thinking outside the cubicle
Only last week, I entered a women's bathroom a blubbering mess.
Ten minutes later, I strutted out that same bathroom dignified, confident, and proud. I exited that same bathroom, Alex. This new surge of self-empowerment was all due to the complete strangers who coaxed me back to life outside those cubicles, one mascara-soaked tissue dab at a time.
And it got me thinking.
Try and imagine a society where womxn treated each other the way they do in bathrooms, but all the time.
Truth be told, I can’t. I want to, but I can’t. Not now. Not yet; not until so much more has been done to make all womxn equals in today’s society.
I have never felt more like Beyoncé than the moments I have been standing *cough* swaying in six inch heels, girlfriends like a chorus of back-up dancers to my left and to my right, delivering a three minute, overly hand-gestured, poetically slurred speech to a disheartened young girl I met, say, four and a half minutes ago in the line. And, honestly, I’ve never felt more comforted than when I have stood, nodding furiously, on the receiving end of those sermons.
We’ve all been there. Haven’t we? We’ve all been on both sides at some point in our lives. I’ve lost track of the nights I’ve tended to the hurting, the howling, and the down-right heartbroken in nightclub bathrooms. Too many times have I crowned 2 AM acquaintances as the queens they are whilst generic stranger B bursts out from the next cubicle, taking the mic to preach the inadequacy of whoever has caused those late-night tears. No matter who/what/how big the situation is, there is always one constant.
They listen, and they learn.
Even if it’s just for the night, even if it’s just for the hour; even if all they remember are the fuzzy words they heard between hand-dryer blasts for those five tipsy minutes you existed in their lives.
So, why is it that wholehearted women's empowerment seems to be the vampire of the 21st century? Why is my intimate life advice to a complete stranger welcomed willingly and met with a spontaneous Instagram follow in a nightclub’s public toilet, yet, in daylight (and god forbid, out in the general public) would be considered, well, just a bit odd?
I really do think it all whittles down to two things - comfort and freedom. Having the freedom to say what you wish and feeling the comfort of knowing you won’t be judged for it is a beautiful thing. Thinking about the idea of this reminded me of home. More specifically, it reminded me of my bedroom. Remember? Those pillow-pep-talks with best friends or sisters? There is an undeniable freedom of expression which comes with having a place that you can truly call your own.
And that’s when it clicked: the bathrooms are all ours.
Womxn’s bathrooms are the only place in this gender-orientated society that we exist as one and as the only one. This means that in our tiny tile-encrusted sections of civilization, we can say and be the women we feel we could be all the time if every woman felt they had the right to do so.
The rooms are designed for privacy and discretion but we use them for the exact opposite reason because we feel we have to. Because where else do women have the complete power to speak with the guarantee of not being interrupted or de-voiced by a man?
So, I’ll ask you again - try and imagine a society where womxn treated each other the way they do in bathrooms, but all the time.
Now, strive for that. Tell a girl on the tube you love her trousers, tell a guy on the street his hair is fabulous. Tell your weeping classmate they are enough. Let’s step outside the cubicle and make everywhere feel like a womxn's bathroom.