Thursday, 11 October 2018

A Gentleman In The Ladies


We have been told not to discuss loos. Especially women's loos. It is apparently the height of transphobia and fascism and we are immediately aligned with Donald Trump. Or some fanatical religious right wing group who hate everyone. All of this is utter nonsense to stop us speaking about everyday concerns for women if men are allowed into our loos. 

Here is a blog where women refuse to do what they have been told. They are discussing women's loos. 

The comments below reflect women's concerns about "gender neutral" loos which are a resulting "compromise" to excluding trans women from women's loos. Which we have been told is unkind. 

Women are unhappy. Lots of women are unhappy about this and we are being made to feel guilty for talking about it at work, or in public or in restaurants and bars. But actually ....lots of women don't use a rape crisis centre or a refuge where single sex space and our rights to it are more immediately necessary to defend. But we all use loos. This is what I found when I asked women how they feel about men in their loos. Any men. This is not about trans women. It is about women's experiences of men. Of women's girlhoods. Of their need for the safety of a place where they take down their knickers and change their tampons and sanitary towels. Of the places where women need to be alone sometimes. Of the places where women attend to the functional biological needs of their female bodies. Of the places women most fear to be alone if a man walks in. 

Some of this may shock you. Some of it might make you laugh. Some of it will make you angry. If you are a woman will nod your head a lot. 

So here we are.... women talking about women's loos. And we are NOT ASHAMED....

“I don't believe women are generally comfortable with people who are clearly male- bodied using female facilities. We have single -sex facilities for good reasons”

“I went in to the female toilet at a local college recently & a young man was in there teasing / irritating / harassing (depending on your POV) female students. He wasn't a 'risk' as such. He was just an entitled male enjoying his power. A small but distressing non-incident”

“A transwoman once asked me if he could borrow my lipstick in my local gay bar toilets. I said no, and he loudly accused me of being transphobic”

“Regular experience (male cleaners) tend to receive a brief nod and acknowledgment that they're there.
If other women aren't around or if the "creep" radar pings then I leave instantly.
I was sexually assaulted in a unisex toilet when I was 13 and have never felt safe since”

“I never said anything because a) I was afraid they might turn violent & b) depending on the type I feared they'd be attacked in the men's which would make me feel guilty. But it wouldn't have been my fault, it would have been the violent man”

“They never asked any of us did they? They just walked in and took advantage of us being smaller and conditioned to be "kind". They seem to feel even more entitled than the average man, funnily enough”

“I used to work in IT as a manager and this was back in the days when I believed the propaganda about trans women being oppressed. Part of my team worked on a site where the adjoining building had been closed. There was no ladies toilet in the building still in use so they left access to ladies in the other building for the occasional user, (some shifts there wasn't anyone using it). There was a transwoman working in a different team on shift work who was older than me and a junior grade to me. He would try and engage me in chitchat in the kitchen which I avoided as there was an aggressive edge in his manner to me and he seemed to have a 50s view of womanhood that I didn't share. He was also a foot taller than me and muscular build. When we were both in the office it felt like he would follow me to the ladies when he saw me go and would always try and engage me in conversation in the ladies. I didn't know him, and had no reason to engage at work as when he had a request of my team he was supposed to deal directly with my onsite team. One time he stood so he was physically blocking me from leaving the ladies and forced me to have some inane 'girly' conversation, (about makeup I think) before moving. I knew the building was deserted and it was clear to him I wanted to leave. I was too afraid to try and push past as I was never going to win a physical tussle so I had to pretend and take part in this conversation to fulfil his fantasy of how women talk in the toilets before he moved aside and let me leave. I felt afraid and also furious that I was being forced to *perform* in his fantasy. After that incident I never spent a full day at that office again and always ensured I went to the toilet before visiting so that I didn't have to use the ladies there. It was over 10 years ago, an incident he probably gave no more thought to and an incident that I thought HR would not take seriously and would rebound on me so I didn't report it. It was also an incident that I tried to avoid thinking about when I was being a good little ally as it didn't fit the narrative. In retrospect I'm relieved I didn't realise at the time many trans women retain their penis as the situation would have been even more scary”

"V long time ago. 2 transwomen with their female friends. I looked over, trying to be trying to be friendly (I was very young). One said 'what the fuck you looking at?' He suggested beating me up but was disuaded. He went to prison for murder later."

“The George Bar in Dublin used to have an open policy on men in the toilets. It was all great fun until a woman was brutally raped a few years ago. They stopped men from entering the women's toilets for a few years, but have since bowed to pressure, but have staff present now”

“In June this year at the ferry port in Calais in the early hours.  It was totally empty apart from him and he was between me and the exit and he looked like he was not a particularly nice fellow. V scared. Went back in stall, locked it and got husband to come to door and meet me. He heard that and scarpered. Was v scary experience and if a woman had been there alone I dread to think what might have happened. Port authorities said they’d keep their eye out, but they were swamped in security issues so couldn’t give it priority”

“When I was 13 a man walked in off the street into my all girls school and sat in the toilets.   It took us a while to work out what to do.  We notified a teacher.  When the teacher came he walked very calmly away.”

“I used a mix sex bathroom. 3 men stood right outside my shower cubicle, i could see their feet under the door gap. They then crowded round me right on my shoulder- watching me as i brushed my teeth at the sinks.”

“Local counselling service which deals with drug and alcohol misuse as part of their service has turned their toilets into unisex. The toilets are upstairs which is very quiet. I had to use them today - I was on my own in there and a man who was clearly a substance misuse patient was in there too. I didnt even bother washing my hands - as a DV/A and rape survivor I was deeply uncomfortable.”

“Man at work had just declared himself to be a woman and demanded use of the ladies (no other still blue jeans and grey hoody etc) and a woman voiced that she was not happy sharing the toilet. She was told by managers to use the toilet downstairs in a different office and department. Men's feelings always over women's feelings! Obvs no one else comfortable but legally we have to as far as I understand”
“Working at the (then) Kentish Town Forum in the noughties, I saw a bloke go in the ladies. Followed him in, asked him to leave. He put his hand in my face and ordered me out. None of my business and he was 'gay anyway' he said 'the girls' didn't mind, he said. Not what the faces of the women standing behind him told me. He continued to face me down till my male manager heard the commotion and told him to leave. He then obeyed”

“Ladies' toilet (daytime) on an surface level Tube station. Man with cubicle door unlocked, trousers round ankles. I think tbf he was more alarmed than I was. Still upsetting”

“Unisex toilets in a petrol station; one toilet only which was engaged.  Man exited and looked slightly embarrassed to see me. When I went in I realised why... spent 5 minutes cleaning up after him before I could go to the loo.  Revolting.”

“I went into the Ladies at Gatwick Airport and noticed that the toilet seat was very wet. I then realised it was urine, not water. Not just a few splashes, but well soaked. Took a lot of loo roll to mop it all up and dry the seat. Someone could have sat on that! Disgusting”

“The trans woman who's not quite woman enough to understand long lines at theatre intermission & yelled at us to 'hurry up'.”

“It’s a recent one actually.  My mother who is well in her 70’s  and is a very petite lady told me that on a bus trip to a nearby town, she popped into Greggs (I think).  She went to the Ladies and was shocked to find them to be gender neutral toilets as a large burley male was exiting.  She was too scared to go in.  She said there is absolutely no way she would use toilets where males are allowed in.  She doesn’t know a lot about the GRA although I’m peaking both her and my dad as much as possible. She’s not the most confident person and unlikely to change now, but older ladies need thinking about too, not just these young “woke” lot who think they’re being so inclusive!”

“I was sexually abused as a child by an adult male in a locked toilet & as a teen by an adult male & I was raped twice in a train toilet. I am traumatised by men in toilets, as happened last year when I entered the ladies & a man was urinating in a cubicle with the door open”

“Do I try to give other women eye signals to let them know that a man is in the next cubicle?Do I loiter to let a female know what I know?I feel angry and sick and unsafe.I am a female,I have no right to fear for my safety or the safety of other females it seems”

“I froze when I saw that man in the ladies, I walked out distressed, he came out & I said That's the ladies! he just shrugged. I can accept anyone into women's toilets, as long as they don't have a penis, because for most of my life, penis has mostly been a weapon”

“Was in public loos and felt my neck hairs rise. Up beside me(5ft3) came a big bloke(6ft+). Tbf he slipped in his heels & I said: Rubber bottoms. He turned, thumbs up: Got it. The point is I shouldn't feel like this & he needs a unisex/disabled loo cubicle & respectfully use it.”

“walking home from school across the park with my friend there was this flasher guy outside the public toilets, naked, and trying to get our attention, kind of waving himself around. Of course after that we changed our route and felt scared about the whole thing. I really don't want boundaries removed so that people like him would exploit it and feel able to be inside the toilets too”

“friend of mine had a man put his hand up her skirt when she was in the cinema (aged 11 I think?) Again, the toilet is a safe space to flee to, without any of those worries that women/girls are plagued with about being polite and not upsetting anyone. The guy could have quite easily followed her in if the rules were different :(     “

“I used to work for an LGBT charity -a male member of staff starting calling himself by a female name and over the next few months grew his hair started wearing makeup false nails skirts etc one Saturday I went into the ladies toilets -I was the only woman in there -he just followed me in there and went into the next cubicle -I was so shocked & scared I stayed quiet in the cubicle & just waited until he finally left -I only used the disabled lockable single toilet after that -one of the reasons I left the organisation -other staff would talk about "terfs" openly in the office”

“In my experience of clubbing, the women's toilets were the safe space where women went when the men got grabby, creepily persistent and threatening. I saw several women hiding from violent boyfriends in them”

I was in the queue for the ladies in Selfridges in London and person walked in in a tight white lycra dress, obviously male, hugely tall, square jawed but beautifully turned out if you know what I mean? Little breathy fluttery voice (like John Ozimek, but not him), giggly, just not how women behave in the queue for the loos on their own. Anyway, two Muslim women immediately left, and then I noticed that his enormous erection was clearly visible through his dress, no attempt to hide it, just a kind of belligerent smile. One by one all the women leave (except me, because I'm next and fucking busting, pelvic floor aint what it was) and he just stands there staring at them as they go. Women coming out of the cubicles clock him and leave having just shoved their hands under a tap. Everyone is very aware the whole time of his presence. Like on one of those nature shows where the herd of deer suddenly realises there's a cheetah nearby and every one of them goes into flight mode?

London Metal Exchange dinner. The married client I was with followed me into the ladies, pushed me into a cubicle, sexually assaulted me and demanded a blow job. I managed to push past him and escape. When I told colleagues what had happened they said I was lucky as he was "very attractive".

"happens every bastard day at university. Literally some fucking 8 foot tall rugby type in leggings and a tunic saunters in and everyone leaves"

"I'm already vulnerable through disability. I can't run away, or fight any more. I would feel very wary of where I go and when I go. My disability already constrains me. I would feel even more constrained."

"The ladies' loos were always a safe sanctuary from creepy guys in pubs and clubs. (Also, a huge proportion of miscarriages occur in public toilets. Many girls have to deal with their very first period in public toilets.) We need them to stay female-only!"

"Recently my 12 year old daughter ashen faced came back from toilet at a restaurant saying 'mum there is a man in the cubicle standing up with the door open. ' he didn't care. No one said anything. I DID"

"Was in bookstore women's restroom with young relatives.  TW was leaning forward taking one leg out of fishnet stocking.  Penis was exposed, and tho the top was still on, I could see augmented  breasts hanging down thru the plunging neck line of blouse"

"as a 16yr old girl went to toilets in train station. half undressed when realised a man was looking over and started to climb over. thankfully i was able to pull pants up and run fast. lucky i had friends near by, and man ran off. a lucky escape for me"

"A transwoman joined my local sports club and our mixed sporting group. After walking in on a very upset naked lone woman in the communal showers/changing room - the women just stopped using the facilities. They also cancelled their annual sports weekend."

"I was followed into the womens toilet as an 18 year old by a man, he pushed me into a stall.  luckily a bouncer had seen him follow me"

 "walked into converted unisex toilets. saw urinals, albeit empty. walked out."

Women are being forced to accommodate men in our toilets and changing rooms and we know the risks of that. As you can see here we also know that women's bodies have different needs and that the way men behave in toilets sometimes is not compatible with those bodily needs. We object to being forced to use "gender neutral" loos that erase our single sex space. We object to accommodating males with a penis - however they identify - because we have experienced the violence that comes with male bodies. We object to any change in law that will allow any man who says he is a woman to enter our loos when we know that isn't safe for ourselves or our girls. 

We object to being told we cannot object. 

This is not ALL about toilets. But it is ALSO about toilets.