Toilets are deeply problematic for feminists because they reinforce the idea that there are differences between men and women, according to research that cost U.K. taxpayers $53,731.
The aim of the research was to explore and disrupt perceived notions of ‘access’ and ‘identity’ and to find ways of articulating the idea that ‘peeing is political.’
Dr. Jenny Slater of Sheffield Hallam University led the research, which was the only government-funded research Slater has ever performed.
“Thinking around toilets, and their function as material as well as socio-cultural environments, presents an opportunity to think in multi-faceted ways about forms of identity,” says the paper’s abstract. “Toilets often present a stark visual and material enactment of a gender binary (‘Men’s Toilets’, ‘Women’s Toilets’, ‘the Ladies’) in ways that can be problematic for trans, genderqueer, or non-binary people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.”
The researched used “toilet talk,” an “arts- and practice-based approach” to experiment with as a method of investigating issues about toilets of “access” and “identity” in relation to gender and disability. The art will later be displayed at an event targeting urban planners, architects and other city professionals.
The funding was used to create five “research workshops” that took place between April and September of 2015. These workshops engaged in the artistic practice of “reflective storytelling” and “making/creating and performance,” in collaboration with the “queer poetry, art, and theatre collective” Queer of the Unknown andAction for Trans* Health. One other collaboration was arranged with the Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People.
The research was directly funded by a research grant from the U.K. Arts and Humanities Research Council, which has an annual operating budget of $144.85 million.
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