It is summer. It is gorgeous outside. I am inside, writing a paper.
I’m not too upset about this. I have been in this position too many times in my (22-year-long) academic career to feel that out of sorts about it. Would I prefer to be doing any number of other things instead of writing 20 pages on the historical background of Jean Piaget, sure. Am I going to cry about it, nope.
Because I already did that during the entire two week long procrastination period.
I figured since power cords restrict me to the indoors, I might as well exercise my right, as a true Torontonian urbanite, to write my paper in a cute hipsteresque coffee shop. (Thank you R Squred!)
After all, I love when the view of my external environment matches my internal state of imprisonment.
All joking aside, this coffee shop is quaint and makes me feel like maybe the world isn’t such a bad place, after all. However, as of late, privileged white feathers have been ruffled. In the last few weeks, more people than I care to think about have been diagnosed with the Big C. Then, social media was caught off-guard by the Stanford Sexual Assault Case. A few days ago the world was rocked by the Orlando Nightclub Shooting. The day after this mass shooting, sections of my University of Toronto campus were experienced a 5-Hour Lockdown because of a potential gunman. And, the day after that my normal bike route from work was closed off due to a fatal car accident.
When I got home and told my roomies about the car accident, they said “More bad news?” My thoughts exactly. It’s hard to give all of these incidents and accidents consistent priority in our minds. Which societal problem do we advocate for first – Rape culture? Homophobia and LGBTQ rights? Gun legislation? Campus security? Traffic safety?
So, basically. I’m sitting here, writing a paper that has no relevance to my degree (see here for a complete list of useless classes I’ve taken) and wondering:
Does this class or this paper really matter? Will I be able to change the world with a 20-page biography? What is it’s importance?
For the time being, it’s importance is 40% of my grade for a course that is required for the conferring of my PhD. And, for the time being, that’s good enough for me. But something really enlightening happened to me just now in this coffee shop.
The Coffee Shop Revelation
I took a break from writing my paper to go to the bathroom. I walked down the sketchy stairs into the basement hallway where the bathrooms were, and I almost walked directly into the men’s room. *GASP*
I automatically retraced my steps and went into the room women’s room. After I closed the door I thought to myself,
Hey, wait a second. The “men’s” room is an individual room. The “women’s” room is an individual room. With the exception of a picture of a man one one door, and a picture of a woman on the other door, the two bathrooms are virtually identical.
In this moment, I was actually upset with myself for leaving the “men’s” room and going into the “women’s” room. The two rooms were the same. Why does it matter which one I use?
As if to confirm my suspicions that it really doesn’t matter which toilet you pee in, someone came down the stairs, tried to open the door to the women’s room, and, upon realizing it was occupied, immediately went into the men’s room. It is my suspicion that this person was a woman, since she tried that room first. But clearly, it didn’t matter to her at all where she went. She just had to go.
I began to think about the big hullabaloo that resulted after the inception of all gender or gender neutral bathrooms. I mean, people were getting really upset. There was an abundance of conversations like this:
And like this:
Kids were pulled out of school because of the transgender bathroom movement in the U.S., there’s wan anti-trans bathroom law and men were encouraged to SHOOT trans women if they were in women’s washrooms!
[Hold on, wouldn’t men need to go into the women’s washrooms to shoot the “culprits”? Should the women then shoot these men? Do we all shoot each other? Ok. Seriously. Let’s get to the bottom of this. Who do we shoot, and who do we allow to pee without being killed?]
The argument: Imagine a creepy looking man, dressed as a woman peering at your wife in her private moment, or a perverted man unzipping and dropping his pants in the middle of the floor and peeing in front of a little girl.
At this point in time, I have to ask myself what type of washrooms are people using? I have never been in a washroom where people have an unobstructed line of vision to others doing their business or where people pee on the floor in front of everyone. Is it common practice for people to just sort of urinate wherever they feel like it? I must have missed something.
So what’s my take on this “issue”? Simply this:
Let’s recap. 50 people (that we know of!!) were killed and 54 people (again, that we know of) were injured this week. We have women (and men) being sexually assaulted. We have people who are sick and need support. We have underdog foundations that need even 1/100th of the publicity that the Kardashian’s get. We have people starving, and people without homes or families. But instead of trying to figure that shit out, we’re getting our panties in a bunch because men are using bathrooms that were arbitrarily made for women, and women are using bathrooms that were arbitrary made for me.
So please. Put your kids back in school so that they can be educated on things that actually matter. Things like how to grow up to be a tolerant, accepting, and decent human being. Things like how minorities (such as LGBTQ persons, women, Muslims and other persons of religious faith, non-white persons, Toronto Maple Leafs fans…) are much more likely to be harassed, victimized, and marginalized than others. Things like how there is a world out there with issues bigger than #FirstWorldProblems.
The coffee shop is closing in 5 minutes. I think I’ll go back downstairs and switch the pictures on the doors of the bathrooms. Men will use the “women’s room” and women will use the “men’s room”. No one will die. No one’s safety will be jeopardized. No one will even know!
… and most importantly, our friends who haven’t decided their gender yet won’t get bladder infections trying to figure out where the hell they can pee in peace.