A good friend and mentor of mine sent me this story from Slate after he had read my previous two entries about the recent developments surrounding bathrooms. The title: “Sex-Segregated Public Restrooms Are an Outdated Relic of Victorian Paternalism” (as my mentor pointed out) sounds like a headline from the satirical news outlet, The Onion. Except that it’s not. This author was quite serious.
The Slate article perhaps had a chance to make a good argument about public bathrooms, but all that the writer does is put his nose up in the air and essentially call having bathrooms designated for each sex passé. The best line comes at the end of the third paragraph. Building codes that stipulate a building should have a men’s and a women’s restroom “reflect[s] a literally Victorian prudishness that we might mock in other contexts.”
Excuse me, but what? What does the author mean by “Victorian prudishness?” And exactly who “might mock [it] in other contexts?” No person who does not already share this author’s worldview will have any idea what he is saying, but he clearly believes that everyone already agrees with him despite the recent vote in Houston that proves the contrary. He shows this in his final paragraph when he says that the laws regarding sex-segregated bathrooms “were created in an era scarcely recognizable to a modern American.”
I cannot even fathom how someone could be so out of touch with what many Americans think. Rightly or wrongly, many of the votes that have taken place show that a majority of Americans still hold to traditional views of gender and sexuality. The wide cultural changes regarding these issues have been taking place as a result of the ideologies of a few political/social elites, and they are making their changes without the consent of the governed.
Even if I were not a social conservative in these matters, I would still argue that the way these changes have been taking place are corrosive to the fabric of the United States’ republic. Rather than substantiate these changes via intelligent discussion, liberals have mostly run a marketing campaign with celebrity spokespersons. Yet, just because Bono and Oprah say something is right does not make it true.
Demonizing and threatening those who do hold to traditional values will only harden those who hold to those positions. “Change, or else,” simply will not be successful, and I can only see this country becoming irreconcilably divided if these tactics remain popular.