About 30 minutes into my walk, yesterday, I found myself on a little road, with a curve in it. It led me into a warren of enticing streets I hadn’t wandered down before, and it was then I realised that the numerous cups of tea I’d drunk were catching up to me.
The trees were beginning to repaint their leaves before throwing them to the ground in exasperation,presumably b/c they couldn’t find matching curtains they liked.The day was crisp as an apple bite&lovely,but here was my bladder with it’s hunting horn, hallooing for my attention.
It was all houses&hedgerows around me&I found my mind activating the search&rescue feature that Too Much Tea provides.I made conversation with my companion, got great lungfuls of October, noticed builders on scaffolds&unusual birds,but my inner monologue ran on a singular theme.
I started calculating how many minutes it might take me to get to places I knew would have a loo. I discounted the nearest supermarket&the park because they were too far. I remembered a pub called the angel (who rather fell in my estimation, when I remembered it had closed)
We passed the plant nursery&discovered it was a building site,just when I’d begun to relax that I could nip in there,shouting “nice begonias” over my shoulder at whoever sits at the till,as I dashed past.We crossed traffic lights&climbed hills&I was enjoying it&also very much not
The idea of knocking on a stranger’s door felt ridiculous but I began to be more tempted. I considered fields, but feared the judgement of cows. I briefly wondered if my companion could distract the printer ink factory employees while I hot footed it past their security.
I was sifting through ideas&solutions and it was about the time I figured out I was still a quarter of an hour away from home that I began to feel indignant about the issue of bathrooms. This was a perfect autumn day, and I was missing it.
It was all around me, in its horse chestnut glory, but I was having to focus on an ordinary bodily function& what to do about it. I couldn’t spend a penny because there was no one I could think of to take my money.
Now, my issue is easily solved by less cups of tea, or the same amount in smaller mugs...maybe reducing them from blue whale to carp size. But it made me suddenly so indignant about what they are doing to women when it comes to bathrooms.
First of all, and cows aside, I couldn’t have gone in a field if I wanted to. I don’t carry toilet paper about with me like an eccentric, and female anatomy requires it, as well as an amount of undressing that is not easy to remedy quickly if you hear the farmer coming.
Added to which I was on my period (tmi perhaps..but you will live), so the process would have been even more complicated even if I had had toilet rolls and the farmer’s lunchbreak. I’d need a sanitary towel dispenser in a hay bale for a start.
Men like, & should have, proper toilets, b/c it’s nicer, but they don’t need them, at least for that particular function, in the way women do. I’ve seen a man wee in a bottle on the motorway, while the car hits 70 mph, so I know he has the deluxe toileting options.
This, along with the potential for violence that goes with being vulnerable around males, is why safe bathrooms for women&girls are often specifically considered a human right.People with sense know we’re a little more complicated in this regard&therefore need distinct provisions
So when we have such a crucial need,in order to not only participate in public life but enjoy it,the last thing anyone should do is make it harder for us to have access to that. Yet here we are, relentlessly going gender neutral&saying we should have an open door policy for males
It made me think, as I crunched over discarded seed coats, of all the women immediately impacted. Many of them vulnerable, like elderly women, disabled women who don’t think use the disabled loos but still have health issues, traumatised women etc.
It made me think, while cars leapt through puddles beside me, of the young girls trying to hold their water all day,to avoid period taunts from male peers,&the discomfiture of sharing what is a pretty intimate space with males, while they’re in the arduous process of puberty.
I’ve been guilty of thinking of bathrooms as a little matter. At least when compared to the other issues at hand.They’re not though.Women have to expose the part of them males historically often hurt,in order to use the facilities. Albeit behind the world’s least kickproof door.
Doing so in a space where it is only females makes it routine, and unconcerning. Yes, a man could barge his way in, but predators love easy opportunities and being in a place they shouldn’t is not as easy as it gets. Making it easier, then, is not a stellar notion.
We are being told to put aside the reality, and our experiences of, Male violence, ignore our discomforts, and pretend that we have no reasonable expectation of the privacy and dignity that is offered by female only facilities.
We are being asked to let our religious sisters and some of our most vulnerable be put in a position where they can no longer use public loos, and to be ok with it, because we are bad people if we even think about wanting to prioritise them.
If they can’t use the loos, their whole public life will be my walk yesterday. The world will happen around them while they will be dealing with the additional limits being imposed on them and almost constantly trying to solve a problem they shouldn’t have to consider.
We’ve been controlled exactly that way before, a long time ago. Lack of access to suitable facilities is a way of exerting power over women and making their lives and options smaller. Whether that is the driving force or not this time, it has that result.
About ten minutes from home I realised that if a pop up loo block sprang out of nowhere at that very moment, and I walked in to find myself alone with a six foot visibly Male person in a dress, I wouldn’t know what to do. My instinct would be to leave, despite being desperate.
Once upon a time, I might have said their dress was pretty and thought nothing more of it, but I was being absurd. My guard was lowered by the idea that the potential for Male violence somehow suddenly shifts when you put on Chanel number 5.
Women are being compelled to believe that the possibility of Male violence depends on the personal relationship to their identity a male might have. As if that unknowable, private set of thoughts and experiences should govern women more than common sense and instinct.
Predators have already used current policies as a shield. In prison, in shelters&in bathrooms. It exposes the fatal flaw in these ideas.I don’t think women should be put into a vulnerable position that is difficult to run away from&hard to adequately fight back from.
No one can leg it easily from a small space with their knickers round their ankles. I do understand the protestations.The sincere feeling that “I am good &no risk so why would you stop me using women’s loos when it might protect me?”. I know many good Male humans, trans&otherwise
Personal goodness is not a keycard to women’s spaces. It can’t be. Charming men can be predators too. Just because I’d trust certain male people doesn’t give them the right to expect access, nor give me a right to invite them in.
Asking women to sanction individuals is just an exercise in loophole finding. It may not automatically cause damage that person A allows themselves to use that loophole but it doesn’t alter the reasons why the boundary they crossed has to exist in the first place.
Citing the safety of the women’s room as a reason to need access, while demanding that access should be given in a way that undermines the safety of the women’s room, means the reason for demanding access consequentially disappears, along with women’s comfort.
It’s muddle headed at best. It’s also the wrong conversation. Males in male bathrooms have always been there. If they want access to ours, they need more than assertiveness and a guilt trip. If they need a safe alternate space, I’m sure we can all get behind that.
What I can’t get behind is the idea that women are so unimportant, so casually dismissible, that it doesn’t matter if whole swathes of them are put back on the urinary leash. We shouldn’t have to prove we are in mortal danger before we are considered worth listening to.
The fact we can demonstrate that Male violence exists&there *is* a danger makes it additionally imperative that instead of being written off as bigots (the newfangled way of calling women hysterical I guess)we are actually allowed a fair conversation about changes that affect us.
As a final note, Someone linked me a source recently that suggested “People who were transitioning from female-to- male reported problems at a much higher rate than people who were transitioning from male-to-female” when it comes to the bathroom issue.
This is consistent with other information we barely see or talk about, that suggests transmen are at a higher risk of *most* (not all) kinds of violence and harm when compared with their transwomen counterparts. The lack of focus on this is not surprising but it is sad.
It seems that no matter what one does, it is female people who must carry some kind of additional burden, and must have their concerns pushed to the bottom of the pile underneath all of the issues that worry the opposite sex.
Maybe it is time society recognises that forcing women to do things is about as progressive as a sloth on backwards roller skates. It isn’t our job to prioritise the emotional wellbeing of males over the physical safety&access to public life of female human beings.
It isn’t our job to carry all the bags.If we want a fairer society,we could start by simply listening to&respecting women.Perhaps we could begin by seeing them not as impediments to Male desires but as human beings in their own right who don’t only exist for the benefit of others
*disabled women who don’t think they should use. What a time for a typo.

Women with invisible illnesses and mobility issues that don’t neccesitate wheelchairs are going to often be impacted by mixed sex loos, as well.
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