I'm not a fan of the current trend for men storming women's toilets. Quite a few have been at it lately, in response to the US "Bathroom Bill" which states that people should use the toilet designated for their biological sex. Joey Salads is a You Tuber with over a million subscribers. Two weeks ago, he repeatedly followed women into a public toilet, "dressed as a transgender." His outfit comprised a wig he might have made out of a mop, and a dress that looked like an overall off Dinner Ladies. Bizarrely, he teamed this with a Keith Lemon style wrist bandage, and a combo of flip flops 'n' socks.
"Let's go into some girls' bathrooms and see what they think," says Salads. According to most of the audio, they think he should leave the ladies' room. "I identify as a girl," assures Salads, "I do have a penis but I identify as a girl so I'm allowed in here." "I'm a girl," he says repeatedly, adopting the broken record technique to wear the women down. Finally he backs off: "OK, I'll get out, I'm gonna let you pee," he says, as if bestowing a personal favour on some poor woman's bladder.
Joe Madden writes opinion pieces for The Daily Northwestern. Last week, he penned his opinion in some women's toilets, listening to their "muffled pee streams." "I cannot speak for how these women felt," says Madden, acknowledging this, yet not letting it stop him, "but I do not think that any of them are threatened or unable to pee now that a penis has entered their bathroom."
Madden tells us he smiled at a woman on his way in (not creepy at all) "and I am sure many more have noticed that I am not a woman simply by seeing my beat up vans and hairy legs under the stall door." Ummm... Women have leg hair - and even the times I've passed someone loo roll, I've never made a note of their shoes. For Madden though, this proves the women were happy to have a man in their midst, for, "not one of them has been compelled to ask me to leave."
Madden (or Smugsy Malone, as I call him), fails to take into account the social conditioning - and very real fear - that makes many women unlikely to confront a man in their personal space. The women may have smiled politely and pretended not to mind - but they probably wanted to insert his head in a sanitary bin and leave him to inhale a week's melee of menstrual blood.
Then there's the American Family Association (AFA) which says it's sending men into the women's toilets at clothes shop Target "to test its barriers." This is in response to Target's announcement that its customers can choose which toilet to use, based on how they identify, rather than their biological sex.
There have been claims that the AFA is bluffing, and it's unclear if Salads' video was staged - who knows, maybe Madden fabricated his caper. But taking these escapades at face value, there seems to be scant regard for how women might feel about being followed into toilets.
Given Maria Miller's recent guidelines, which echo Target's, it seems likely that the US trend for men invading women's toilets will be copied in the UK. We're living in an age where there's concern about clapping, so can we consider what a man in the toilets might trigger? Some of these stunts may stem from good intentions, but unless someone's in the wings, ready to pick up the PTSD pieces, the pros do not outweigh the cons, for the women whose private space is being hijacked for high jinks.
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