March 23, 2006

Criteria you use to choose a bathroom

Hi everyone!

I have a sort of straw poll kind of question for quench. What criteria do you use to choose a bathroom?

The other day, I spent the day studying away in the library. Because I didn't leave the building much, I used the bathrooms here twice. Here is what happened.

  • The first time, I went into the women's bathroom. While I was washing my hands, a woman came in, looked at me, walked out, checked the sign, came back in, scanned me again, looking like she was checking if I was dangerous, and I said "don't worry, I'm on my way out" and she seemed to chillax a little. But, I mean, I didn't mean to make her feel uncomfortable. In fact, I personally feel pretty comfortable in both bathrooms on a personal level. I tend to feel safe - I see myself as pretty big and pretty strong and not in more physical danger in one than in the other. But I believe in women's safety, so I decided that because of what I was wearing today, I wouldn't go into the women's bathroom again.
  • Then, a couple of hours later, I went to the men's bathroom. That was the other option. Someone there informed me that the bathroom was the men's bathroom and asked me what I would think if he used the women's bathroom and could I just give him some privacy bc he felt uncomfortable with me there (he was at the urinal - I've never had someone at the urinal talk to me before).
So, here's the thing. I am fine using either bathroom, but would rather not create awkward situations or make other people uncomfortable. If I'm binding tightly, or if I'm at home out of queer-filled MA, I always use the men's bathroom because I pass pretty well, but I don't always bind because it hurts and I'm lazy, and I don't pass in MA without binding the way I do where I'm from.

So, given that I'm comfortable with either, what criteria should I use to decide which one to use in order to not make others feel awkward? I especially don't like to make anyone feel unsafe. What criteria do you use?

Things I have thought of (examples of criteria I use):

  • current haircut
  • time of day
  • clothing
  • binding/not binding
  • whether I'm with a friend
  • location of urinals relative to stalls, etc.

What other factors do people use or recommend?

Even if you're someone who doesn't usually get questioned in the bathroom, what kinds of things make you more or less comfortable in terms of other people in "your" bathroom?


calypso said...

I definitely don't use men's bathrooms when there are men AT the urinals. Cuz I don't want to see their junk.

My basic criteria is: use the one with less people in it. Convenient, fewer people to offend, etc.

narcissusfemme said...

Oh man. I've had so many bathroom experiences lately, it makes me wanna hurl.

As a general rule, I just don't use them if I haven't scoped them out. I was suffering from a spontaneous nosebleed in Robinson the other night and had to go in for the first time, resulting in the classic woman coming in, seeing me, heading out, heading back in again...

I never go in men's bathrooms cause I don't identify as male, and I don't bind or anything so I think Close inspection usually reveals me to be female.

But I simply don't go in the science center unless it's an emergency. I also tend to avoid Lamont and Loker.

emily2 said...

honestly, if i have to go, i have to go. i don't care what bathroom i go into if soiling my pants is the other option.

actually, i quite regularly bypass the women's room line if it's too long and just hop into the boy's room.

i am female, and i look like your run of the mill female, but i have absolutely no problem going into the guy's room. if i get annoyed stares, so be it. i have to pee, and i don't feel like waiting in line, especially if i have to make it to work/class/the train.

i did this in the middle of one mock trial last year, and my litigation partner, a male, was so annoyed at me. he was at the urinal, and i sauntered right into an adjoining stall. but i sure as hell wasn't going to walk downstairs if there was an available toilet right there! and i had five minutes to prepare for my oral argument. screw propriety!

[btw... thanks for posting today guys... i'm so bored at work. keep posting. i have seven more hours. ugh...]

Anonymous said...

Interesting question, especially since I made a page about "line-jumping" that'll be in an upcoming issues of the paper 'zine.

On the whole, I usually use the ladies' room when they're equally convenient. But when there's a line, or an occupied single-user ladies' room and nobody in the gents', I'll go into the men's room. Usually, I'm most likely to do this when it's single-user: nobody to walk in on, less chance of offending, and really, why does a single-user restroom *need* to be gendered? For me, it's part convenience, part the fact that I'm little and cute and can get away with a lot, and part my effort to get people used to seeing people whom they wouldn't necessarily expect coming out of the men's room. Call it cheeky grassroots advocacy. ;c)

As far as who I would/wouldn't want to see in the women's room, I think the biggest thing is sketchiness. If the person walks in and doesn't use the toilets/sink/mirror/etc., I'd of course wonder what they were doing there. If they approached me in a skeevy or threatening manner, then my cell phone would be out in a heartbeat. But if someone's clearly just in there to pee, it's really none of my business. (This goes regardless of gender - if there were a skeevy woman-looking person in the ladies', I'd still have a problem.)

- M.E. (having sign-in issues)

Trope said...

Hm. I think I'm with M.E.; I'm female and generally am not threatened by a male-looking person unless they were staring at me oddly. I feel most uncomfortable when people talk to me in the bathroom; I'm there for a reason, not to make conversation.

Thinking more, I would be uncomfortable if I saw a man I knew sharing my bathroom, because then I would feel compelled to say, "Xxxx, what are you doing here?" and asking that would probably make him stressed. The older I get, the more I love single-seat bathrooms, and tend to choose them whenever possible... I would never get challenged in a bathroom, but I like the privacy.