The Politics of the Public Toilet

ddsaq_115_4The most recent issue of SAQ: South Atlantic Quarterly features “The Politics of the Public Toilet,” an Against the Day section edited by Kathi Weeks. “From the history of racial segregation in the United States and the ongoing sex segregation of toilets to the desperate dearth of facilities around the world, the provision and governance of the toilet is a politically charged phenomenon,” Weeks contends in the introduction to the section.

Contributors address topics such as bathroom access and social hierarchy, the decreased number of public toilets and privacy comfort in Britain for queer interactions, access to effective and adequate toilets in developing cities, the fear of public toilets and “others” as germ-ridden, dirty, and dangerous, and reframing the assumed necessity for sex-segrated public toilets, which includes a design proposal for a single-unit gender-neutral bathroom by architect Joel Sanders and trans* scholar Susan Stryker.

“The public toilet has been the scene of exclusions, but it is also becoming the site of new possibilities for political theory and practice,” Weeks argues.

The essays featured in “The Politics of the Public Toilet” will be freely available for the next six months.

Against the Day is a thematic section composed of short essays that engage topics of contemporary political importance. The title, “Against the Day,” is meant to highlight both the modes of activism and the specific occasion that the essays address.

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