The public toilets in Victorian London were built for only Men.
The British Victorians believed that women shouldn’t “stop off” to pee and poop in a public space. Privacy and safety, which was modesty, for Victorian women meant they couldn’t be seen by loitering men IF they attempted to find a place in the public forum to pee and poop. Just being viewed by men was invasive of their privacy. However, I understand this anxiety because I also wouldn’t want to be starred at by one guy or by a group of them.
The Victorians didn’t do any practical education for loitering men to not stare at women when they were in public spaces. Instead both men and women believed that women should stay in their houses to maintain their privacy, and they were strongly expected to spend scant time in public. Public spaces were meant for only Men.
Also, before the Victorian construction of Men’s public toilets, men could only pee in an alley and against a building’s wall. It was common for men of any profession in London to use a building’s back alley as their toilet. Lawyers had to pee on the street.
So this is very interesting from the Museum of London: A toilet roll.
“The toilet roll has been created by the First 100 Years project, a campaign to celebrate the history of women in the legal profession since 1919, when the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act made it illegal to ban people from jobs based on their sex. However, many businesses used excuses to avoid hiring women, notably that they couldn’t adapt their workplaces to accommodate them.” (Collinson, 2017).
Near the end of the 19th century, Victorian women started to view themselves as “The New Woman“. This idea was that women should regularly go into public spaces, be seen in them, and also have public toilets. Industry, because of the Industrial Revolution, was mostly the reason why women had to be in public.
Specifically the Ladies Sanitary Association, which was founded in 1857, had started pamphleting in 1878 for both middle and working class women to have public toilets in London. The LSA had support from the Women’s Gazette and wrote a proposal to every vestry and district in London for women to finally have their own public toilets.
Rose Adams, the secretary for the LSA, wrote to the Bethnal Green Vestry on December 3rd, 1878, that:
“The increasing number of women (working) of all classes who travel about London daily renders such provision of serious moment.” (Jackson, 2014, p. 173).
But it was in 1889 that a public washroom was constructed for only Women:
“[A] magnificently appointed municipal woman’s underground convenience was opened in Piccadilly Circus. The location was significant — this was the heart of the West End, the burgeoning shopping district, whose department stores were attracting increasing numbers of prosperous middle-class women into the heart of the metropolis. Their business was valuable; money talked.” (Jackson, 2017).
Right now, I’m wondering if urinals would be put into Women’s washrooms because there are many men who gender as women who also keep their penises. Wouldn’t the “women with penises” want to be accommodated with urinals? This would be trans-progressive.
I’m envisioning an end to specifically the Women’s public washroom because of body dysphoric men politically transforming these public toilets. The hard work of natal women to have public toilets for themselves are being revised to be “gender neutral” while the Men’s public toilets still remain for only Men. Women are back to facing public toilets primarily existing for Men. Women may soon no longer have the option of a public toilet built for them. Women will only have the “gender neutral” public toilets as washrooms for both them and the men who are gender dysphoric.
Collinson, A. (2017, September 6). Women’s right to sit comfortably. Retrieved from https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/discover/womens-right-work-toilet-bathroom-victorian-london-wwi-factory-protest
Jackson, L. (2014). Dirty Old London: The Victorian Fight Against Filth. Retrieved from https://books.google.ca/books?id=FWY3BQAAQBAJ&pg=PA173
Jackson, L. (2017, December 6). Selfish Inequality: The Long Wait For The Ladies’ Room. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/lee-jackson/selfish-inequality-the-lo_b_6202108.html