Friday, May 19, 2006


Politics of Toilets

Perth Indymedia reports Genderfuck Day.
Genderfuck Day is this Thursday, the 18th of May. The purpose of Genderfuck Day is to promote awareness of Gender diversity in our community. This Thursday we will be having street Theatre and etc in Forrest Chase from 4:30pm, before we move to the Black Dove - for the Genderfuck Ball ...To Genderfuck is to deliberately send mixed messages about ones sex, usually through dress.

The basic purpose of Genderfuck Day is to raise discussion and awareness surrounding Gender, Intersex and Trans issues. Most importantly it is to educate individuals of the sheer complexity of what gender can mean from one person to the next. gF is a day of action that deal s with some tough, challenging and confronting concepts surrounding gender. When you add cultural implications of what gender can be and start deconstructing gender binaries, things start to get really interesting.

The original developers of the idea have provided a basic format for people to follow if they wish, encouraging people to provide Pan (non-gender specific) Toilets, hold forums and sell pink and blue ribbons. Pan Toilets allow us to say, 'Nup, I don't have a gender or (sex)', I mean what are those categories of man and woman good for anyway? They limit our choices, and stereotype people. Bah!'
What are those categories of man and woman good for? If you are a woman, try sitting down on a urinal. Trust me, the "gender binaries" can yield useful categories from time to time if you don't like a wet back.

This discussion seems to be common in Australia. A Google search for "Pan Toilet" led me to a page at Melbourne University (Google Cache here) which notes:

There has been a proposal to introduce pan toilets in the University. Pan toilets are a toilet space which allow anyone to use them, regardless of how they identify. They come as a means of responding to the very specific ways in which toilet spaces are constructed by gender, and serve as a space where anyone can feel safe and not be forced to identify either as a man or a woman.
If one feels unsafe in a public toilet, I'm not sure this is the solution.
Toilet spaces are often highly policed - “hey, you don’t look like a woman, so get out or I’ll call security” – and so a pan toilet would provide a space where that would not happen.

The proposal as it stands is highly specific, and has come from a particular collective. The wom*n’s department supports the introduction of pan toilets. This means that we are actively working towards having pan toilets installed on the university campus.
The wom*n’s department wants to involve any groups who for cultural, ethnic, religious, gender-based, accessibility or sexual reasons have concerns about the way toilets are constructed.
Call me traditional, but what the hell is a wom*n anyway, and what other cultural or sexual problems might one encounter in toilet construction?

One cultural problem is that some religious groups do not like toilets to face east. When buildings are renovated, this can often be accomodated at not unreasonable cost.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? .