The Penis Problem

One thing I want to suss out in this whole “But what if our women have to use the bathroom with someone who  had a penis?!” hysteria (ha!) is that there are a couple of underlying assumptions we should really ask ourselves if we are okay with. One is pretty basic–do we want a small, secretive group of men meeting outside of the purview of the media and then attempting to enact their agenda on the city using the excuse “But what about the women?!”

I, for one, am not that excite about a secretive group of men plotting behind my back, without my input, and deciding for me and all the rest of the women in Nashville policy that directly affects the women of Nashville. Could the Southern Baptist leaders not appeal to even one of their wives to put their names on that piece of shit editorial to make it look like they had even one woman who was directly concerned about this, instead of continuing to give the impression that they, secretive group of religious men, had decided it would be a problem for women?

And then, what, exactly, is the nature of the problem we cis women would face?

And that leads me in to the second point I have. These religious leaders believe that anyone born with a penis is a man and that men, when given unmediated access to women, will be a danger to those women. Like I said, I often have used the same restrooms as men –cis men, transgender men–and women these leaders would like to classify as men. And I have never once felt in danger from the close proximity of those penises.

And I’m supposed to be the man-hating feminist!

Why do we have to act like it’s a given that anyone with a penis is a danger at all times to anyone who doesn’t have a penis? Why do we have to accept the cultural narrative that all men (meaning in this case “people born with penises”) are monsters? Especially when we all know many, many decent people born with penises?

Why do we continue to let men in power lie to us (they can lie to themselves all they want, I guess) about how vile men are and how the mere possession, therefore, of a penis would taint a woman so irrevocably that she would be a danger to other women?

I think it’s sad that they understand themselves and other bepenised people to be monsters, but I think it’s a tragedy if we just accept that as the truth, unquestioning.

11 thoughts on “The Penis Problem

  1. I don’t think they do think that. I don’t think they do find penises all that dangerous. I think, rather, that they remember how “ZOMG unisex bathrooms!!!1111!!!” helped to defeat the ERA, and they’re hoping the bathroom magic will rub off on them, a little.

  2. Maybe the worry is that women exposed to other penis(s?) will start to realize that they’re not not that dangerous. And the whole “women must be protected from other men” dynamic will fall apart.

    But I doubt there’s that much thinking going on.

  3. Agree. Agree, agree, agree. I don’t know if it was you or somebody else who said this earlier, but it’s always “men in the women’s bathroom” that seems to be the concern, too, not “women in the men’s bathroom.”

  4. For no other reason than my own psychological quirks I do not want to share public bathroom space with men.

    Yes, I’m a Christian, but that has nothing to do with this. I just really have deep-seated issues about bathrooms. I can barely use public bathrooms at all and won’t use bathrooms at friends’ houses except in dire emergency.

    I’d like to believe the shadowy cabal of men was looking out for my neuroses, but I’m betting they aren’t.

  5. I suspect most of them would have problems with women in men’s bathrooms too, but they’re going with the approach they think will get better reception.

    I’d have a little bit of a problem with a unisex bathroom in the office myself, but I imagine I’d get over it the first time I had chilli for lunch.

  6. Oops…

    Forgot to make it perfectly clear that I know my issues are my own mental problems. I would never ask anyone to make or change laws based on catering to my hangups.

    But i am betting these people were raised in environments like mine, leaving them with similar hangups. It’s gotta take balls to encode your lack of coping skills into the law.

  7. I have a unisex bathroom at work. I forget to even think of it as such. I’m pretty sure that none of the three bepenised men in this office are ever of any danger to me and the other non-penis’d person here.

    It took a blog post to make me realize, “Hey wait, they’re talking about me!” Not *me* me, but me-ish.

    Dear Southern Baptist penis’d leaders: I’m cool. Thanks anyway.

  8. I guess I’m guilty of stereotyping, too. Because whenever I think of Southern Baptist bepenised leaders (and believe me, I try to avoid it as much as possible), I understand that they are often fools. And that I, and other nonpenised people, are often more in danger (in assorted forms) from them than we are from regular bepenised folk.


    Dear Southern Baptist penis’d leaders: I’m cool. Thanks anyway.

    Yes, that. Plus: “P.S.: Go feed the hungry and shelter the homeless and comfort the afflicted like the man you profess to follow. He didn’t care who was born with what: he just fixed it so they didn’t suffer.”

  9. Google “schrodinger’s rapist” for an interesting take on whether or not all penises are threatening.

  10. What always gets me about this alarm is… women’s restrooms have stalls. (If they’re not lock-the-door, single-toilet spaces — in which case, there’s only one person at a time in the space, anyway.) It is not possible to see the person in another stall; there’s no way to know whether that person is, or is not, bepenised. What possible difference could it make?

    And, it just occurred to me — most of us grew up with ‘unisex’ bathrooms. Both bepenised and non-bepenised members of a family commonly use the same facilities without being scarred for life; I think we could manage in other areas, too.

    It really does seem a stupid thing to worry about.

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