, transsexuals and even ungendered people, it appears that the greatest social and political controversies center on those public facilities that were launched in merry ole England by Thomas Crapper, who euphemistically marketed his invention as the “Thom Crapper patented waterfall No. 1” — although it is also used for number two. The official title was much too long for common reference, so it became known more simply as “the crapper.” Of course, we are talking about the toilet – and for the purpose of this commentary, the public toilet.
The gay lifestyle, in most of its manifestation, has become a relatively normal part of the American culture. The almost universal negative depictions of homosexuals in movies has been replaced by positive characterizations. Once having to live in the dark closets of society, they now live openly, displaying their lifestyle with flags, bumper stickers and parades in which leading politicians and government officials proudly participate. And of course, they can now be married and raise children.
Holding hands in public is no longer shocking. In my son’s Catholic high school there were two gay-couple parents and my daughter’s Catholic university promoted a number of gay clubs on its bulletin board.
But, then there is still the battle of the bathrooms. We Americans tend to be very private about the privy. That is why we sometimes call it a “privy.” Those men’s and women’s rooms are fitted with stalls and panels to protect our private parts from the peering eyes of peers – even of our own gender.
The idea of responding to nature’s call, with all its sounds and olfactory side effects, in the presence of the opposite sex is beyond our heritage. Many other cultures are not so modest.
Gender separation in public lavatories has been such a mandate that most states have laws against people of the opposite sex pooping in … ooops … I mean popping in. But those were times when we had a more basic understanding of the opposite sex. We were once culturally a bisexual society – meaning that in the sense of two genders. Bathroom separation was not a problem. It was a requirement.
So, how do we solve the potty problem when two facilities do not seem to serve the needs of more than two ascribed genders? Most Americans would still prefer that everyone use the facility that is associated with their genitalia. This still leave an uneasy situation for male transvestites.
A fellow I knew in Chicago was a very non-passable transvestite. When dressed in male clothes, he used the men’s room. When in drag, he dragged himself to the ladies’ room. Since he was still obviously a man in ladies’ garments, I am not sure how that all worked out. I never asked.
There was a recent case that involved the men’s locker room at an LA Fitness gym – and locker rooms are a form of public lavatory. Seems like a young lady entered the ladies’ locker room and came face-to-face – well sort of – with a totally naked male. When she complained, the management told her that LA Fitness had a “non-judgmental policy,” and that other person considers himself … ah … herself to be a woman. The life-long woman did not agree, so she filed a law suit and the court agreed to disagree with LA Fitness and awarded the verdict to the party of the first part.
These kinds of situations and legal actions – in both directions – are happening all over America. The solution, however, may be found in China – even though the Middle Kingdom does not recognize any middle ground between the two sexes. Public toilets in China often have a uni-sex facility in which the sinks are an open common area. The stalls are enclosed from floor to ceiling and available to be used by either gender when not otherwise occupied, of course.
Such a solution would require an enormous amount of money to retrofit all the current public potties, but that is a small price to solve America’s crapper crisis. Don’t ya think?