Monday, November 9, 2009

We've moved!

Greetings, loyal readership! You may have noticed some weird things about the blog (for instance, it's blue now?), and I'm finally ready to give you an explanation: I've been slicing and dicing code in preparation for our move off of Blogger.

That's right; our site is moving to www.equalwrites.org. We'll leave this site up for a little bit to make sure that everyone gets this message, but all future posts will be added to the new site. Eventually, anyone who visits this site will be automatically redirected to www.equalwrites.org.

So update your subscriptions! Direct your comments to posts on the new site! Tell your friends!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The conumdrum of gendered bathrooms

by Josh Franklin

The week before break, Brown Hall residents received this email from ODUS:

Dear Brown Hall resident,

Our office has received complaints that male students are using the women's bathrooms in Brown Hall. If you have been using the women's bathroom, showers, etc., please stop. Male students may use men's bathrooms only (and female students, the women's bathroom). Violations will result in disciplinary action.

Thank you,
Dean Herbold

Since then, I've talked to a variety of students about gender and bathroom use in general. Something about single-gender bathrooms has always piqued my interest. While I was using the restroom at the Sexual Assault in Our Schools National Conference, a woman walked in, looked around, gave a startled expression, and started to walk out. A fellow conference attendee at the urinal muttered, "it's just binary gender..." and the half dozen people in the bathroom chuckled. And so, like I often want to do, I located the site of conflict with respect to gendered bathrooms in an illegitimate, culturally defined insistence on a particular form binary gender. Learning to share genderless bathrooms was one step towards a wonderful world free of the oppression of gender.

This year, I reconsidered my ideas about bathroom use when a woman started to use the men's bathroom closest to my room. I was at first taken aback, and the awkwardness didn't subside as much as I would have hoped. Being bothered by a woman in my bathroom didn't agree with my self-image as a gender-immune super-progressive. And upon reflection, it didn't agree with my masculinity either. I don't know how this reaction came to be, since it conflicts so strongly with my previous feelings--maybe it was masculine insecurity, maybe it was a hypersentitization that comes with reading enough feminist blogs.

To be honest, I don't know exactly what to think about the situation of gendered bathrooms. I could idealize all day, but in the end, we're stuck with two bathrooms and a culturally defined system of gender. Moreover, I realize that for other people--including survivors of sexual assault and transpeople--the stakes may be a lot higher than they are for me, an individual who, despite some mild insecurities, enjoys the male privilege of not worrying about my security in a place like the Brown Hall bathroom. So I want to hear what you EW readers think about gendered bathrooms--from the forbidden "co-ed showers" (heterosexism anybody?) to the locks on the women's bathrooms around campus. At the end of the day, it's just a bathroom, but I think that if we talk about it a little, we could start a discussion about gender, oppression, and sexual violence in the intimate aspects of our community's life on campus.

Photo courtesy of samirluther's Flickr Photostream.

Sign up for a Vagina Monologues audition now!

It's my favorite time of the year: the vaginas are coming. Yes, that's right - auditions for The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's famous play, start a week from today, and you can sign up for a time right now by clicking on this link. Auditions will be on November 15, 16 and 18 in the Wilcox Blackbox. No preparation is necessary (the audition will be a cold reading) - you just need to show up 10 minutes early. This year's production will be co-directed by Lydia Dallett '12 and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux '11 and produced by Zoe Goldman '11.

The Vagina Monologues is produced every year as part of V-Day, a global consciousness-raising movement about violence against women and girls, and all of the proceeds from Princeton's play go to benefit Womanspace, a women's shelter in Trenton. But the play itself isn't just about violence - the monologues deal with almost everything vagina-related, from sex and love to menstruation and masturbation to rape, orgasm and birth. Anyone can audition - there is no previous acting experience required - and the cast is always a fun, eclectic group of people. It's also a fairly low time commitment, so don't let a busy schedule stop you from trying out!

As a two-year veteran of the show, coming back to co-direct, I can say with total certainty that this play is one of the best things I have done at Princeton. Not only is it a great way to meet wonderful people, try something new, and talk about interesting and crucial issues, it's just a lot of fun. I met some of my best friends through The Vagina Monologues, and each year the play challenges me in new ways.

I highly encourage everyone to audition - and if acting really isn't up your alley, you can always get involved by stage managing or helping with lights, costumes or publicity. If you have any questions (or want to get involved in another way besides acting) please email Zoe at vmprinceton@gmail.com. We're looking forward to seeing you there!

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.