This book is a mixed bag of intriguing information, interesting insights and postmodernist blather. Thanks to it being a collection we can keep these things in different stalls as it were.
I was happily trundling through the pages when I ran across this article written by Bryan Reynolds, a free range academic from U of C at Irvine. The beginning was quite promising where he discovers the men’s washrooms in the science centre at Harvard have had all the stall doors removed. It happens that they were removed due to the fear of rampant gay sex in the washroom. And now this had become a somewhat less often used facility as far as the shitters went since few people really appreciate publicly defecating (or being in a room where someone else is publicly defecating). But what caught my eye and had me laughing out loud were these few sentences where Reynolds argues that this in fact eroticizes the facility (increasing the impulse to man on man sex).
Each of the six doorless stalls in the men’s room, within which a man must sit in order to defecate into its accommodated toilet, faces a urinal. This spatial relationship encourages a quite unique and provocative voyeuristic occurrence. While one man is situated on the toilet (perhaps holding his penis so that he can urinate while defecating), he is compelled, if for not other reason, since the man urinating is the only animate object within his scope of vision, to watch the backside of the man holding his penus while urinating before him. To refrain from looking at the man urinating would require a deliberate act of avoidance. The combination of the anal stimulation achieved while defecating, the observance of the buttocks of the man urinating, and the various possibilities, tangible as well as imaginative, for the penile stimulation of both parties (such as during the process of urination), along with the homoeroticism already psychologically connected to any men’s room, all make this situation particularly homoerotic.
You know, I have no problem with people having it off in cubicles or in fact, engaging in the mind games Reynolds posits, I just don’t see it as likely.
What I have found more interesting in the past is the heated debate about shared versus separate washrooms. I once made the mistake of involving myself in an online discussion and barring circumcision (and climate change) I don’t think I’ve run across quite such passions. Oddly enough in this book, one of the writers suggests that shared washrooms would help minimize gender differences. I would suggest the opposite; that when you can enter a space without the opposite gender (and oops here come the more than two genders people…) is the time that gender self-awareness can disappear. How can your gender (and this may be a heterosexual argument) not be most prominent when it is contrasting with the other?
If I am in a men’s washroom, I am fairly generic and sexless – if a female comes in, I am suddenly very very male.
BTW, if anyone is looking for what might be a not bad blog devoted to this special room see The Toilet Paper.