Friday, 29 April 2016

Shooting the Shit - Let Us Get Rid of Transgender Bathroom Bigotry

The conclusion one comes to after five and a half years of running an intellectual toilet blog is that it is persistently topical. Bathrooms figure frequently in the news at the moment, due to the irrational and bigoted efforts by various US legislators to enforce bathroom bills that discriminate against transgender people.

This fabulous picture came our way via Kick-Arse Suffragette Friend. Image from lgbt.gaybies.

We have ranted a fair bit about how we are opposed to unisex toilets if they force one to share a sink with a barrage of bearded hipster dudes (and also if they force one to share a sink with a barrage of polyester-suited businessmen), due to a concern for women's safety.

However, the bigoted bathroom laws in the US have highlighted the fact that transgender people, as well as cis women, are at risk of suffering violence at the hands of men. For this reason we feel it is important to clarify our stance on gender-neutral bathrooms.

We are mentally cheering this bearded hipster dude on, waving balloons and blowing those festive rolled-up paper things that go "toot". Image from Transadvocate.

We are not the only ones to have pointed out that the biggest threat to women and children is not transgender people. Neither is it sharks, nor bears, nor deranged psycho killers armed with sharp implements. The biggest threat to women and children - and also to transgender people - is cis men. That is, normal dudes.

Transgender people are vulnerable to hate crimes and violence, and need to be protected from the bigotry of the uneducated. Let us, therefore, collectively embrace unisex toilets!

Unisex toilets, however, like any other toilets, need to be done right. There needs to be privacy and sturdy doors (instigators of flimsy cubicles will be put on our black list and branded as enemies of the people), and one needs the option to wash one's hands in seclusion. If bearded hipster dudes want to wash their hands together that's up to them, but we would rather not wash ours while being stared at by said bearded hipster dudes.

Here are some unisex toilets so cleverly designed that one doesn't even reflect upon the fact that they are unisex!

First up are the toilets in the shopping centre in Burlöv, outside Malmö. We don't spend a lot of time in shopping centres, whether in Burlöv or anywhere else, due to them being vile. However, we actually needed to buy something once, and consequently trekked to Burlöv. The staff were nice, and we suffered no unreasonable trauma. Moreover, the toilets were really cool!

The toilet sign! Quite friendly, isn't it? It has a binary gender approach which one could criticise if one were so inclined, but on the other hand it is enriched with Braille, and thus disability-friendly.
(To be honest, we have no idea how helpful this sign is, if at all, to a partially sighted person. Sometimes it is the thought that counts!)

How swish is this! Unfortunately we don't seem to have photographed the inside of these toilets,
but look how fancy the outside is!

Next, let us look at the toilets in the Orkanen building at Malmö University.

Here is a similar set-up to the one above - many doors, all with the binary toilet sign, and a disability toilet at the end.

We enjoyed this set-up hugely: a good mixer tap, plenty of soap, and paper towels.

Not one but TWO sturdy coat hooks!
At this point in the photography proceedings, we died a little from happiness.

The student union's toilet-based newsletter is called Skitviktigt.

The English-language version is called The Toilet Paper.

We have been to Malmö University many times, and have never even reflected on the fact that these toilets are unisex. Malmö University is rather prone to be crawling with bearded hipster dudes, but we have never felt threatened or uncomfortable here, and the toilets have always been clean and well maintained. Well done, Malmö University!

Let us finish with a festive video, to celebrate the arrival of the weekend! We went to see the Dixie Chicks the other day, and they were just as fabulous as you would expect. Let's have their supremely festive video about how to combat domestic violence. We are rather inclined to agree with the Dixie Chicks' statement that they "do not advocate premeditated murder, but love getting even".

An article we liked in Slate:
Breitbart Proves What We Already Knew: Trans Women Are Not Bathroom Predators

An article we liked in the Huffington Post:

Some of our best friends are bearded hipster dudes.

Friday, 22 April 2016

On the Rocks

When you have spent all your money on books and are living on oatmeal and odd-tasting budget-brand peanuts from last June, you discover a need to create your own entertainment. Luckily, an intellectual bog blog is the perfect medium for concocting diversion out of thin air and slightly creepy pictures. Friday night, here we come!

We have mentioned this bar we love, Rock'n'rollklubben in Lund, once or twice. We ventured forth the other week to hear the Belarusian band Amaroka, and also a  rockabilly band hailing from Kristianstad called the Boot Hill Ramblers. We really couldn't say what we enjoyed most - the band from Belarus, the band from Kristianstad, or the disco ball toilet!

This is not in any way intended as a slight on either band, you understand - we really do love a good toilet as much as we love a good rock'n'roll band, and this toilet was highly festive! See for yourself:

This bog is the spiritual twin of THE FAMOUS DISCO TOILET OF STAVANGER.

This sticker says "Death before dishonesty", which is a pretty good motto, as far as toilets go,
and especially a dedicated rock'n'roll toilet.

We feel safe knowing there is pleasant soap, and plenty of bog roll.

This is the other toilet at Rock'n'rollklubben. Yes! There are two toilets!

This soothing turquoise colour reminds us of an eclectic toilet we enjoyed using once on Mykonos.

Being the globe-trotting toilet connoisseurs we are, this is not the first time we have seen a chandelier in a toilet.
(We have also seen this chandelier.)

Rock'n'rollklubben has a strict policy of equal rights and freedom from harassment. This cosy candle symbolises how safe we feel at this place - not just in the toilet, but outside, too. We have never been sexually harassed or even stared at in an uncomfortable way at Rock'n'rollklubben - hurrah for people just being people!

To continue our theme of providing cheap entertainment for a Friday night, here is a greeting from Jonny, that endless source of wit and savoir-faire:

So my friend does stand-up comedy 
I asked him if he had a joke for your blog or any tips to make it funnier 
He said the trick with bathroom jokes is to let it flow naturally 
Don't faucet...

For tonight's festive video we have, rather fabulously, selected a video by Kristianstad's foremost rockabilly band, the Boot Hill Ramblers. Enjoy!

Festive Video - Boot Hill Ramblers, Rockin' Daddy

(For videos recorded at the actual Rock'n'rollklubben, there are for instance One Cup of Coffee, Sixteen Chicks, and Rockabilly Boogie.)

Related Reading

Previous posts featuring Rock'n'rollklubben:
To Boldly Go, Etc
Love, Politics and the Revolution

All posts exploring the theme of rock'n'roll

All posts featuring Jonny


Monday, 11 April 2016

Love, Politics and the Revolution

Did you hear that? That was the sound of us exhaling, immediately followed by the sound of us glugging wine in an unrestrained manner.

As we hinted the other week, in an annoyingly cryptic fashion, things have been pretty provoking of late. But today, lo and behold, we find ourselves, not perhaps stomping our boots uproariously and waving balloons, but at least wiggling our toes pleasurably and winking roguishly at postmen. Also we've had some rather encouraging news which made us inclined to consider engaging in an activity not dissimilar to breakdancing.

We are not, furthermore, the only ones in a genial mood. Our contact at the sewage treatment plant in Källby - that queen among sewage treatment plants - went there this afternoon, to indulge in some sludge inspection, or a similar happy activity. She had to wait for a bit for the person she wanted to speak to as he was busy. However, the jovial sewage engineer then treated our friend, as if to make up for the wait, to an impromptu memory cavalcade about said sewage engineer's childhood, including tales of going to Denmark to buy sugar, or possibly beets.

(We are rather jovial ourselves at the moment, being wined up to the gills, and can't quite remember what the Danish produce in question actually was, only that in those days you apparently got 100 Danish kronor for only eighty Swedish ditto - a fairly fascinating factoid for a Monday night.)

As if to complete the general feeling of geniality, Audiologist Friend has sent us pictures of a lovely unisex toilet in Luleå! She writes:

Dags att visa upp det moderna Luleå. Det nyrenoverade badrummet i Smedjan är den perfekta mellanlandningen efter en förmiddagspromenad på isvägen, på vägen hem.
Jag vet att du inte är ett fan av unisextoaletter men var ändå tvungen att fota och skicka till dig.
(Time to demonstrate the modern Luleå. The newly renovated bathrooms at Smedjan [a shopping centre] are the perfect stopover after a forenoon-walk on the ice road, on the way home. I know you're not a fan of unisex toilets, but I still had to take photos and send them to you.)

As regular readers are aware, we are deeply committed to protecting the rights of transgender people. However, we have a massive problem with unisex toilets, at least if they are designed wrong. We love sharing a toilet with transgender people, and fully understand the dilemma of having to choose one of two gender-assigned doors, when one doesn't identify with either gender, or not with the gender one most resembles physically.

However, we do not, under any circumstances, want to share a public toilet with cis men. (Especially not if said cis men are bearded hipster dudes, as reported previously in a tale of spine-chilling horror.) This means that, if a unisex toilet is designed in such a way that women have to share a space, including the space by the sink, with men, then we are against it.

We have never felt threatened by a transgender person. However, we have often felt threatened by cis men. We are of the opinion that public toilets should be safe spaces, where a woman may let her guard down without being threatened, assaulted, sexually harassed, or mansplained at. A unisex toilet with a sturdy, lockable door, noise insulation (all toilets should have this anyway), and its own sink, is perfectly fine by us. A unisex toilet with uncomfortable stalls and shared, mix-gender sinks will be hated by us until the sun explodes and turns the Earth into tiny specks of dust.

We have mentioned, in a previous post, the sheer evil of certain American politicians, depriving transgender people the use of public toilets due to a professed concern for women's safety. As it turns out, reports Patheos, the number of transgender people to have been arrested for sex acts in bathrooms in the States is currently zero. The number of Republican senators to have been arrested for sex acts in bathrooms is three.

Committing a (presumably consensual) sex act in a bathroom is obviously not the same thing as committing an act of sexual violence, but we maintain our stance that the most common danger to women and children is cis men, i.e. normal dudes.

This unisex toilet looks like it might have its own sink behind a lockable door,
making it an acceptable option, unisex-toilet-wise.

A friendly and welcoming, and hopefully privacy-shielding, screen.

This picture gives us the jitters. WILL WE HAVE TO SHARE THIS SINK WITH BEARDED HIPSTER DUDES? is what we are asking ourselves. Hopefully there is a separate sink behind each of those doors.

We have a treat for you, Festive Video-wise! We went to our favourite rock'n'roll club, Rock'n'rollklubben in Lund, the other night, and had the very great pleasure of seeing and hearing a band called Amaroka. They had come all the way from Belarus! And they kicked arse! (We have some rather splendid photos from Rock'n'rollklubben to show you, by the way, in the near future.)

Amaroka represent "positive punk rock" and their songs, as far as we can tell, are 50 % about love, and 50 % about politics and the revolution. Amaroka in fact played in Kiev during the Ukrainian revolution, and were consequently banned by the Lukashenko regime.

The following video kicks arse on so many levels one loses count - it features a dog, a girl with awesome eyeliner, and a young man flipping pancakes! Enjoy! (We also enjoyed this song, and so did our mum.)

Festive video - Amaroka, Разрываеш

Related Reading
Our rant about the word forenoonHigh Noon, Hell, and High Water - A Very Long Linguistic Rant
Our rant on why we don't like unisex toilets, if designed wrong
Our review of a unisex toilet we really liked, at Bee Bar in Malmö
Our classic rant on mansplaining
All posts featuring Audiologist Friend

We usually feel compelled, when ranting about the patriarchy, to point out that we have many male friends who would never dream of acting in a sexist or boorish manner. Some of them may be found featured under the following labels (in alphabetical order):

Bogsley Hansson Friend
Czech Mate

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Perhaps Our Most Rampant Fit of Escapism Ever

We've all had them - those days when you're not paying attention and suddenly find that you have accidentally grossly insulted someone. You're having a perfectly pleasant conversation with somebody, and all of a sudden people start bellowing angrily, crying, or leaving the room. This has happened to us more often recently than you would perhaps credit.

We are all fallible, but some of us are more fallible than others. The pope claims not to be fallible at all. Be that as it may, we have certainly felt fallible as hell recently, and have thus embarked on a process of stubborn denial, procrastination, and escapism. Come with us on an escapist journey to the charming countryside church of Äsphult, in southern Sweden!

We went past Äsphult one sunny day in August last year. Times were difficult, but we enjoyed peace and repose in this beautiful church and its hygienic and disability-friendly toilet.

The toilet is behind the lefternmost door.
Isn't this a charming sign? Does it remind us of something?
Of course it does. It reminds us of this sign that German Friend once spotted!

What a superbly disability-friendly toilet!

An admirable set-up! This is what we like to refer to as the holy trinity of sink, mirror, and paper towels.

This is the kind of disability-friendly door-handle that you can open with your elbow, meaning you don't have to touch a potentially germ-infested surface after you've washed your hands. HUBBA HUBBA!

These festive dead insects brightened up the windowsill.

All flesh is grass, and all that.
We couldn't imagine a better coat-hook if we tried. Like, literally - we couldn't imagine a better one.

This is, as regular readers are aware, our favourite soap in the entire world. It comes in a friendly bottle, and smells of violets. Kafferosteriet in Malmö had the same one though with a different scent, when we went there. If you would like a close-up of the friendly bottle, check out this picture of Monkey posing with it.
The tap is disability friendly.

Photography is admittedly not our area of expertise. If you would like a picture
where you can actually see the church, try this one.

Does that feel better? For our part, not really. We will perhaps drink some rum and see what happens. And continue with our program of procrastination and escapism. Being on some beach, somewhere warm, where all the people have fucked off and only the booze is left, would be ideal.

Festive Video - Blake Shelton, Some Beach

Related Reading

Other times when the friendly Bliw soap has helped us get through difficult times:
On Mansplaining and Monastic Drains
Not Nearly Enough Monkey Business

If you are excited by the concept of church toilets, see Gärdslösa - Runes and Royalty

All posts featuring church toilets

For nice old-timey pictures of Äsphult before industrialisation and urbanisation, see:

Sunday, 3 April 2016

On Machiavelli, Venereal Disease, and Cat-Sitting

It is when you find yourself reading Machiavelli, genuinely hoping to pick up some advice on how to sort out your life, that you realise there is no progression happening anymore - you have already gone to hell in a handcart.

Leaving aside, however, the existential aspects of reading Machiavelli, here are the main tips we have picked up from this Renaissance mover and shaker:

1. Don't ever let your soldiers put their loot in a bank, or bury it. Make sure they spend everything they've got, so that they will always be hungry for more fighting.

2. Don't ever build a fortress on high ground, as this is easier to mine, and thus break into. Build your fortress on a plain, and dig wells, to channel the blast from any mines placed under your walls.

3. Don't be changeable, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, or irresolute.

4. When invading a country, remember that a state with one strong ruler (like for instance Turkey) will be harder to take, but easier to hold. In contrast, a country with a weak ruler and many regional lords (think France) will be easier to take (there will always be a discontented baron who can be bribed), but harder to hold (you then have to put all the barons in their place and make sure they don't betray you in turn).

5. Don't let the children of your dead enemies live, out of misguided mercy. They will inevitably try to kill you in ten or twenty years' time. Off with their heads!

6. It is better to be feared than to be loved. At least if your aim in life is to rule a Renaissance-era city-state, or equivalent. (Machiavelli is firm on this point. Fear, not love.)

Machiavelli offers no advice on how to deal with syphilis, which is odd, considering this is a disease that plagued all strata of society in the 16th century, not excluding, of course, the Vatican. If we may offer you our personal advice in this area, it is this: Syphilis isn't that bad these days, but, whatever you do, don't catch gonorrhoea.

Moving on to more toilet-related concerns, we asked Meandering Friend if she still had the video of the famous disco toilet of Stavanger. However, it turned out she had only recently deleted it from her phone, in order to free up space! This is a tragedy of Titanic proportions, but never fear! We will simply have to conduct a field trip to Stavanger to drink beer and go to the toilet - let us know if you're keen to accompany us.

Meandering Friend writes:

Här kommer ett random toafoto istället från min nuvarande position som kattvakt i Lund (kanske kan göra nåt av det bloggmässigt? )
1. Smart konstruktion gjord av billigt-flygbolagstejp och toarulle för att alltid, när en inte är där, hålla toadörren öppen (#ingenjörskonst)... 
(Here is a random toilet photo instead, from my current position as catsitter in Lund (perhaps you can make something of it, blog-wise?) 
1. Smart construction made of cheap-airline tape and an empty toilet roll in order to always, when one isn't there, hold the toilet door open (#EngineerArt)...)

2. Gå på toa med en fyrbent kompis? (#neverwalkalone)
(Go to the loo with a four-legged friend? (#neverwalkalone))

Meandering Friend adds that there may be a film clip from a random waste disposal centre in Norway coming, if she can find a way of sending it via her phone.

We are not naturally of a Machiavellian bent at the Privy Counsel (except of course when people hang the toilet roll the wrong way round - there is no limit to how long we can carry on a toilet roll feud). Sometimes one needs to remind oneself that it's ok to stop trying so damn hard, and just drink some beer.

(Unless of course you are running a Renaissance-era city-state (or equivalent). All the bodily idioms apply here - you need to be on your toes, looking over your shoulder, keeping a firm grasp on your accountants, and steering everything with a steady hand. No beer for you!)

Festive Video - Billy Currington, Pretty Good at Drinking Beer

Related Reading

Ok, so actually, we sometimes get paranoid and say things like "the enemy is mobilising", which is fairly Machiavellian.

Previous posts featuring Meandering Friend:
Disco Fever in Stavanger

Our favourite cat blog is still, by the way, Catstrophil. It has many pictures of cats.
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