My Google Reader continues to come up with little gems occasionally.
This is it’s latest offering:
– Poly in Pictures
This lead me to this fantastic essay on how images are used to segregate rest rooms. This of course is yet another way society polices and enforces its own construct of gender. (You can see my own thoughts on this subject here.)
GO WHERE? SEX, GENDER, AND TOILETS
Women’s and men’s washrooms: we encounter them nearly every time we venture into public space. To many people the separation of the two, and the signs used to distinguish them, may seem innocuous and necessary. Trans people know that this is not the case, and that public battles have been waged over who is allowed to use which washroom. The segregation of public washrooms is one of the most basic ways that the male-female binary is upheld and reinforced.
Click on picture for yet more gendered toilet signs.
As such, washroom signs are very telling of the way societies construct gender. They identify the male as the universal and the female as the variation. They express expectations of gender performance. And they conflate gender with sex.
I present here for your perusal, a typology and analysis of various washroom signs.
[Editor: After the jump because there are dozens of them… which is why Marissa’s post is so awesome…]
The Universal Male
One of the ideas that supports patriarchy is the notion that a man can be representative of all humanity, or “mankind”, while a woman could only be representative of other women. For example, in politics we see “women’s issues” segregated from everybody issues.
Washroom signs illustrate this idea by depicting the male figure simply, and the female as some kind of elaboration on the male figure. Read the rest here.