Archive for August 22nd, 2010

One of the things that struck me about this year’s ASA conference was the bizarre attempt to demonstrate how progressive sociologists are by designating some of the restrooms in the Marriott as unisex.  On the surface, this seems like a case of sociologists walking the walk, and a friend of mine even remarked how cool this was when he saw them for the first time, but the execution of this idea was severely lacking.  The main problem was that the restrooms designated as unisex were the women’s restrooms.  On some level this makes sense because the Marriott restrooms featured fully enclosed rooms with toilets rather than the partial walls of a typical bathroom stall.  The men’s rooms, however, featured urinals (as men’s rooms typically do), which would have opened up anybody using them to exposure to the opposite sex.  I assume this is the reason that only women’s rooms were designated as unisex, but by doing this the ASA created a situation in which men could use the men’s restrooms, check themselves out in the mirror, etc. without the potential for this backstage behavior to be seen by women, but women who wanted to use a restroom in the same area could not.  Despite his initial excitement, my friend later admitted that he had not used the unisex restrooms, opting for the nearby men’s rooms instead.  Whether or not many men used the unisex restrooms, the ASA denied women some measure of privacy that it did not deny men.  I guess this is another example of the ASA’s good work.

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