Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just tell me why: A half-assed rant.

I was discriminated against the other night. In fact, I've been discriminated like this every day of my life. Truth is, I don't entirely care; I'm not interested in 'bucking' the System' so much as 'strongly questioning' it. Very strongly.

So, I bike to work. Naturally I wear regular street clothes for that. No need ruining good work clothes with the commute--especially with summer on its way. When I get to work, I go in through the Associate Entrance, put my things in my locker, then proceed to the other side of the store to change my clothes.

I realized earlier this week that on my way to the bathrooms, as I walk through that lingerie section, women's ready to wear, and whatever that other one is, I must be passing at least two fitting rooms. Like, areas with a dozen fitting rooms each. It occurs to me--those are actually closer, and easier, and more reliable, than the stall in the men's rooms. I have to ask myself--why not hop in a fitting room for a moment and make everything easier?

Well, the other night, after changing back to bike home, I was packing my bag when an lingerie associate came around the corner--
"Excuse me, but did you just come out of the women's fitting rooms?"
.....yes?
"Well, you can't do that."
....why?
"because what if a woman were using one of those rooms??"
.....?
There are many points to make here. First, though, I'll say I'm bad at confrontation; I only rarely express the kind of sass and wit I otherwise display, either from politeness or deference. So I certanily didn't make any of the following points to her in that conversation. But this lady seriously pissed me off, and I can't deny kinda wishing I had.. If I were more motivated, I might even make a real thing of this because, frankly, the issue of gendered bathrooms/fitting rooms is, in my eyes, literally social retardation.


So, what if a woman were back there?

First of all, that's why they invented doors with locks, ma'am. Second of all, she can get over herself.

You do know there's no "womens" on that sign right? It just reads "fitting rooms". Nor does it at all explicitly forbid male customers from entering. For that matter, why doesn't anyone care when women use men's fitting rooms? Oh, hell, how about when women actually go into fitting rooms with a man?

So, really, tell me why we do need gendered fitting rooms? (Of course, these fitting room's aren't gendered, you just think they are because of the department they're attached to, but let's pretend for a moment that you're right and I, as a male of our species, am prohibited from entering.) Why? What have you girls got to hide? are you secretly performing cultish rituals of the vagina? are you giving eachother sensual breast exams? what am I supposedly intruding upon? Why on earth would women need a separate area to change clothes? I'll say it again, lady, y'all can just get over yourselves.

And you do know, by the way, there are actual rooms back there--with little locks on the doors and full length mirrors and even benches inside and space for her and at least 4 or 5 of her friends to do whatever they so desire in that cubicle without having to expose themselves to anyone's public eye--let alone a man! A girl could stay totally inside her fitting room and need never step outside where other people could see her. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's the idea. Assuming everyone's playing fair, there's no reason for anyone to feel ashamed of or uncomfortable about anything because there should be no way for anyone to see anything.

And mind you, I'm gay. Like really gay. Like, I've had dicks up my ass and my dick up other boys' butts. So if, God forbid, I did somehow see tits, it honestly wouldn't affect me at all. It's certainly not why I'm 'sneaking back there', to say the least. (However, if a lesbian were to go back there, why shouldn't women suddenly feel just as uncomfortable as you believe they do with me around?)

However, that shouldn't matter. At all. And, if I actually cared, I'd say it's insulting you even took me aside like that. The mere assumption on either the part of yourself, any woman in the fitting rooms, and really society as a whole that--simply because I'm a man--I intend anything at all untoward and perverse while in this so called "Women's Fitting Area" is, and I mean this quite seriously, sexism. Bare and simple. Even if only just merely implicitly assumed enough to make a woman even slightly uncomfortable by my presence, or as your precautionary concern against that discomfort of hers, it's still sexism.

Thank you for discriminating.


It is, at best, the charming deathgrip of chivalry. Ladies should have their own areas to try on clothing, and gentlemen should not be permitted to intrude--even despite the closed doors and separate cubicles. There are women who get offended when men hold doors for them (for that matter, there are men, too, who find it offensive). Why can't this be as legitimate a cause for indignation? At worst, it is, as I said, a literal retardation in social development, affecting norms and customs. A stale, lingering form of segregation outdated by not only by the direction modernity's heading but it's bare rationalism.

Frankly, I'm against gendered bathrooms for the same reasons (and also due to Ally McBeal).  Heaven help us if anyone heard a woman farting! It's not like we're not all equally subject to biology. Perhaps there's more to that issue than just what I've brought up here, I suppose, but we'll discuss unisex bathrooms another time. Perhaps. As far as I can see, though, it's every bit as indefensible.

Anyways. As I said, and despite what my tone may have conveyed, I don't see myself being or getting terribly passionate about this. It just seems a bit stupid, a bit unfair. I doubt I'd stage demonstrations of civil disobedience over this. Much as I'd like to continue using the fitting rooms and perhaps raise awareness, I'm not really looking to get scolded by every damn manager or associate who takes issue with it. I just want to get to work and do my job.

But really, given all I need is about 20 or 30 seconds to change clothes, why can't I just use the damn fitting room?

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