Monday, February 25, 2013

The Gender Room

It has one toilet and one sink. There is no stall and no urinal. The door locks. What makes it a men's room? 

Perhaps the lack of changing table means that it has asserted itself a sense of resentful masculinity? Is it the kind of room that despises even the slim progress of equality that has lead to nurturing fathers, single fathers, and pairs of fathers? Could it disdainfully relegate those duties to the women's room down the hall, no doubt full of frills and lace and things more appropriate for changing a baby?

Does it silently criticize those that don't fit its image of masculinity? Are the business students that pass by too slight for it? Is it upset by my long hair, shocked that a man would walk through the world this way? What would it feel like if I had come in wearing a skirt?

Can it imagine the ill woman, clutching sadly at the locked handle of its sister room? Will it consider the man standing outside its anonymous door, not obviously suggesting its singular nature, and wondering if he passes well enough to go in or if he must find the tucked away gender neutral restroom, laying unadvertised in some other hallway, before his need to go becomes an infection? Would it refuse to serve its purpose if they'd entered? Would it stop its long months, still too newly built to have gone years, of uncommenting silence in order to object?

Does it resent its label? Has it always wished to be some other sort of room? Would it sympathize with those people that have rejected their own societal label? Can it even tell when someone walks inside it what society has labeled them from the moment of their birth?

There is nothing that passes in or out, no person, no substance, no horrific drunken expulsion or clogged overflow that is more degrading, more obscene, more thoroughly revolting than the image it holds no responsibility for. The sign that proclaims something the room can never convey on its own, has no reason to convey, has no need to convey. The glaring fault, terrible only because of all of the things that must be the wrong in the world before that label would exist. Like a scarlet letter, labeling all who enter as under the sway of society's judgement. 

"Men's Room"

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