Gender, Place and Culture Vol. 11, No.

3, September 2004

Genderism and the Bathroom Problem: (re)materialising sexed sites, (re)creating sexed bodies
KATH BROWNE University of Brighton, Brighton, UK

ABSTRACT This article introduces the possibilities of a new term, `genderism', to describe the hostile readings of, and reactions to, gender ambiguous bodies. Genderism is used here to articulate instances of discrimination that are based on the discontinuities between the sex with which an individual identi®es and how others, in a variety of spaces, read their sex. The article suggests that intersections between queer theories, that destabilise the dichotomy of man/woman, and performative geographies, that recognise the (re)formation of space, could facilitate, and indeed necessitate, a consideration of how the illusion of dichotomous sexes is (re)formed at the site of the body (re)constituting men and women in context. Nine women, who participated in a wider research project about non-heterosexual women's lives, spoke of being mistaken for men yet understanding themselves and living as women. Using these narratives the `bathroom problem', where women are read as men in toilets and as a result subjected to abusive and even violent reactions, is examined. These policing behaviours demonstrate the instability of sexed norms as well as how sites can be (re)made `woman only' and simultaneously `women's' bodies (re)produced. The article then examines how women negotiate the policing of sexed spaces such that bodies, sexed sites (toilets) and the location of these sites (nightclubs, service stations) are mutually constituted within sexed regimes of power. In this way the article aims to explore how sexed power relations (re)form the mundane `stuff' of everyday life by examining moments where boundaries of gender difference are overtly (en)forced.

Introduction
Janet: I know that I'm out tomorrow night and I am in the toilets and I am getting verbal abuse off of some ugly girl that has come in and said I pinched her bum or something ¼ Then I forget about, I forget about trying to be strong and not pretending that it bothers me ¼When it comes to it in the situation where you're getting, where they are not letting you use switch cards1 ¼to pay for something, or you're in the
Correspondence: Dr Kath Browne, School of the Environment, University of Brighton, Cockcroft Building, Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 4GJ, UK. E-mail: K.A.Browne@brighton. ac.uk
ISSN 0966±369X print/ISSN 1360±0524 online/04/030331-16 ã 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd DOI: 10.1080/0966369042000258668

22 diaries and six sets of auto-photographs. for example those outlined by Janet in the opening quote. Namaste. They were recruited using snowball sampling (see Browne. 2001). to see what's going on. 2003. disempowering those who do not conform to the binary categories of man/woman. however. can be sites where individuals' bodies are continually policed and (re)placed within sexed categor- . 1996. the formation of sexed space has yet to be fully addressed in these discussions (see also Nelson. Toilets. Genderism. The next section will outline the ¯uid conceptions of gender and sex and performative geographies that understand space as continually (re)created. man/woman as women are read in ways dissonant to these categories. This article argues that a dialogue between recent gender theorisations and performative geographies could offer an opportunity to understand more completely the mutual reformation of sexed bodies and spaces and address the dearth of literature regarding gender disidenti®cation within geographies of gender. to describe the hostile readings of gender ambiguous bodies. Geographies of gender for the most part have assumed male/female and man/ woman binaries. Halberstam. it bothers me then. three coupled interviews. and uses the term genderism to give a name to their experiences. 1996. 1995. 1996). as sites that are separated by the presumed biological distinction between men and women and their different excretionary functions. exclusions and physical violence (Butler. This article introduces the possibilities of a new term. Munt. Aitchison. individual interview) Geographers exploring processes of social exclusion have recognised the importance of cultural understandings that situate people outside taken-forgranted norms (Sibley. (Janet. This facilitates an exploration of the processes through which sexed bodies and spaces are (re)®xed. 2000). cannot be understood within the binaries of male/female. and how others. You know. and address a diverse plethora of issues pertaining to the spatialised sex roles of men and women (exceptions include Cream. Genderism is used here to articulate often unnamed instances of discrimination based on the discontinuities between the sex/gender with which an individual identi®es. This article centralises `women' who are read as men and those who do not identify with either sexed category both of whom confront the necessity of de®ning oneself in relation to dichotomously sexed sites such as toilets (in this case women's toilets). 1997. read their sex/gender.332 K. Brown. This article focuses on nine women who either mentioned or spoke in detail of their experiences of being mistaken for men (see Table 1)4. 1999. 1998. in a variety of spaces. `genderism'. 1995. Browne toilets2 and someone is shouting abuse at you and you see the bouncers3 coming in to have a look. 1999) discussed here is drawn from empirical research which was undertaken in 2000/2001 with 28 nonheterosexual women who live in the South of England to examine their everyday lives. Drawing on these debates the use of the term genderism will then be justi®ed and explained prior to examining the materialities of living between man/woman and particularly the `bathroom problem'. 2000). 1990. 2005) and participated in six focus groups. And there's not much I can do about it. When disturbing the presumed naturalness of the man±masculinity/woman±femininity binary individuals may ®nd themselves subject to abusive comments. male/female. The mundane `stuff' of women's lives (Moss & Dyck. Cresswell. Namaste. Although queer theorisations of gender transgressions have recognised the movements between man/woman. 23 individual interviews.

FG. Destabilising Sexes and Sites Diverse movements between categories of sex (man/woman) and gender (masculinity/femininity) have been identi®ed in gender and queer theory. Intersexed individuals challenge the biological dichotomisation of sex (Cream. by those who are continually subjected to it. individual interview November 2000) D. 1990. ies. while transgender and transsexual individuals contest the `natural' connections between sexed embodiments and sexed lives. individual interview February 2001) AP. in multiple ways. . I (January 2001) AP: auto photography. I (August 2000) AP. 2001). biological sex does not necessarily map onto gender roles. I (September 2000. illustrate the ¯uidity of sexed embodiments where the sex of a body is not necessarily permanent (Mackie. FG. Obviously. FG. 1993. I (January 2001) AP. 1995. Halberstam. 1990). FG. by altering their genitals. 1996) and compared `butch' lesbians to female to male transsexuals (Lee. CI: coupled interview. man/woman or as members of the opposite sex to which they were born or. Morgan. CI. Finally the article will investigate how genderism is negotiated. This is because they live between the categories of male/female. 1987. 1987). I (October 2000) D. D. 2001). Other discussions of non-normative femininities have explored the life stories of women who are mistaken for men (Devor. I (November 2000) AP. FG (December 2000) AP. been associated primarily with `butch' lesbian identities (Feinburg. as has most cogently been argued in relation to drag and the performance of masculinities and femininities (Butler. Participants who described experiences of genderism Name Andie Julie Stevi Nat Pat Janet Nina Angela Jenny Age (years) 20±25 20±25 25±30 20±25 18±20 20±25 18±20 20±25 25±30 Occupation (at the time of the interview) Factory (unskilled manual) Carer (unskilled manual) Volunteer work Retail (unskilled manual) University student University student University student PT university student/ PT employment agency (manual) Education (second level. CI. 2000). discussions destabilise dichotomous sexes and their presumed links to speci®c genders and sexualities (see Butler. I (August 2000. FG. In this way the article seeks to explore how sexed power regimes are materialised through examining the processes that (re)create `women' and `women's spaces'. 1993.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem Table 1. These. Intersexed individuals may exhibit genitals associated with both sexes while transsexual individuals. Hird. `Male roles' played by women have. D: diary. and many other similar. however. D. teaching assistant) Methods 333 AP. FG: focus group. Ainley. 1995. I: interview. I (August 2000) D. Armadiume.

1998. Browne 1998). is related to butch lesbian identities. it is necessary to use these sexed terms. 1987). pp. in that they understand themselves as `women' (Devor. transgendered and intersexed individuals and in different places and at different times they will be read differently (see also Valentine. where women are not readable as female. because there are two vaginas present. Women who are mistaken for men contest the supposed `natural' links between sex and how one's body is read. Considerations of spatialities can further problematise the stability of gender.334 K. masculine/feminine. 205. While there may be occasions where `are you a man?' may equate to `are you a lesbian?' for the purposes of this discussion I wish to partially disentangle sex/gender and sexuality. in order to make sense of their narratives and to stress the problems associated with not ®tting dichotomous sexes. These lesbian identities have rendered invisible a myriad of gender identities and expressions (Halberstam. Munt (1998. 1993). man and woman I am reinforcing and essentialising that which I seek to destabilise. illustrate the impossibility of these puri®ed categories (see also Butler. Consequently. As Butler (1992) suggests resistances may reinforce hegemonic power relations through establishing the very thing we seek to resist (see also Rose. While I wish to contest the boundaries of gender and sex. I also seek to be intelligible and engage with participants' narratives regarding the experiences of transgressing gender dichotomies. my body is read `correctly' as female but my gender causes the problem. They seldom intend to transgress gender borders and boundaries. 2002). 1999. however. I now ®nd myself in complex semiotic paradoxes. when reclaiming lesbian herstories what could be termed transgenderism is often considered lesbianism (Boyd. This is similar to Devor (1987. However. p. 1990). sex and sexuality because gender. Thus. This is exempli®ed in my use of the term `women' to describe the participants in my study. This recourse to biology is apparent when `butch' identities are easily equated with lesbian sexualities retaining the man/woman binary. I use this because it is how the participants understood themselves. They are outside the discursive possibilities of sex/gender but they live in contexts where sex/gender is crucial to their everyday lives. 1998). 2001) contends that women's experiences of being mistaken for men can be understood as homophobia: From my own experience of homophobia in toilets I am painfully aware that being challenged about one's sex is not usually the issue. 9) it may be that by employing terms such as gender. recognising that these are mutually (re)formed. The processes which produce the binary categories of sex and gender thus occur in context. sex and sexuality are not only performed they . 1993). see Feinburg. In this article I am arguing that these individuals move across and between man/woman. p. sex. Thus. original emphasis) Munt (1998) asserts that gender disidenti®cation. a tension exists between challenging the borders of gender and sex and using these terms to enable a discussion of embodied experiences. and through their disruptive (mis)use. Like Butler (1990. For example. hence the question `Are you a man or a woman?' is a displacement of the unutterable `Are you a lesbian?' (Munt. I hope that in using them in this context I also render them unstable and ¯uid. 1±2) who contends that certain `people of the female sex' can be `socially interpreted as suf®ciently masculine to earn them the social status and some of the privileges of men' but nonetheless they identify as female. they (often accidentally) render ¯uid what is contested by transsexed.

1994. Allen. It is contended that sites. In accounting for context it is important to outline brie¯y how concepts of space and place are to be used in this article. 1990. performances. the (re)constitution of places sexes bodies (Bell et al. 1996 p. Moss and Dyck. Monk. is used here. even when threatening. Those who move between man and woman contest naturalised conceptualisations of man and woman (Butler. 1992. Importantly. 1990. 38. socio-spatial power relations (re)form sexed sites and. depending on the public (or private) space occupied' (Namaste. 1994. 1998. Moss and Dyck. socio-spatial relations do not simply differ between places (sites. 1999). Genderism: `playing' power Everyday life can problematise the `playful' image of gender transgressions that is often presented within queer theory (see for example Queen & Schmeil.. 1993. in turn. 1997. 2000. Setting itself alongside these studies. 1999. Performative geographies have begun to explore the materialisation of bodies and spaces (see for example Longhurst. Despite the instability of sexed bodies and sites `men' and `women' are often presumed to be `natural'.. 1999). Genderism offers a related consideration of the (re)making of bodies and spaces through the policing of gender transgressions. 2001. Rose. locales and locations). this article seeks to examine the policing processes that sex bodies and sites (re)forming `women'. women and transgenders differently. 1997). The constitutive processes and relations that form sexed sites and bodies within the ®ctions of man and woman are maintained within powerful regimes (Butler. Namaste (1996) conceptualises this violent policing of space as constitutive of public and private spaces and also the identities and bodies of those doing the policing and those being policed. Genderism articulates how those who transgress the accepted dichotomy of sex are policed recognising the potential pain associated with `playing' with gender norms. Therefore. Rose. Valentine. 1999. and consequently the term `genderism'. Bell et al. 1999. 2001. 1994. 1999. 1993) as well as the normalisation of space within gendered norms that distinguish men and women. Longhurst. 1997). Normative sexed regimes must be regulated in order to maintain this illusion (Butler. 2003). it can be argued that just as place is (re)making (and sexing) us. it is being (re)made (and sexed) (Brown. Thus. Despite theorisations of power as continually (re)made our lives are lived as though entities such as sex exist (Nast & Pile. Nelson. 1994. 1995. ®xed and distinct identities and embodiments. original emphasis). 1997). spatial relations and interactions (re)produce places (Massey. rather than `gender bashing'. Moreover. 1994). However. 2002). locales. 1990. I wish to proceed from the premise that through reiterated performances bodies are materialised and naturalised as either man or woman and gendered cultural codes and norms are reproducedÐa process Butler terms performativity . 1999). Bondi.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem 335 are contextually enacted (Brown.. Violence associated with policing gender norms has been named `gender bashing' `to articulate the ways in which violence affects men. In using the term `genderism' it may appear that I am agreeing with the sex/ gender distinction where gender is the social construction of a biological sex. regions and nations come into being through sociospatial relations and enactments. 2000). The congealing of power geometries that materialises bodies and sites is read here as unstable (Massey. genderist5 processes are not always violent. Hubbard et al. Instead. Massey.

she begins from the premise that public toilets are segregated dichotomously by sex and looks at the provision of these places for women. The moments where boundaries of gender difference are overtly (en)forced can illustrate how sites and bodies are mutually constituted within sexed power regimes. Butler (1993) uses the term `sex' to illustrate the materialisation of sex through enactments and discourses. focus group) For Janet some forms of abuse were related to her and particularly her `masculine' appearance rather than her relationship with another woman6. 1998. In this way. however. but I could not employ the term sexism. the sites of toilets were constantly and consistently problematic. however. supermarkets and at work. differs from these prejudices as it requires a contextual understanding of the spaces between male and female (see Rose. 1998. It's a lot about me as well just because of the amount of shit I get. I wish to contend that genderism and homophobia/heterosexism are different yet related and interlocking forms of discrimination. 2000). where they are these sites can be problematic for those who move between apparently distinct sexed categories. Sexing Toilets: (re)making (embodied) sites and sights of embodiment The site of the bathroom has been given limited attention in discussions of gender transgressions (Halberstam. 2001). (Janet and Lorraine. p. 2000. and also to use the implicit assumptions commonly associated with racism. although recent geographical studies have illustrated the importance of toilets to citizenship and access to public spaces (Cooper et al. Throughout the women's narratives it was often possible to distinguish between discussions of discriminations based on sexuality and those based on gender: Janet: With me anyway it's not about who I am with. highlights that there is hatred and pain associated with maintaining gender norms. draw on stereotypes and are spatialised as well as producing particular spaces and spatial con®gurations (see Sibley. Gregson & Rose. Genderism. I do wish to employ the rhetoric of the `isms'. The `bathroom problem' is where . in the opening quote I highlighted Janet's use of the word `it'. 1995). negative. which are prejudiced. This is partially to validate the claim to prejudice. However. as this is already associated with discrimination between men and women. Browne (Butler. 2001). 74). The women I spoke to did not have a name for their experiences of being mistaken for a man. 1995. So you know going out for a meal and stuff if I need to use the toilets and you know stuff like that I worry about ¼ I know I get shit.336 K. such as restaurants. The naming of these experiences even using a `boring' term such as genderism (see Bornstein. where they are mistaken for men. 1999 for a discussion of spaces of betweenness). Greed (2003) contends that the site of the toilet is not `biologically' or socially designed for women. Munt. Having examined the theoretical understanding of the ¯uidity of sexes and spaces. the italicised ` ``it''s' could be substituted with the term genderism illustrating that this discrimination exists as an often unnamed experience. Moving on from the partial disentanglement of sex and sexuality. 1990.. Kitchin & Law. these connote hierarchies of power. However. Participants spoke of a diversity of sites. sexism and classism. Speci®cally. While this practice of separating public toilets into male/female may not be universal. it is the verbal abuse and violence Janet and other women `get' in toilet spaces that is the subject of the remainder of the article.

transgressing `natural' boundaries through entering strictly de®ned sexed spaces can be traumatic: KB: do you get mistaken for a bloke often? Janet: Like I said to you. In these spaces people are travelling through space and therefore may want to `stabilise some boundaries (gender) as they traverse others' (in this case regional) (Halberstam. KB: Oh my god. Every single day I get. 1996. a perverted man in women's toilets (Douglas. Toilet spaces in heterosexual nightclubs are often perceived as `sacred spaces' where women can be alone to discuss men. boundaries can also be stabilised in spaces where there are heightened (hetero)sexual tensions. I mean I am being serious. in the toilets of the nightclub and motorway service stations7. every single day. Munt (1998. but you know I was wearing a sports bra. 103) contends that by `butch consensus' in the United Kingdom motorway service stations are the `worst places for this kind of abuse'. reapply make-up and generally stylise their bodies for their `frontstage' performance on the dance ¯oor (Goffman. Sibley. a sports bra. I can't use service station toilets. transgresses feminine boundaries. Munt. D'you know? `That's a girl'. And three bouncers came in a chucked me out of the club and I was wearing a sports bra. along with the term `bathroom problem' may be controversial. 1995. Munt (2001. which is now (name of straight club). Janet: I can't use. Yeah I haven't got much up top. 1997). you are so fucking rude'. 1970. Janet is seen as `dirty'. This.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem 337 individuals are challenged in toilet spaces and their gender questioned or they are simply assumed to be `men' in `women's toilets (see Halberstam. I have had old women batter me out of toilets before. p. 1998. 2001) terms the policing of sexed sites such as toilets `abuse'. And you know they don't look at my face or anything they just look at my build and look at my height and look at my haircut and they just instantly assume that I am some dirty man in the women's toilets so. 1998. 1959). And by that time I was just like wearing a sheet around my waist and that was it and they still chucked me out. However. Because of her presence in what is de®ned as female-only spaces. 20). 1998. Despite wearing a signi®er of femaleness. . Cresswell. Lorraine: focus group) Janet. (Janet. p. [KB: okay] It was in my ®rst year it was toga night so I was wearing my bed sheet and a sports bra. 2001). KB: Oh my god. Janet is seen as invading `women's space' and is therefore removed from female toilets. I am usually in there with my Mum and they used to have a go at me and my Mum just used to walk up to them and go `you lot are so just. However. KB: Really? Janet: Yeah not being serious. Janet: I know I can't use the women's toilets. And one of my mates was being sick and so I was in the toilets with her and someone screamed there was a man in the toilets. I can't use public toilets I have been thrown out of (name of straight club).

Geographies of gender have contended that landscapes can re¯ect gendered power and meanings (Bondi. where one border (bodily) is contravened others (man/woman) may be more intensely protected. The reiterated and naturalised sexualisation of toilet spaces is thus revealed. Longhurst. In societies that separate male and female toilets. I was just like `yeah' really pathetic and I just died d'you know what I mean? So erm all in one night! (Stevi. Munt (2001. However. When you `fail' the gender test and are not understood as a woman. and reactions to. What happened? Nina: The ®rst time it was my friends 19th birthday and we went to erm wine bary type place. The physical sexed segregation of bathrooms reproduces the illusion of a natural. in this analysis participant's experiences of. The term `right' implies that Stevi is in the `wrong'. 66) suggests that bodily boundaries which are transgressed through urinating and defecating need to be resealed for public scrutiny. who does not ®t into her conception of feminine norms. This arrangement can be heavily policed: KB: Nina: KB: Have you ever been mistaken for a bloke? Yeah ¼ it has happened to me twice. Crossing boundaries of sex therefore may be even less acceptable in toilet spaces in part because the leakiness of bodies cannot be associated with ¯uid possibilities of sexed bodies. And I was wearing black trousers and a shirt cos you had to be quite smart to get in there. ¼ It was [the] bouncers in this . 1992. ¯owing between sexes may be more threatening. the bathroom problem are centralised. as I actually I was helping her out of the toilet door because she got locked in. rather than focusing on the boundaries of bodies in terms of defecation. 1999). In attempting to (re)make the toilets female-only. p. the woman challenges Stevi. In this situation the woman. in this case the United Kingdom. She is seen as transgressing the male/female divide by being within a female space yet read as male. 1999. 302) argues that within toilet spaces those `who appear feminine are authorized and granted the power (in this small space) to evaluate others'. only two possible sexes are built into these environments. and instead of saying `thank you' she sort of just looked at me horri®ed and said erm `are you in the right toilets?' You know and I was just astonished (pause). biological binary separation of sex and physically (re)places bodies within dichotomous sexes ordering these sites.338 K. 2001) or examining the motivations which cause people to react to certain women in abusive ways. Skeggs (2001. In other words. urine or sexual intercourse (see Leap. I just didn't. it is assumed you are a man. individual interview) Munt (1998) argues that toilets can serve as sites where gender is tested and proved. 102) labels bathrooms `discomfort stations' because women's bodies can be made as `out of place' in the `ladies' bathroom: Stevi: At the end of the meal I went down to go to the loo and this lady said. where bodies are revealed as unstable and porous. Monk. And afterwards you always think of the things you could say. p. Stevi because she was asked if she was in the `right' toilets `failed' the female gender test. Browne Longhurst (2001. (con)tests Stevi's gender. p. con®dent of her taken for granted reading of female.

Those who police toilet spaces (in this case the bouncer) demonstrate the necessity of maintaining this common-sense order through enactments which (re)create sexed bodies (see Cresswell. Michelle and Mary: focus group) Nina describes how she was harassed by a bouncer who read her body and how she dressed as male. The deviation from the norm can reveal the commonplace as produced (Bell et al. Similar to disabling environments. However. this person is gender deviant. And he kicked the door down and said. p. get out. These `real' women are being (re)created as `naturally' existing in these locations through the regulation of `unnatural' bodies. but then the person appears as something actually even more scary. notman (`No. (Halberstam. As these women move across the boundaries and borders of man/woman.' KB: Oh my god. between gender and the body' (Munt. 1994). 1995. the gender-ambiguous bathroom user is also not androgynous or in-between. Through the reiterated and assumed use of female toilets. in these bathroom confrontations. 1998. 2001. 21) Not only is the person not-man or not-woman. Di. `get out. the contestation of gender dichotomies exists as an immediate and dangerous threat to the `sanctity' of female spaces and embodiments. these sites (re)make `women' as such and thus a woman is `occupying space as it occupies her' (Munt. you shouldn't be in here. These deviations from the presumed `natural' order can question the presumed ®xity of sex: Obviously. Everyday spaces can be `disabling environments' for those who do not correspond to presumed gender norms. It is the gender ambiguous woman who is at fault because she is not `readable at a glance'.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem wine bar. 1997). In the `breach-zone between public and private. the irony goes unrecognised. in this really posh wine bar and amm I went to the toilet and he followed me up the stairs and I went to the women's toilet. Cresswell. 125). her presence does not pass unnoticed (see Sibley. the gender-ambiguous person ®rst appears as not-woman (`You are in the wrong bathroom!'). you're a bloke. her body is not `ordinary' in this place. 103). get out. female only spatial relations and interactions are continually materialising and toilets as sexed sites (re)place bodies within the opposition of man/woman. it is the normative constructions of sex that are both built into and enacted in everyday spaces that (re)produce the `abnormal' (Imrie.' spoken in a voice recognised as not-male). 1995. 1997). Consequently. (Nina. However. in this case sexed bodies and sites as constantly becoming female rather than existing as such.. This instability is threatening and consequently intensely but ordinarily policed. . Not-man and not-woman. when bodies `fail' to be (re)placed within the category `woman' the site of toilets as female is rendered unstable. who is also `out of place' in women's toilets. 339 Nina: I went to complain to the management and got like four free drinks so that was but that was the ®rst time. I am not. male/female their existence in woman only sites can result in genderist behaviour and violence (gender bashing) in order to `protect' `real' women. Nina depicts being followed up the stairs and physically removed from toilets by a male bouncer. p. 1996). p.

employed the perceptions of her body to use the men's toilets (see Greed. 1994): KB: how do you feel about that? Angela: I just think its funny now. cos when I was little we went to a theme park with my Mum and Dad there was a massive queue for the ladies. women who do not pass the gender test face discriminatory practices. focus group) Angela. often on a daily basis. the positive aspects of being mistaken for men relied upon the individuals not contesting the male assumptions and `passing' as men. However. It was great at one time though. Here I wish to contend that genderist processes are not simply accepted.' (Jenny and Angela. 2003). Bondi (1992) contends that people are not simply passive victims of their environment. see also Bidwell. In this way assumptions of normative genders remain uncontested yet the women are able to avoid negative experiences. living with women's toilets The bathroom problem¼severely limits their ability to circulate in public spaces and actually brings them into contact with physical violence as a result of having violated a cardinal rule of gender: one must be readable at a glance. Similar to Devor's (1987) study. Browne because this `violation' is untenable within man/woman opposition. (Halberstam. I have been to parties in sports clubs where the hassle of going to the loo and dealing with the abuse is too much and I'll spend the evening pissing in the car park. like out of the door and god knows how long. p. in different ways eluding and confronting genderism and in some cases appropriating male privileges (Devor. 1987. Similarly. Some of the participants evade genderism by not using public toilets. personal e-mail. Stevi drove for over two hours on the motorway needing to use the bathroom but refusing to go through the ordeal of service stations. Emma speaks of `surviving' the toilet problem. 23. see also Bell et al. [Mum/ Dad said] `Angela just go in the men's' and I did I went straight in and into the toilet no questions asked I'm like `hey. (Emma. 2003). Rather than `dealing with the abuse' she uses alternative toilet facilities (the car park). She moved between using social spaces where she knows she can go to the toilet comfortably to spaces where her gender identity was overtly (and rudely) challenged. but other than that I ®nd myself adapting in order to avoid or survive the problem. The women to whom I spoke addressed the policing they experienced. recognising that there is always a longer queue for the women's toilets than for the men's.340 K. my emphasis) Halberstam suggests that `gender deviants' limit their spatialities particularly in terms of public places. Sometimes I'll remove my top so that my breasts will be more obvious in my t-shirt. Public Conveniences? Embodying betweenness. Emma8 discusses avoiding toilet spaces as one of the diverse strategies she uses to deal with the `bathroom problem': Emma: I can generally comfortably go to the loo in the two straight pubs9 that I go to. 1998. Despite the availability of toilets the relations that form these spaces .

Space can thus be seen as multi-faceted. 2002. focus group) . Consequently. `yeah you're fucking straight look at you'. Women who are mistaken for men are not simply passive victims of genderism. Bodily parts are seen as `proof' of one's position as a man or a woman. 2001. It may be a dreaded experience but the necessity of circulating in public space means that women who encounter this form of prejudice can use confrontational strategies challenging those who `misread' them. 2003) Those who challenge Emma refer to her con®dence as the trait which marked her as outside the category `woman'. such as parties. Lorraine: Janet: lot. ¼ She was like. Emma's lack of a `dick' marked her as female. personal e-mail. `I'm not straight. Lorraine: Janet: Stand around the urinals like that (makes a gagging noise). diverse. permanent and unstable. Women who challenge normative assumptions of `woman' and are read as men can look to their bodies in order to (re)place themselves within the category `woman' and thus be intelligible. at this particular time) at the site of her body. Yeah.' I went.' So I need to be meek and pale and then I might be able to pee in comfort! (Emma. I think I might just start using the men's toilets in places I think. Greed. The way women address the constant abuse they face can be related to where bathrooms are located: Janet: In (name of gay club) I have been told by other women to get out of the toilets. When I came out and said I couldn't because I wasn't wearing it just then. This could be due to the perception that while someone can change to be `meek and pale'. going into the cubicle only to hear from a gang of girls doing their make-up `Show us your dick'. Greed & Daniels. see also Bidwell. This is my club' you know [KB: yeah]. while access to toilets is important. potentially contradictory and formed through the interactions of different spatial formations. (Kitchin & Law. She was like. they apologised by saying `Oh we're sorry we thought you were a bloke cos you walked with such con®dence. (Janet and Lorraine.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem 341 may be too much `hassle' particularly in social arenas. one's embodiment as man or woman is ®xed. And you know they were kind of new people in (name of gay club) and they both looked really straight so I instantly went `aah you fucking straight girls get out of this fucking club. 2000). 2003) cultural constraints may prevent the use of these sites (see Aitchison. One of Emma's `favourite' experiences of the bathroom problem was: Emma: ¼ getting into the women's loo. `oh you fucking straight girl'. ¼ She was getting really pissed off cos I wasn't accepting that she was a lesbian. And I was like `aah you fucking straight girl'. But then I'd have to see willies and that might disturb me quite a Yeah (laughter). Here the physical site of the toilet is (re)produced as female through Emma `proving' herself to be female (or at least not male. `get out of the toilets' and I was like.

Throughout this discussion the toilets discussed have been heterosexualised spaces such as service stations. Janet exists between the categories of male and female in that while she may be read as a man she lives as an embodied woman. 103) feels that her body is looked upon as undeserving of occupying this space and thus she exists on the boundary between `not ``worthily'' disabled. 1999. They therefore provide insight into how sexed bodies and spaces are maintained by sexed regimes of power. uses the individualised site of disabled toilets to survey her `butch' body in the fulllength mirrors. they (re)produce. following the argument of this article. Here as a non-heterosexual Janet is in `her space' in the women's toilets of gay clubs and `straight' women are out of place. 1993. free of the scrutiny of other women. Rose. using men's facilities may appear to be a logical solution. The power relations that stabilise the dichotomy of man/woman were termed genderism to name the processes of reinforcing gender norms and the pain associated with existing between woman/man. sexed sites and spaces. nightclubs and pubs. The physicality of body spaces.342 K. but certainly af¯icted'. Whereas Emma talks of using the car park rather than toilets in `straight' bars. this article used performative geographies to extend the spatiality of this argument. at a variety of scales. However. the sites of toilets and broader readings of space as `gay' or `straight' to illustrate the diverse negotiations of multiple spatialities. p. the moments of disjuncture. 1999). the policing within dichotomous gender categories and the negotiation of discriminatory processes are not only spatialised. ungendering. Munt (2001. p. Thus. (Re)Writing Spaces and Bodies: the possibilities of genderism This article sought to bring together recent geographical and gender theories that have theorised the ¯uidity of spaces and illusion of dichotomous sexes (Butler. sites and locations is revealed as unstable and requiring reiteration. The paradoxical position of disabled toilets as both free from scrutiny and uncomfortable in terms of entering and exiting. Browne Where there are only two sexed possibilities in using public conveniences and one is constantly read as male. 102) and. While Munt (1998. Genderism can be de®ned as the discriminatory encounters individuals experience when they are read as the opposite sex than the one they identify with or they are `read' as out of . When one does not neatly `®t' the dichotomy of man/woman. on the other hand. the nexus of bodies. Gregson & Rose. and the repulsion in the face of the possibilities of seeing men's bodies due to the design of male toilets (particularly the presence and use of urinals) (re)places Janet within female toilets. which here she links to sexuality (`straight girls' are feminine). are mutually (re)constituted through sexed regimes of power. However. Janet moves between the spatialities of her body. She argues that these sites exist between male and female and are strangely `ungendered' (2001. Janet clearly feels that gay clubs should be tolerant of gender diversity. 1990. illustrates that women are not passive in their negotiations of gender binaries but neither are they beyond or outside gender regimes. sexed sites (toilets) and the location of these sites (nightclubs. service stations). Munt (2001). Negotiating genderism is contextually based. 2001) and Halberstam (1998) recognised the importance of the site of the bathroom as a space where gender transgressions are often (violently) policed. In particular it was contended that bodies. in the space of gay clubs Janet (above) feels she can challenge the readings of her body.

1997. 1998). Rob Kitchin and the anonymous referees for their comments on earlier versions of this article. Halberstam. the mutual constitution of bodies and spaces within sexed categories. 1990). so often taken for granted. `becoming' a woman. I wish to thank Andrew Church. Thanks go to Cara Aitchison for all her advice. Having introduced the term genderism. p. are not arbitrary or without form (Nast & Pile. but also sexed sites within dichotomous norms. 1998. This article has shown that policing moments of gender transgression (re)constitutes not only sexed bodies. This explanation recognises. These power relations are also written by bodies. as toilets take on the markers of femininity these markers feminise or de-femininise bodies. it could be used to articulate other (often unnamed) discriminations that are based on not conforming to the rigid categorisation of man/woman. Acknowledgements I would like to thank all the women who were involved in this research and particularly the nine women who shared their experiences of `genderism'. male/female. they also illustrate that this can be conscious and re¯exive. encouragement and support. the article con®rms that the form of power relations based on dichotomous sexes writes (sexes) bodies and spaces.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem 343 place in sites that are single sexed. By understanding sexed dichotomies as ®ctions (Butler. Women are not passive victims of the built environment and the policing of sexed spaces. Instead. 1993) recognises that gender transgressions are regularly punished and the power relations which write bodies and spaces can be painful for those who do not conform. and relies on. Butler (1990. The article has focused on women who are mistaken for men and has placed spatialised narratives of `accidental' and painful gender transgressions alongside the more deliberate accounts of `playing' with gender (Queen & Schmeil. can be an agonising struggle to `®t' within particular dichotomies that (re)create everyday spaces and body sites. A number of diverse strategies can be used to contest the discrimination faced in female toilets. Genderist processes then (re)constitute the sites of toilets within cultural conceptions of sex as a ®xed dichotomy of man and woman. Here it has been illustrated that for some. . Thus relations of power. makes these spaces female. These include avoiding particular toilets and/or replacing oneself within the category `woman' (for example. Emma Bidwell. it is possible to examine how sexed spaces come to exist through the continual maintenance and enforcement of gendered norms. There are many more stories of genderism which have yet to be told. Through marking the `abnormal' the `normal' is reinstated and (re)produces bodies within the category `woman'. 409). while performative. by emphasising the absence of a penis). When individuals are challenged in women's toilets these often embarrassing and potentially abusive confrontations. Simultaneously. These processes not only reveal the performative formation of `women'. Darren Smith. along with the taken for granted presence of `normal' women's bodies. In this way the article brought together a feminist understanding of sexed power relations with spatialised conceptualisations of ¯uid queer gender identities.

I believe. Lesbian Lives Conference. Nan Alamilla (1999) The materiality of gender: looking for lesbian bodies in transgender history. pp. responded to a paper I presented in the Women's Studies Network Conference in Belfast 2003. 3. pp. however. Emma (2003) Anything Danny La Rue can do I can do better. pp. Zed Books). 132±146. 3. Journal of Lesbian Studies. `A pub' is a colloquial abbreviation of `public house'. washrooms. References Ainley. Browne Notes 1. Participants use the term `loo' to refer to toilet spaces and particularly toilet cubicles. Their emotive stories are centralised despite their deviation from the original purpose of the doctoral research. 5. Boyd. This article re¯ects these priorities. A switch card is similar to a credit card. Bouncers are the security people who work in nightclubs and bars. Aitchison. Place and Culture. Blackwell). Rosa (1995) What Is She Like? Lesbian identities from the 1950's to the 1990's (London. They are used with permission. 181±191. Brown. Progress in Human Geography. 7. Allen. John (2003) Lost Geographies of Power (Oxford. 5. ordinarily their role is to prevent undesirable individuals and behaviours in the places they work. Cream. is not the focus of the article. This. who lives in Ireland. 8. hand-drying facilities and queues that may not remain with the designated toilet area. Routledge). and because she is being read as a man the implication is that this is not her card. I® (1987) Male daughters. 14±16 February. Gender. Her quotes are from e-mail correspondence and also from a paper she presented in the Lesbian Lives Conference in Dublin 2003 (Bidwell. 31±47. Managing Leisure. Here Janet is referring to when she is not allowed to use this card because it says `Miss'. Bondi. that these women's experiences will resonate beyond these geographical boundaries. Here the term toilet and bathroom will be used interchangeably to refer to toilet cubicles as well as the communal areas of sinks (wash basins). Kath (2003) Negotiations and ®eldworking: friendship and feminist research. where alcohol is sold and consumed on site. 2(2). pp. For nine participants in this study their experiences of genderism are central to their everyday lives and more signi®cant to them than their food practices. 16. People use motorway service stations usually on long car or coach journeys for breaks. women and the rest of us (New York. Terms such as `genderist' are derivatives of genderism. David.344 K. Routledge). 2. Jon. The spaces discussed here re¯ect the geographical speci®city of the sample which was solely taken from three towns and two cities in the South of England. 73±81. Toilets are akin to bathrooms. 157±170. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographers. Bornstein. They usually consist of a shop. Emma. 4. Binnie. Bidwell. 2003). pp. Liz (1992) Gender symbols and urban landscapes. Bell. Micheal (2000) Closet Space: geographies of metaphors from the body to the globe (London. The separation of heterosexism/homophobia and genderism also allows for the possibility of `straight' women experiencing discrimination on the basis of their gender in spite of their sexuality. Armadiume. Kate (1995) Gender Outlaw: on men. Julia. which was to investigate non-heterosexual women's foodscapes. 6. Cara (2000) Women in leisure services: managing the social-cultural nexus of gender equity. similar to the relationship between sexism and sexist. food or to use the restrooms. however. 9. & Valentine. Cassell). . female and disabled. Motorway service stations that are referred to here are those located about every twenty to thirty miles on motorways throughout the United Kingdom. University College Dublin. on occasion a fast-food outlet (such as Burger King or McDonald's) and toilets that are clearly demarcated into male. a restaurant. Gill (1994) All Hyped up and no place to go. These can also be termed bars. 1. Browne. female husbands: gender and sex in an African society (London.

Rob (1996) Disability and the City: international perspectives (London. Faculty of the Built Environment. Feinberg. Mary (1970) Purity and Danger (Penguin. Polity Press). 417±433. Environment and Planning D±Society and Space. University of the West of England.Genderism and the Bathroom Problem 345 Browne. Leap.ca/~hdevor/ HowMany/HowMany. William (1999) Public Sex/ Gay Space (New York. Myra (2000) Gender's nature: intersexuality. Longhurst. pp. pp. pp. Hubbard. 1. in: Judith Butler & Joan Scott (Eds) Feminists Theorize the Political. Penguin). plagues and bodily secretions: a geographical interpretation of metaphors of displacement. Goffman. University of Minnesota Press). Duke University Press). spatialities and subjectivities. 433±452. Routledge). Australian Feminist Studies.html]. Phil. Lee. Julia (1995) Re-solving riddles: the sexed body. Kitchin. 18. 16. 87. Longman). Pamela (2000) Rooms of their own: public toilets and gendered citizens in a New Zealand city. Morgan. pp. in Kay Anderson & Fay Gale (Eds) Cultural Geographies. Monk. pp. ideology and transgression (London. pp. Greed. Janice (1999) Gender in the landscape: expression of power and meaning. 486±501. 27. Douglas. 153±173 (London. Place and Gender (Cambridge. 97± 105. 12±40. Butler. 2. Imrie. Date accessed: 30 January 2002. Plume). Cream. . Routledge). 31±40 (London. Butler. Judith (1992) Contingent foundations: feminism and the question of `Postmodernism'. pp. Malthus. Sexperts and Queers: beyond the lesbian nation. Robin (2001) The socio-spatial construction of inaccessible public toilets. Leslie (1993) Stone Butch Blues (Ithaca NY.uvic. pp. theory and contemporary human geography (London. Tim (1996) In Place/Out of Place: geography. Law. Tracey (2001) Trans(re)lations: lesbian and female to male transsexual accounts of identity. Cooper. Greed. 35±46 (Middlesex. Longhurst. Duncan (2002) Thinking Geographically: space. Routledge). Vera (2001) The trans-sexual citizen: queering sameness and difference. Butler. Urban Studies. forthcoming. Rob. 185±192. Devor. Rob & Law. pp. Annabel. Gillian (2000) Taking Butler elsewhere: performativities. 31. Place and Culture. 3±21 (London. Kath (2005) Snowball sampling: using social networks to research nonheterosexual women. Paul Chapman). Occasional Paper 13. Robyn (1995) The body and geography. Clara & Daniels. Brendan & Fuller. Halberstam. Judith (1990) Gender Trouble (London. pp. Continuum). 24. Doreen (1994) Space. Cresswell. Cresswell. Devor. pp. transsexualism and the `sex'/gender binary. Butler. Judith (1997) The Psychic Life of Power: theories in subjection (Stanford. Mackie. 347±364. Holly (1996) How many sexes? How many genders? When two are not enough UVic Provost's Lecture Address [available at: http://web. Feminist Theory. Women's Studies International Forum. Place and Culture. Bartley. pp. Firebrand). Kitchin. Holly (1987) Gender blending females: women and sometimes men. Architectural Press). Gender. Progress in Human Geography. Isobel (2002) User and provider perspectives on public toilet provision. 1860±1940. Stanford University Press). 330±345. Bristol. Gender. Judith (1998) Female Masculinity (London. Loughborough). 7. Massey. American Behavorial Scientist. Tracy (1993) Butch-femme and the politics of identity. Erving (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (London. in: Gill Valentine & David Bell (Eds) Mapping desire: geographies of sexualities pp. Longhurst. Clara (2003) Inclusive Urban Design: public toilets (Woburn. in: Arlene Stein (Ed) Sisters. Robyn (2001) Bodies: exploring ¯uid boundaries (London. Robyn (1997) Disembodied geographies. International Journal of Social Research Methodology. Tim (1997) Weeds. Robin. Jane & Wood. Columbia University Press). pp. Hird. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Nicky & Rose. 287±298. Gregson. 38. 347±357. Routledge). Routledge). Judith (1993) Bodies that Matter (London.

. 221±240. pp. Munt. Cleis Press). 17. Pamela & Dyck. Rose. in: Heidi Nast & Steve Pile (Eds) Places Through the Body (London. Mitch (2002) Seductions of resistance: power. Leisure Studies. Routledge). (2001) The butch body. Browne Moss. 20. pp. Routledge). 18. 237± 248 Valentine. 331±353. 383±400. 329±351. and legitimating chronic illness: women diagnosed with ME. Gender. 14. David (1995) Geographies of Exclusion (London. Queen. Lawrence (Eds. pp. (1998) Butch and Femme (London. gender. Namaste. Beverley (1999) Matter out of place: visibility and sexualities in leisure spaces. pp. Sibley. Valentine. Gill (1993) Negotiating and managing multiple sexual identities: lesbian time management strategies. 372±397. pp. in: Doreen Massey. 257±259 (Cambridge. Sally R. in: Ruth Holliday & John Hassard (Eds) Contested Bodies. and the regulation of public spaces. Place. politics and a performative style of systems. Munt. Rose. 18. pp. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers. John Allen & Philip Sarre (Eds) Human Geography Today. Heidi & Pile. Antipode. Culture. pp. corporeal space. Sally R. Lise (1999) Bodies (and spaces) do matter: the limits of performativity.) (1997) Pomosexuals: challenging assumptions about gender and sexuality (San Francisco. pp. 6. Carol & Schimel. 213±232. Environment and Planning D±Society and Space. Steve (1998) EverydayPlacesBodies. Nast. 95±106 (London. Gillian (1999) Performing space. pp. Ki (1996) Genderbashing: sexuality. Polity Press). 34. Cassell).346 K. Nelson. Environment and Planning D. Routledge). Isabel (1999) Body. Gill (1999) A corporeal geography of consumption. Environment and Planning D. Skeggs.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.