The popular reboot of the science fiction television series Battlestar Galactica directly opposed a lot of cultural norms we take for granted. We don’t question gender segregated bathrooms, dorm rooms, or barracks. Recently there’s been a push for gender neutral bathrooms, and dorm rooms at universities. However, no one is arguing that all people should share one gender neutral restroom. Mainly because no one is sure how that would work.
I imagine the most common argument against gender neutral bathrooms would be that urinals are too exposed. Men wouldn’t be able to take a wiz if women were primping at the mirrors. Maybe the “sacred culture” of the female restroom would be jeopardized: women would be concerned about what men would overhear from the stalls. Perhaps women would by shy about the ridiculous noise their feminine products make when being removed from the wrapper (a valid concern, to be sure.) But I think the biggest concern is that people would hesitate to take a dump with the knowledge that someone of a different gender might be a stall over.
Battlestar Galactica is a hard science fiction television show that chronicles the journey of a spaceship fleet. The fleet, composed of a random assortment of passenger vessels, is all that is left of humanity after the Cylons (man created robots) stage a total genocide on the twelve planets humans inhabited. The commanding ship is the Battlestar Galactica: a large military vessel responsible for defending the last shreds of humanity.
In case you’re not already aware, the universe of Battlestar Galactica has total gender equality. While the television series has a serious lack of LGBTQA characters, it does phenomenal job making males and females equal. Both men and women use the same restrooms, live in shared barracks, and hold positions of power based on their abilities rather than their sex. The president of the twelve colonies is a woman, the admiral of Battlestar Pegasus (a second military ship that comes into play in later seasons) is a woman, and the admiral of Battlestar Galactica is a man. The lead characters of the show are divided 50/50 between men and women. This is a utopia of male/female equality, planting the idea that total equality only comes from complete desegregation.
It would be immeasurably beneficial to our society to make all restrooms gender neutral. The transition physically would be simple: stalls could be placed around at least some urinals, and that would be it. Socially the change would feel like dragging the entire population through mud, I know. But for a moment let’s imagine the end product, the result after years of adaptation.
The result, is bathrooms on Battlestar Galactica.
Men and women on the Battlestar Galactica brush their teeth side by side, share the restroom stalls, and are entirely natural while doing it. This leads viewers to believe all restrooms in this society are gender neutral, and it never causes any problems.
A couple years ago I went to an event where there was a gender neutral restroom. Drag queens and kings and people of any gender shared the stalls, urinals, and sinks. I will admit that at first I was apprehensive: I was used to the “normal” segregated restrooms. However, once I went into the restroom any qualms I had vanished. It felt completely the same. Additionally, I was glad that anyone who felt uncomfortable with segregated restrooms could be at ease in a restroom that was open to anyone.
Segregation is the time told method of keeping two groups of people feeling like they are different. We are all human, and we all have the same bodily functions. Whether our urine comes from a penis or not shouldn’t matter. And besides, more and more people are realizing that they do not conform to “traditional” gender norms. Many people are crying out for restrooms to be different because they are uncomfortable with the male/female restrooms we have now. This would not be a problem if all restrooms were gender neutral. We could stop arguing on how to accommodate the spectrum of genders when it comes to labeling bathrooms.
Furthermore, gender neutral restrooms would ingrain the idea on a baseline level that all genders are equal. It would be extremely beneficial to the movement to end gender inequality. “Separate but equal” has always been an obvious sign of two groups being too different to interact. And Battlestar Galactica has shown us that not only are people capable of using gender neutral bathrooms, but that it’s really not a big deal.