Ladies and Gents

Public Toilets and Gender

Edited by Olga Gershenson and Barbara Penner
Book Cover

PB: $33.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-940-8
Publication: Jun 09

HC: $86.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-939-2
Publication: Jun 09

Ebook: $33.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-941-5

262 pages
6 x 9
1 figs., 32 halftones

Talking about toilets—in all their material, social, symbolic and discursive complexity

Read the Introduction (pdf).


Public toilets provide a unique opportunity for interrogating how conventional assumptions about the body, sexuality, privacy, and technology are formed in public spaces and inscribed through design across cultures. This collection of original essays from international scholars is the first to explore the cultural meanings, histories, and ideologies of public toilets as gendered spaces. Ladies and Gents consists of two sets of essays. The first, “Potty Politics: Toilets, Gender and Identity,” establishes the importance of accessible, secure public toilets to the creation of inclusive cities, work, and learning environments. The second set of essays, “Toilet Art: Design and Cultural Representations,” discusses public toilets as spaces of representation and representational spaces, with reference to architectural design, humor, film, theater, art, and popular culture. Compelling visual materials and original artwork are included throughout, depicting subjects as varied as female urinals, art installations sited in public restrooms, and the toilet in contemporary art. Taken together, these seventeen essays demonstrate that public toilets are often sites where gendered bodies compete for resources and recognition—and the stakes are high. Contributors include: Nathan Abrams, Jami L. Anderson, Johan Andersson, Kathryn H. Anthony, Kathy Battista, Andrew Brown-May, Ben Campkin, Meghan Dufresne, Peg Fraser, Deborah Gans, Clara Greed, Robin Lydenberg, Claudia Mitchell, Alison Moore, Frances Pheasant-Kelly, Bushra Rehman, Alex Schweder, Naomi Stead, and the editors.

Table of Contents

Foreword Acknowledgments Introduction: The Private Life of Public Conveniences Potty Politics: Toilets, Gender, and Identity 1. The Role of the Public Toilet in Civic Life 2. Potty Privileging in Perspective: Gender and Family Issues in Toilet Design 3. Geographies of Danger: School Toilets in Sub-Saharan Africa 4. Gender, Respectability, and Public Convenience in Melbourne, Australia, 1859–1902 5. Bodily Privacy, Toilets, and Sex Discrimination: The Problem of “Manhood” in a Women’s Prison 6. Colonial Visions of “Third World” Toilets: A Nineteenth-Century Discourse That Haunts Contemporary Tourism 7. Avoidance: On Some Euphemisms for the “Smallest Room” Toilet Art: Design and Cultural Representations 8. Were Our Customs Really Beautiful? Designing Refugee Camp Toilets 9. (Re)Designing the “Unmentionable”: Female Toilets in the Twentieth Century 10. Marcel Duchamp’s Legacy: Aesthetics, Gender, and National Identity in the Toilet 11. Toilet Training: Sarah Lucas’s Toilets and the Transmogrification of the Body 12. Stalls between Walls: Segregated Sexed Spaces 13. “Our Little Secrets”: A Pakistani Artist Explores the Shame and Pride of Her Community’s Bathroom Practices 14. In the Men’s Room: Death and Derision in Cinematic Toilets 15. “White Tiles. Trickling Water. A Man!” Literary Representations of Cottaging in London 16. The Jew on the Loo: The Toilet in Jewish Popular Culture, Memory, and Imagination Afterword Contributors Index

About the Author(s)

Olga Gershenson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of Gesher: Russian Theatre in Israel--A Study of Cultural Colonization.

Barbara Penner is a Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, author of Newlyweds on Tour: Honeymooning in Nineteenth-Century America and co-editor of Gender Space Architecture.