Bathroom Talk

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.)


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.

An Animal Comparison

The courier man delivered an exciting package from Mighty Ape yesterday 🙂

The first book is Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihi, PhD.

I first became aware of this book during my Gender Studies paper at the beginning of last year. I wanted it back then, but time went by and I forgot all about it. My Sociology paper this semester reminded me about it, and I wasn’t going to let myself forget this time!!

It’s full of great tid bits of information, like how male giraffes prefer the company of other male giraffes, and how male ostriches will put on a much more elaborate mating dance for other male ostriches compared to those they put on for female ostriches.

There’s also an examination of the different types of family groups and coupling that goes on within the animal kingdom. Coupling doesn’t always mean the grouping of two in this instance, there are occurrences of pairs, triads, quads and more throughout the kingdom. There are also many instances of homosexuality, bisexuality, transsexuality, transgender, omnisexuality, non-monosexuality etc.

This is the quote that first piqued my interest:

The scientist gasps and drops the binoculars. A notebook falls from astonished hands. Graduate students mutter in alarm. Nobody wants to be the one to tell the granting agency what they’re seeing.

A female ape wraps her legs around another female, “rubbing her own clitoris against her partner’s while emitting screams of enjoyment.” The researcher explains: It’s a form of greeting behavior. Or reconciliation. Possibly food-exchange behavior. It’s certainly not sex. Not lesbian sex. Not hot lesbian sex.

Six bighorn rams cluster, rubbing, nuzzling and mounting each other. “Aggressosexual behavior,” the biologist explains. A way of establishing dominance.

A zoo penguin approaches another, bowing winsomely. The birds look identical and a zoogoer asks how to tell males and females apart. “We can tell by their behavior,” a researcher explains. “Eric is courting Dora.” A keeper arrives with news: Eric has laid an egg.

Susan McCarthy

The second part of the exciting delivery was my very own copy of Animal Farm by George Orwell. After Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, this is my favourite book.

It’s a fantastic satirical look at Communist Russia, with Stalin and Trotsky being characterized as Napoleon and Snowball the pigs. They lead a revolution against the drunken Mr Jones of Manor Farm. The civilians of Russia are shown as the other farm animals.

If you haven’t read this yet, I strongly advise that you do. You won’t regret it.


All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.

The Lure of the 360

I’m still hanging about, just have had much of my time taken up with Dragon Age II (thanks to J for my birthday), shopping, family gatherings and thinking about doing my set readings for University.

Everything is slowly getting back to normal following the shut down of the university due to the 22 February earthquake, Sociology and History f2f lectures have restarted, and Philosophy has set up lectures via “distance learning”. My Political Science paper doesn’t start back until after the mid-semester break.

And now it’s back to the killing of dragons (and other such evil characters).

Diary Post 2: 18th February 2011

Thought it was about time for another general update 🙂

The wedding date for me and J has now been changed to 27 January 2012, as J’s sister’s husband’s sister (is that sister-in-law? I’m not sure) is having her wedding on 3 February, and having our’s on 2 February wasn’t going to give them much time to travel from up here back down south. Initially we were going to move it to 1 August 2011 to coincide with Imbolc and this date would have been even better in regards of being a tribute to St Brigid. However, it turns out that would be right in the middle of Term 3 for uni, and that just wasn’t practical. So instead of changing the date to the mid-semester holidays in July (and only giving us about 4mths to get organised), it was decided that 27 January would be the date 🙂

With St Brigid being a grain Goddess, having the ceremony around any particular harvest festival is okay, which means Lammas (2 February for the Southern Hemisphere) is still a fine tribute and the new date is still around about the right time of year. It’s all about the intent remember (yay paganism!!).

Now we just need to confirm this date with the celebrant and the venue (both of which we have now found), then it’s all go!!

What else happened this week….

As I mentioned the other day, I got my lip pierced as an early birthday present from J. Seems to be healing pretty well at this stage, though it is slightly annoying only being able to eat food with a fork, or a teaspoon, or by tearing it into tiny bits with my hands. But we’ll get there 🙂

I completed my enrollment for this semester at uni and managed to get a really pretty ID photo for the first time ever, so that’s a bonus 🙂

Yesterday I changed operating systems on my laptop from Windows XP to Ubuntu 10.10 in effort to get my computer to run faster. I was sick of the ridiculously long load times, especially when opening Firefox (though I use Chrome predominately). So far it’s all running well, though I did have some issues with the TweetDeck desktop app taking up far too much of the CPU. So I’m using TweetDeck for Chrome, purely because all the other apps for Linux are shit, to put it bluntly. What I really need is a new laptop, probably the next size up from the HP netbook I have at the moment. Having a 10″ screen is fine if you’re just using it for typing up lecture notes, but for everything else it can be a little annoying.

Today we were supposed to start packing up the flat for the move next weekend, but with all the fluffing around with the laptop (they’re good like that), then forgetting to have lunch which caused my blood sugar levels to get really low and for me to get irrationally angry (particularly with the lack of good Twitter apps for Linux and small screen sizes), time has just run away from me.

That’s all for this rambling diary post today. On Monday I start back at uni for the first semester full of Political Science, Sociology, Modern World History and Philosophy, which will hopefully result in some deep and thoughtful posts in the near future.