…. Is what the police acted like when my friends and I used the men’s restroom after getting out of a movie that yielded a high attendance of women. The more women, the more packed the bathroom is going to be; that’s a lesson a person learns quickly after attending an event like this one.
So we saw the enormous line for the women’s restroom, looked at the empty men’s restroom, said “Gender is stupid,” and into the empty bathroom we walked. A few guys were using the urinal and several stalls were open, so we hopped in for a moment of long-awaited relief.
About 30 seconds later, 5 mall cops swarmed the restroom and started *speaking loudly* to us WHILE we were still in the stalls. “There are plenty of stalls next door, ladies!” one cop said. Another: “You can’t be in here!” And yet again: “Oh, so it’s okay to use the men’s restrooms now?!”
And, though we didn’t get arrested or detained—which would have made for a way more awesome story—as I walked out of that bathroom, female bladder and all, I realized just how ridiculous it all was. And I asked myself: “Is there any way I can get these men to understand how silly they’re actually being?”
Sadly, the answer was no.
I was too riled up to engage in any type of controversy in a civilized manner, and I assumed they were too preoccupied with following “the rules” to even try to engage in a conversation with me. People take semester-long classes to learn about the differences between sex and gender—and though I would say I could explain it better than some, I would be darned to say that I could do it to a group of five uniformed men who just kicked me out of a bathroom in a mall at midnight after a busy event.
You do have to pick your battles. And—excruciating though it might be to let it go at the moment—know that every conversation you ARE having is making a difference. I don’t have to put on my “Gender is Stupid” hat everywhere I go. I have to rely on the fact that I am already making a difference in several of my communities.
And maybe, in some crazy case of astronomical collisions, I meet one of those mall cops in another setting, I’ll be sure to have that open discussion in a way that makes positive change.
For now I’ll just have to keep on following my bladder, wherever it may lead me.
Mercedes Katis is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati and also serves the role of WILL Graduate Assistant at the UC Women’s Center. She can be reached at email@example.com