Phuck the Patriarchy

The other day, in the comments thread about Faith Hill’s Redbook cover, Nightshift asked a good question about why “so many women buy into…the patriarchy.” There are many reasons why women buy into it, from obvious explanations like an oppressive socialization designed to encourage them to buy into it, to less obvious motives like pervasive professional standards that require conformance to it.

And then there’s stuff like this:

A few weeks ago, Khadijah Farmer was eating dinner with her girlfriend after the Manhattan Pride Parade, at a restaurant in the West Village. She got up to go to the bathroom, but was followed in by a bouncer who banged on the stall she was in and told her to get out. Apparently, someone had complained that there was “a man” in the women’s bathroom. The bouncer wouldn’t listen to Farmer’s insistence that she was in the right bathroom, and proceeded to throw her and her girlfriend out of the restaurant… after making them pay the full bill for a meal they hadn’t eaten.

That’s from an excellent post about trans people, discrimination, and bathroom activism, although Khadijah Farmer is not trans. She is a cisgendered (assigned female at birth) woman who was targeted and harassed specifically and only because “her gender expression doesn’t conform to standards of ‘female’.”

Obviously, this is not a problem unique to women, but a risk for anyone who has an atypical gender expression as defined by patriarchal norms. And I don’t really have a whole lot of brilliant insight to add here, nor do I really think any is necessary. I just wanted to point out yet another heinous example of the sort of behavior that keeps way more people desperate to stay in close alignment with those norms than likely would naturally, if individual gender expression weren’t so deeply discouraged.

Advertisements

25 Comments

Filed under 01_shakespeares_sister

25 responses to “Phuck the Patriarchy

  1. I’m boggled by the idea that a bouncer would have that sort of authority in the first place, and if I were with someone who was told to leave before finishing a meal, you can bet your ass I wouldn’t be paying for it.

  2. DBK

    Which restaurant is that? Anyone? I just want to avoid the place.

  3. I don’t know Incertus. If I was being threatened with physical violence, I guess I might.

    I hope they take this place for every dime it’s worth.

  4. So do I, Jeff. I think, though, that all you really have to do is be willing to make a very public scene–raise your voice, make the other people in the establishment uncomfortable, call for the manager, and if they insist on continuing to be assholes, make the call the cops to straighten it all out.

  5. Wow, that is horrible and yet not surprising and even more horrible because it isn’t surprising.

    And it makes the point about conformity very, very well.

  6. Fillyjonk

    I think it’s hard for most men to understand this, but women (and men) buy into the patriarchy because it’s the patriarchy. One of the things it does is hide its own influence and make absurd things seem like common sense. The greatest trick the patriarchy ever pulled is convincing the world it was just some trumped-up PC invention.

  7. Which restaurant is that?

    Caliente Cab Company.

  8. Why are bathrooms assigned genders?

    No, really. Why?

  9. nightshift66

    According to the article, it’s the “Caliente Cab Company on Seventh Avenue South.” To see how many attorneys will attack the victim, read the article. Caliente’s attorney is making it plain he intends to harrass and humiliate the plaintiff to the greatest extent possible. Every attorney is charged with a duty to zealously represent their client, but this behavior should be sanctionable.

  10. Why are bathrooms assigned genders?

    No, really. Why?

    Because this:

    is a 100% effective rape deterrent.

    Duh.

  11. AE

    Tata, no kidding. Women’s bathrooms have stalls. If someone with different equipment is using one of the stalls, why should I care? I can’t see it, and that person cannot see me.
    Maybe it would make sense to have one bathroom with only urinals, and one with only toilets, instead of male/female?

  12. Maybe it would make sense to have one bathroom with only urinals, and one with only toilets, instead of male/female?

    That would be nice for me, given that I have a four-year-old daughter, and she does occasionally need to use the restroom while we’re out. It would be nice to take her into one that didn’t have people standing up.

    Though frankly, given restroom disparities, I don’t know a single man who hasn’t been in a restroom when a woman’s come in seeking a stall that she can actually get to without a ten minute wait.

  13. AE

    Though frankly, given restroom disparities, I don’t know a single man who hasn’t been in a restroom when a woman’s come in seeking a stall that she can actually get to without a ten minute wait.
    Good point. So the bathroom with toilet stalls should be bigger.
    Although, many of the restaurants I frequent have only one bathroom, with a single toilet, for the entire clientele. So extra long waits for everyone! Problem solved.

    I wish Ms. Farmer the best, and hope she takes them for all they’re worth. Sadly, the fact that this kind of thing happens doesn’t surprise me, but that it was the day of the pride parade AND they had a rainbow flag out front? I guess that only means they have no objection to taking gay money, but don’t expect to be treated like you have rights, or something.

  14. nightshift66

    Jeff,
    That has never happened to me personally, but your point that it is common is well taken. There’s been a movement for some time to have twice as many toilets in women’s rooms as in men’s rooms, and it has been effective in the venues where it has been tried.

    I am old enough and ashamed of my body enough that I really don’t want to live to see unisex bathrooms (except, of course, for the small one-hole jobs with locking doors).

  15. Pingback: Feministe » Bathroom Activism

  16. Duh.

    Hmm. A dress on a door isn’t going to stop rape. This is an artificial form of security.

    I’ve been in public places with one bathroom and no stick figures.

  17. Hmm. A dress on a door isn’t going to stop rape.

    Exactly. I was being facetious.

  18. Unisex bathrooms are increasingly the only way to insure incidents like this from continuing.

    The theatre where I work has both gender specific and unisex restrooms in separate buildings.

    It works just fine and the stalls are completely separate with walls that go all the way to floor so there is complete privacy.

    But you should hear the women freak out that they are about to pee near men.

    Oh noes!

    I am glad that genderqueer and transfolks can pee safely at my theatre, this is not true so many places in the world, even here in the liberal Bay Area.

  19. This problem is pretty common. It’s why many butch women have superhuman abilities to “hold it” in public. Shannon at Peter’s Cross Station refers to it as “butch bladder” which I think is perfect.

    My partner almost never uses public restrooms for this reason. And if she must, I have to go and scope it out first. It sucks, but the patriarchy insists that women look and dress a certain way. The problem is not the bathroom, the problem is the insistence that women present in a feminine way. And that there is only one way to be feminine and if you don’t comply you can’t do something as simple as use a public restroom. You change that and we can all continue using the restroom together. Butch/Femme/Trans/Straight/etc.

  20. RachelPhilPa

    I left the following comment on Holly’s post at Feministe (JPlum is another commenter on that article):

    Before I transitioned, I was an avid traveler (by car, I loved driving cross-country) and hiker. I no longer travel or hike, and the bathroom issue is exactly why. Even a two-hour trip to the Delaware Water Gap is too much for me to contemplate.

    JPlum, I like your idea (one bathroom for straight cisgender men, another for everybody else), although I note that gay cisgender men can be as sexist / misogynist as straight ones – witness the “androphile” movement.

    Bathroom issues destroy lives.

    I am fortunate to work in a place where my being a trans woman using the women’s bathroom has not been an issue (at least, nothing more than the occasional confused stare).

  21. Brynn

    I think, though, that all you really have to do is be willing to make a very public scene–raise your voice, make the other people in the establishment uncomfortable, call for the manager, and if they insist on continuing to be assholes, make the call the cops to straighten it all out.

    Incertus, I’m confused…are you saying here that you think the cops will protect the trans person?

  22. Dr. Loveless

    I think it’s hard for most men to understand this, but women (and men) buy into the patriarchy because it’s the patriarchy. One of the things it does is hide its own influence and make absurd things seem like common sense.

    Exactly.

    I was watching Mad Men (new series on AMC) last night. It’s set in a New York ad agency in 1960. The show is gorgeously shot (if you like midcentury design and lounge culture, you’ll be in heaven) but it also puts the racism, sexism, homophobia and antisemitism of the era right out front in all their ugliness. At first I was boggled that the characters — especially the women — could express such attitudes, but then I was looking at them through five decades’ worth of perspective. Pre-Stonewall, pre-Feminine Mystique, without any opposing frame of reference whatsoever, they were as all-pervasive as the cloud of cigarette smoke that smothers virtually every scene. It would have taken a huge intellectual leap for these characters to realize they were being poisoned.

    Re bathrooms: There’s a club in my town where I have to use the women’s room to pee. The reason? The men’s room is too small for a wheelchair. The women’s room is about three times the size, with nice, roomy stalls. I get puzzled looks sometimes when I go in, but I’ve never caught any shit for it — my female friends all tell me that if they used a wheelchair and the bathroom situation were reversed, they’d totally do the same thing.

  23. Brynn

    Pre-Stonewall, pre-Feminine Mystique, without any opposing frame of reference whatsoever,

    Off topic slightly, DL, but that’s when, as a kid, I was trying to figure out what the hell I was!

    With no context to put it in, no terms of reference, no Internet, nobody to even talk to about it, much less words to describe it, it was impossible to understand I was a female-to-male transsexual.

    We are so dependent on the culture we are embedded in.

  24. It would have taken a huge intellectual leap for these characters to realize they were being poisoned. You’ve hit it, Loveless.

    We’re social animals, we’re hard-wired to buy into the power structure, and most people just try to use the tools they’re given instead of figuring out what’s real for themselves. Just one obvious symptom; women using sex instead of doing the reality realignment they’d need to figure out how to enjoy it. It’s pretty much the only freely available lever of power for women, and scads of them go for it. Or, to put it differently, they “buy into the patriarchy.” What else are they supposed to do?

    This is where LGBTs (I’m sorry, but that always makes me think of a sandwich. Could someone PLEASE come up with a better acronym?) — anyway — this is where LGBTs have no choice but to be way ahead of most straights (present Shakesville company excepted, of course!). Anyone who doesn’t buy into the patriarchy has to figure out reality just to be who they are.

    Oh, and, Loveless, you’re not exactly right that they had no context in the 50s. They had quite a bit of context in the 30s, at least for feminism, but then they managed to bury it all. We’re going through a similar period right now. The general consciousness about sexism (although not so much racism and homophobia) is way behind where it was in the mid- to late-70s. You get people like Kos sneering at “women’s” issues, blindness to the political implications of fashions, male and female, lack of concern that house arrest through fear of rape is a crime in itself, and so on and on through hundreds of depressing examples, big and small.

  25. That may seem wonderful nonetheless i’m still not too sure that I like it. At any rate will look far more into it and choose for myself! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s