Dating in a sexually segregated society
[Through the Years: A Gallery of the World's Toilets] "[T]he provision of single-seaters, especially for guests, shows that, when space and money were no object, [the elite] preferred single toilets," wrote study researcher and independent archaeologist Gemma Jansen.
The first gender-segregated public restroom on record was a temporary setup at a Parisian ball in 1739, said Sheila Cavanagh, a sociologist at York University in Canada and author of "Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination" (University of Toronto Press, 2010).
But for the most part, public facilities in Western nations were male-only until the Victorian era, which meant women had to improvise.
Kristen Schilt’s research has covered a broad spectrum, but perhaps her most compelling work comes in the form of shedding light on cultural assumptions about gender and sexuality that normalize and reproduce social inequality.
What can we learn from this larger cultural opposition? Using a content analysis of newspaper discourse, such as statements like, “How do I really know who’s going into the women’s restroom?
” Schilt and Westbrook were able to better understand people’s beliefs about what makes someone a man or a woman.
“When we looked at the sports case compared to the bathroom case, there’s been much more success in quieting cultural fears about transgender people on sports teams, and that’s largely because there are policies in place that require that if transgender people are going to participate on sports teams that are gender segregated, they have to follow very specific rules about what their bodies can look like and what kinds of hormones they have to take,” Schilt said.
According to Schilt and Westbrook, having policies like these puts people who are opposed to incorporating transgender men and women into sex-segregated spaces at ease, but when there is a lack of policies, they tend to become anxious. There are typically transgender rights bills that allow transgender people to not face discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations, which means that they can use the bathroom of their choice, and there’s no criteria for who counts as a transgender person or what you have to do with your body,” Schilt said.Some would even carry a small personal device called a urinette that they could use discretely under their skirts and then pour out, Cavanagh said.