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Unisex Restrooms & Gender

You need to join me in the "Wayback Machine" now as I take you to 1969 and a college student is applying for a job at a major manufacturer in a college town in Indiana. After name, date of birth, SSN, and other items with check box's there was a line that read "Sex" with check boxes for "Female", "Male", and "Other"..... As a smart ass flower child of the 60's I of course checked the box for "Other" then after completing the job application and looking it over I decided to go back and cross out the word "Other" and wrote in the word "Yes" I didn't get that job even though I was eminently qualified to sweep floors in their factory.

I can speculate that the form was done by a printing company and done with "hand typesetting" and someone re-used some preformed type that included the word "Other" as a choice for 'Sex'. No photo-typesetting, no instant editing, no copy machines. I always wondered why they never had the forms reprinted or if it was a ploy by the company to see how many people would actually check the "Other" box? Also wondered if that was the reason I didn't get the job? LOL

My first encounter with a large public venue unisex restroom for persons of any gender (identity) was an awakening. My plane landed at Narita Airport and we had been trapped in our seats for an hour as we circled the airport waiting to land. JAL had provided copious amounts of various refreshments (free in those days) of which I had partaken with great lust. On landing there was a great urgency to find a restroom. But alas, the first one I came to a woman entered ahead of me and as an ignorant American I of course assumed it was the Women's facility and proceeded to look for the Men's facility. After walking past several other doors that seemed to be restrooms (I couldn't tell because the signage was not "international") I saw a man go through a passage with no door only to discover it was the "showers" .... my urgency was increasing .... in desperation I stopped a man whom I thought might be able to direct me only to discover he only spoke German.... LOL. The only words that came to mind was "Hermanos" and "WC" ... (Spanish and British) The gentleman laughed and pointed to the passage I had earlier decided was the Women's facility and as I looked a Gentleman went through that passage. As I walked in there were men and women inside all using the same facility. At that point the urgency was great enough I didn't care ..... I had to go... now.... after some much needed relief there was a moment of "what the H*** is going on".....  I traveled the world for years after that and of course discovered only in the US is the concept of separation of the sexes the norm. I also discovered that "free public restrooms" are a luxury not afforded in many countries. It's the "pay as you go" plan and make sure you do your business before checking out of your hotel.

In the 1800's in the USA there were thousands of one room school houses built with the proverbial 'Facility' out in back with a moon cut in the door. Just a 3 foot square wood shed over a hole in the ground that all genders used. By the 1920's when my Mother attended the 26th Street school in Marion, Indiana there was still the outhouse but by that time people were more civil and there was one each for "Boys" and "Girls".

Last year on my drive back to California I camped in a recently upgraded US Forest Service campground that had a "two-holer" outhouse and one side marked for Men and the other for Women. I had to laugh as I was the only person camped there and this particular location was some 14 miles down a narrow one lane sand and gravel road and I doubt if anyone really cared. Each side was identical a simple concrete slab over a pit with one stool over each hole..... Each side identical. So why mark them "Men" and "Women"? Or why mark them at all ?? If you are in a primitive campground and there is a small square brown building with a shed type roof and a black pipe sticking out of the roof can't it be safely assumed this a restroom?? Same goes for all the porta potties in use all over the world.... isn't the fact that it looks like porta-pottie, smells like a porta-pottie, enough to let people know what it is without a sign on the door? Is it necessary to have a sign on the door to inform people that a particular porta-pottie is gender neutral?

So I did some research and discovered many Americans are really adamant on separate facilities. Something in our culture has us conditioned that men and women not only 'need' but 'demand' separate facilities. I think back to my friends who came from large family's and all members had to use the one bathroom at the same time in the mornings when everyone had to get ready for school, work, and the day ahead..... gender be damned. Also on a visit back to my University in the 1970's I was fascinated to discover a woman in the "Men's" room dressed in only a towel. How things had changed in the 10 years since I was there. Why are we such prude's?

So I guess I am alone in my thinking.... 'gender really doesn't matter'. Of course I was a part of the Summer of Love in the 1960's and my open mindedness comes in part from exposure to time spent living briefly in a couple of communes. Restrooms are sometimes referred to as "necessary rooms" and as I have discovered in my increasing years the line between 'necessary' and 'urgent' becomes more blurred. So after all is said and done.... Do I even remotely care whom I share the toilet facilities with? male, female, or 'other'?... not even a little bit.....

Don't forget to Read my last major article!  Probably the best I ever wrote.

Written November 23rd, 2013

"One Light at a Time" ~ Intro"One Light at a Time" ~ Intro


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