I haven’t yet weighed in on all the transgender bathroom nonsense that’s been going on, mostly because I’ve been standing with mouth metaphorically agape in disbelief for what is happening in such a short time. We’ve gone from “biological men should never be allowed in a women’s locker rooms” to “if you try to keep a biological man out of a women’s locker room you are a bigot who deserves to be boycotted” in about one year flat.
I don’t really think of myself as excessively prudish, and I’m in favor of the recognition of gay marriage, as long as it’s imposed legislatively. But watching this entire debacle unfold has me once again feeling like an old fuddy-duddy watching the last moorings of society come unhitched.
One thing I think is sorely missing from this debate is any discussion of the proportionality of the proposed response to the “problem” at hand. Let me draw an admittedly extreme analogy to make what I think is an important point.
Let’s take the use of nuclear weapons, for example. When the problem at hand is a recalcitrant Japanese empire that is armed to the teeth and completely unwilling to surrender, the use of nuclear weapons to quickly end a 6-year global conflagration is at least a question about which reasonable minds can disagree.
On the other hand, if someone were to propose the use of nuclear weapons on, say, the entire city of New Orleans as a means of killing a single nutria rat, people would immediately exclaim, “that’s insane! Plus the nutria will probably survive the blast anyway!”
That’s kind of how I feel watching all of this unfold. Again, as a reasonably non-prudish person, I still nonetheless believe that societal rules regarding the limited accepted space for public nudity are at least somewhat important things to preserve. Public locker rooms and restrooms are places where public nudity has become accepted in non-mixed company for a limited purpose. I feel fine getting undressed in the men’s locker room of my gym because everyone is there for that same purpose – changing into and out of workout clothes.
I’d feel 100% less comfortable doing the same thing on Broadway in downtown Nashville. Context matters for these things. We respect that a great deal as a society, as the Erin Andrews verdict clearly shows – we place a great deal of value as a society on our ability to choose when and where our nudity will be exposed to others. And the overwhelming societal preference is and has been for centuries to confine that to non-mixed company and/or to romantic interests.
Now comes a giant groundswell of social justice warriors seeking to throw all that entirely out the window to solve the massive societal problem of less than .1% of the population feeling a little uncomfortable when they take a dump in public. And I guess if Harvard or whoever wants to install a separate genderless bathroom and invite transgendered people to use it, they should knock themselves out, if they have the money and the space. I mean, I’m not going to go in it, but I respect the right of companies to do whatever they want with the real estate they own.
But the response of companies like Target, which is to say, “everyone just use whatever bathroom you want!” is just facially insane and grossly disproportionate to the problem at hand. And yes, as the father of an infant girl it does bother me a lot that when the time comes that my daughter grows up to the point that I will have to send her into the girls restroom by herself (because I am not going to invade the women’s restroom regardless of what Target’s policy is), if I see a grown man following her into the women’s restroom, I can’t really prevent that or even say anything about it. Again, it’s Target’s right to do this, but it’s also my right to not shop there.
I just can’t understand the willingness to put roughly 90% of the population at great discomfort about their personal safety for the sake of less then .1% of the population feeling uncomfortable because the people in the stalls around them… have the same genitalia that they do?
I don’t know. It’s insane, it’s unreasoned, and no one seems to be thinking intelligently about this at all. The only guiding principle the social justice warrior crowd seems to be concerned with at this point is that whatever people want to do with their genitalia, they should be able to do. Regardless of whether that makes people (including women) feel tremendously uncomfortable or not. Meanwhile, though, they’ll read through every line of every movie and book scouring for the slightest hint of anything that perpetuates a phantom “rape culture.”
Stop the world, please, I’d like to get off.