Why have they made only the girls’ toilets gender neutral on campus?
Why not the mens’ too?
Recently the SU made all of their womens’ toilets gender neutral, and this, while being a step forward in gender equality, has actually been quite problematic.
A couple of weeks ago, a group of friends and I went to Medicine, and immediately the girls went to the toilets upstairs, leaving me to wait for them by myself. Straight away a couple of them stumbled back downstairs to inform me that the girls’ toilets were now gender neutral, and I no longer had to be lonely creepy dude waiting by himself for his friends to return. At first, this seemed like a dream come true for a little socially awkward gay guy like me, as this meant that finally, I would be able to part take in all the fun that goes on in the girls’ toilets. And indeed it was fun, with selfies being taken and through-cubicle conversation.
This was not a one-off thing, on the following Wednesday the same group of people and I went on another night out, only, this time, it was the SU instead of Medicine. It was then that I noticed that it had happened again, the downstairs toilets near the Tommy’s entrance is now a gender neutral, and the toilet directly opposite to it remains ‘Boys Only’.
I am all for equality, and at first sight, this seemed like a step in the right direction, but it wasn’t until I sobered up and gave the matter a second thought that this raised a few more questions than it answered. It was pointed out to me, by a few of my girlfriends, that only the girl’s toilets had been gender neutralised whereas the boy’s toilets remain predominantly frequented by males, with the odd drunken girl ‘mistakenly’ wandering in.
My first response to my girlfriends was to say; “Trust me, you do not want to go in the boys’ toilets”. But after realising that there was a real point there I started to give serious thought to the issue. As someone who deems himself pro-equality, this made no sense to me, as how can it be considered equality? Surely equality would have been if all the campus toilets were turned into gender neutral toilets? But the issue here is that only half of the toilets became gender neutral. Not having raised this issue with higher authorities, I started to think why is it that only the girls’ toilets became gender neutral while the boys’ toilets remained untouched. In a male dominated world, how is it equality when we take away the girls’ toilets and make only them gender neutral? Could this be just a small step in the right direction, a starting point? Or could this be an attempt at a quick fix for a problem that seems to be getting a lot of attention lately?
Also consider this: as a boy, there rarely had been any queues when I wanted to use the toilets – we are pretty quick when it comes to getting in, doing our job and getting out. But as someone who’s friends are mostly girls, I am accustomed to hearing about how “the queue was so long that I just gave up”. By taking one of the ‘Girls Only’ toilets and making it gender neutral it could possibly mean even longer queues, as the girls now have to share theirs.
In other words, now boys have double the number of toilets to use as before the change, and the girls still have the same amount of toilets. Only now, they have to share their space with any boys that choose to use the gender neutral toilets. The point I am trying to raise here is to ask: how can we move forward to ensure equality for all genders when we are only making half of our toilets gender neutral? Meanwhile, the other half remains being frequented by only boys, who theoretically need less toilets in the first place.