Powder Rooms of the Patriarchy


The old boys are under siege in their treehouse.

There must be an election. Conservatives are stoking fear and loathing over the prospect of the first woman president and over their belated discovery that everyone does not fit rigid gender norms.

Donald Trump grows desperate in his misogyny: "[F]rankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card, and the beautiful thing is, women don't like her." Hillary, mind you, is more popular with women than he is. If she were a man, her extensive experience could not be so cavalierly dismissed by a man with none whatsoever.

Meanwhile, right-wing radio host Rick Wiles threatens to piss on the floor of a Target to protest its nondiscriminatory bathroom policy. I have searched in vain for the scriptural passage that says, "Take out thy manhood and make water in Aisle 5." Snopes has to refute a story about cops entering a women's room and arresting a woman someone deemed too mannish. It was all too believable that men with guns would be called into women's rooms to keep "men in dresses" out.

Ted Cruz says trans people should wait to use their bathrooms at home. Is he shilling for an adult diaper company? His absurdly impractical suggestion would create problems where there are none, just to fabricate dangers that can only be allayed by voting for him. Luckily he is far scarier and creepier than the people he is demonizing, who just want to pee. I am more concerned by people not washing their hands.

Liberty Counsel President Anita Staver pledges to bring her Glock to the restroom. The right has always had its vanguard of women holding back the tide. On the other hand, Wonkette defended Clinton on April 29 with an article titled, "Dear Salon, Set Your Dick On Fire And Eat It." This, if perhaps understandable, was a needless provocation.

The bathroom bills appear to be informed by old Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. When even Fox News talking heads call them a solution without a problem, and corporate titans hammer states that rushed the bills through, you know the 'wingers misjudged the moment. They spend too much time in their treehouse.

People who do not fit traditional gender roles have always existed; they were just socially invisible. Women have always had as great a range of talents as men. Why should conservatives get away with sowing rancor just because they want to erase the diversity all around them in hopes of retaining unmerited privilege?

Years ago at a Mautner Project dinner at the Wardman Park Hotel, the men's room had entrances on both sides, making it a convenient shortcut to the lobby. As I stood at a urinal, a group of women dressed to the nines entered and asked if I minded if they came through. "I don't mind if you don't mind," I said, which as far as I recall is the only time I touched myself while speaking to lesbians. They passed through without incident. And this is more than any nondiscrimination ordinance calls for.

I am supposed to feel threatened by the prospect of brazen women and trans folk laying siege to the powder rooms of the patriarchy, but if anything I am relieved. I have used gender-neutral bathrooms at LGBT film festivals without any problems. Granted, I was disappointed to learn that women's rooms weren't the luxe lounges portrayed in old movies like The Women and All About Eve, where you could linger to chat, fix your makeup, and wittily blackmail one another. But what facilities do you expect for your twelve bucks?

We can laugh, but the Pajamahedeen clatter away from behind pseudonyms as they spread gender panic and spew whatever epithets they are calling Hillary this week. If she is as evil as they say, they better hope she doesn't track them down from their IP addresses and GPS devices. But come next year, she will be too busy dealing with the likes of ISIL to worry about amateurs. This November, if we stay awake, the juvenile jousting will fall limp as the final glass ceiling is shattered.

Go ahead, call me names.

This piece originally appeared in the Washington Blade and Bay Windows.