The brouhaha over Hillary Clinton's bathroom break during the third Democratic debate in December 2015 brings together two interrelated themes: the obstacles surrounding women's access to bathrooms and the broader cultural discomfort with elimination that makes inequities in access difficult to address. This article first describes some of the ways that public toilets perpetuate the subordination of women within a framework in which everyone must identify either as a woman or a man. Public bathrooms help socialize women into acceptance of inferiority while constantly communicating to transgender people their outsiderness and difference. Such discrimination is difficult to remedy because the topic of toilets makes many people embarrassed and uncomfortable, and human waste, especially feces, engenders strong feelings of disgust. Thinking through and implementing adequate toilet provision for everyone thus necessarily entails rethinking attitudes toward elimination as an aspect of our embodiment.
Figures & Tablescontents
Figures & Tables
The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History.
“Dirty Spaces: Communication and Contamination in Men's Public Toilets.”
Journal of International Women's Studies
“From Rights to Radical: A Restroom's Mirror in the Israeli Accessibility Law.”
Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Disability Studies,
“Meanwhile Backstage: Public Bathrooms and the Interactive Order.”
New Haven, CT,
“Biology Doesn't Write Laws: Hillary Clinton's Bathroom Break Wasn't as Trivial as Some Might Like to Think.”
Huffington Post (blog),
Duke University Press.
Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment.
The Anatomy of Disgust.
Harvard University Press.
Transgender Law Center
Peeing in Peace: A Resource Guide for Transgender Activists and Allies.
Transgender Law Center. transgenderlawcenter.org/issues/public-accommodations/peeing-in-peace.