I was talking to my boyfriend the other day about this and he was telling me how in Parisian public pools, the showers and changing rooms were crazy cruising grounds about a decade ago. Turn around and see a pair of guys going at it in any direction sort of thing. In his words, "C'était le bordel" ("It was a crazy mess/whorehouse" - the word has both meanings in French and it's hard to know which is meant when).
The French lag behind Americans on almost every exercise of dictatorial authority except for surveillance. We've got nothing on them there - they were devising 24-hour schedules for prisoners when we were still just running them out of town. They're experts on the subject.
Anyway, in their infinite wisdom, they decided to simply make the showers and changing rooms one big unisex party. The public sex has almost completely stopped, people don't even get naked for showers, and that was that. At least according to the oral history I've heard here from gay men.
So I'm thinking about this when I read Waymon's post this weekend about the scare-mongering the Religious RIght uses to prevent non-discrimination legislation to protect gender identity. These folks get held up on the bathroom issue because they think it's a winning argument.
But they seem to take the nudity of these spaces for granted, especially when it comes the shower room. No one can possibly take a shower in a swimsuit or install private stalls - it has to be one big, happy, naked shower party for the Religious Right to be satisfied. Public restrooms? If there are urinals where one can cop a glance of the cock one stall over, what's the point of going to the bathroom?
I'm not saying that the entire Religious Right fantasizes about public gay orgies, but I'm trying to think of a reason to keep the binary sexes separated in public showers and bathrooms that doesn't eventually lead to public sex. Men who want to do women harm in the bathroom can just as easily enter a women's room, wearing pretty much anything, no matter what non-discrimination the local government has enacted - that little stick figure on the door doesn't have a laser ray to zap anyone who isn't vaginal enough to enter.
Unisex public bathrooms would just make that space like any other public space - behave yourself in front of everyone or don't go there. There will always be people who want to do harm to others, but there's no proof that gender segregation stops anything.
This is a lot like how pretty much every single-gender space eventually gets homo- and hetero-eroticized (gym showers, team sports, prison, Turkish hammams, Ricky Martin's estate), and I have to wonder if the men who oppose unisex bathrooms on the right aren't just advocating men-only spaces because they'd miss the manly nudity and manly intimacy of yesterday.
To them, I say, get a room. If you're a man who wants to protect the public shower party, then have one in your house and invite all the boys with big cocks that you know. If there are women who want to do the same, well, the same thing applies. And if you're a man who likes to think about women in those situations (the biggest group here), then buy a video.
Because if the hot and heavy single gender bathrooms exclude trans-folk who need to use them, it's just not worth it.
Whoa... have to talk myself down. But, seriously, why do people who want to protect single-sex bathrooms go insane about what's today almost non-existent bathroom sex among men? Are the bothered by the latter because they know that they're one step away from doing it, and they're bothered by the former because they want to keep their options open?
Seriously, women in the bathroom would shut that shit down. I'm not saying that there aren't women who'd want to engage in that sort of thing (I'm sure there are, albeit fewer), but it would change the spirit of public restrooms from an intimate space to just an extension of a lobby, a park, or a platform. Do we really think Larry Craig would have been cruising in a space where both women and men were standing around and chatting?
And people who don't feel comfortable in all women's or all men's spaces would have a place to perform a biologically necessary function.
Everyone should be happy then, right? I mean, except for those people who like public bathroom sex.
(Just to be clear: I don't think that the government should set up sting operations or imprison or humiliate people who engage in public sex. I'm just saying that the ability for everyone to use bathrooms outweighs, and I'm also wondering why the same people seem to get upset by both.)