Sunday, 24 September 2017

Piss-Poor Performance

The German Bildungsideal has a lot going for it, comprising, as it does, not only formal training in scientific methods but a wider cultural education. When striving for Bildung, as opposed to mere training, one acknowledges that the world is a diverse place with innumerable strands of history, all equally worth pursuing, and that knowing something about things that perhaps at first feel unfamiliar may enrich not only one's life but one's research. This is what Nazis and misogynists the world over fail to understand - that diversity is a strength, not a threat, and that homogeneity stifles academic pursuits.

In short, hanging out with different kinds of people will most likely enrich one's life, in ways one cannot foresee. We have the great fortune of spending a fair amount of time hanging out with awesome Swedish teachers, who seem to be in possession of arcane, almost occult, knowledge. For instance, one of them pointed out to us the other day that Swedish reggae is a real thing. We embraced this factoid with gusto. Enthusing about it in a social media forum, another awesome Swedish teacher of our acquaintance informed us that not only has Swedish reggae been around for yonks, there are even diverse kinds, including feminist Swedish reggae!

As we pointed out in a previous blog post, "We like, at the Privy Counsel, to be seen as competent people. When you are a self-professed intellectual, you set your standards high. [...] in most areas of life we like to think of ourselves as clued-up and capable. Our source criticism is rigid, our soap is the monkey-friendly kind, and we wouldn't dream of using a semi-colon where a colon is clearly indicated." However, in our ongoing efforts to achieve Bildung, we are ever delighted to come across something we didn't know existed, especially when it is something delightful like - raarrrr! - kick-arse feminist Swedish reggae!

At other times, one learns things that are in no way surprising or new, but are nonetheless incredibly depressing, such as the fact that there are 35 urinals for men in Amsterdam, but only three for women. A Dutch woman was arrested for urinating in public the other day, and was reprimanded by the judge, who claimed that she should have used a male urinal. Clearly, Bildung is not a requirement for Dutch judges. If it were, the judge in question might have realised that actually, there are numerous anatomical, social and safety-related impediments to women who wish to use a urinal designed for men. We once tried to use a urinal in Hoxton Square, London, one new year's eve, but had to give up, despite being armed with a Shewee. There was also the time when we almost got in trouble with the police for urinating in Golden Square. And another time when we faced the dilemma of not finding a toilet in a park, and worried about perverts hiding in the bushes. Really, the lack of female-friendly facilities in the world's public places is upsetting. As anyone will testify who has ever squatted behind a shrubbery in mid-winter, worrying about being raped, there is a massive need for public urinals for women.

Before we combust with rage over the rampant misogyny in evidence everywhere, let us enjoy some soothing pictures from a very dear Lithuanian friend of ours, who recently experienced numerous adventures in Belgium:

Beer and books! Is this the perfect toilet??

Lithuanian Friend says:

Wonderful local bar in Belgium and it felt so nice in this toilet with [a book wallpaper]

As everyone who lives with a chronic pain condition is aware, sometimes a hot bath is the only thing that helps. As, further, everyone who does daily battle with the fuck-ups that comprise the world we live in is aware, sometimes a hot bath, preferably with a glass of wine, if one can get over one's paranoid fear of ending up an alcoholic, is the only thing that helps. We love this picture from Lithuanian friend of a bath tub in a Belgian hotel room. And yes! that's right! That is Emer O'Toole's Girls Will Be Girls on the bathside table.

A bathtub, and Emer O'Toole's Girls Will Be Girls - is this the perfect hotel room??

Let us move on to today's Festive Video. Feminist Swedish reggae. You're welcome.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Girls Just Want to Have Fun(damental Human Rights)

As we never tire of pointing out, we are pretty lucky at the Privy Counsel, what with having friends liberally sprinkled all over the planet who are happy to send us toilet pictures. This thought consoles us when things get too grim. There is no shortage of misery either online or in the real world, and sometimes dealing with it all gets too much. As someone pointed out on Twitter the other day, it's ok to go offline because we aren't made to process human suffering on this scale.

We by no means claim to be experts at dealing with tragedy (we can frequently be found gibbering incoherently over a gin and tonic at midnight), but one approach that we have often found helpful is to try to do one thing. Just finding one tiny thing that you can improve can make an enormous difference, not just for your mood, but for the actual world.

Give someone a compliment, send a friend a postcard, smile at a stranger (unless of course you belong to the 50 % of people highly likely to be sexually harassed for simply existing in a public place; be careful with smiling if this is the case), volunteer at a women's shelter, encourage someone who doubts themselves, support your female colleague in her fight against mansplainers, call your political representative and tell them what you think. If you have an amazing aunt, cherish her. (Check out more things you can do at this really great site.)

Remember, also, to take care of yourself. Be kind to your body, nurture your mind. When at a great party, take photos of the toilets! Our favourite audiologist, Audiologist Friend, went to one a little while ago, and sent this greeting:

Var på bröllopsfest på galleri Verkligheten i Umeå! Spolningen blev överhettad pga mycket mat och dryck, 40 gäster och festen som varade 12 h!
Fantastisk fest  
(Was at wedding party at the Verkligheten gallery in Umeå! The flush got overheated due to much food and drink, 40 guests and the party, which lasted 12 hours!
Amazing party  )

A festive, art-poster-enriched toilet!

A helpful piece of freezer tape says "The flush may need time (to recover)". We totally identify with this.

We're not entirely sure what's going on here. There is possibly greenery (yallery, Verkligheten gallery), a mirror, and a cardigan hung up on a helpful coat hook?

 Well, wasn't that refreshing! We will now continue to lie down on our chaise-longue, and stay there until Sunday night, or until the world hardens the fuck up and stops breaching human rights left, right and centre; whichever comes first.

If you have access to a chaise-longue, we recommend you lie down on it IMMEDIATELY, preferably with a large supply of alcoholic beverages close at hand.

One final piece of unsolicited lecturing before we move on to the Festive Video:

Note that women's health is under threat everywhere. Accept that reproductive rights are human rights. Understand that women in control of their fertility are better able to access education, care for their families, and build stable communities. Remember that girls' education is the key to building a better, safer world.

Festive Video - The Oxford Belles, Girls Just Want to Have Fun(damental Human Rights)

Related Reading
All posts featuring Audiologist Friend
All posts featuring gender equality
Check out more things you can do at this really great site.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

"Let Them Eat Cake" - Could It Be Any More Obvious That a Man Designed These Toilets?

We would argue that most of us, however competent and organised we would like to appear in the eyes of the world, spend most of our lives lurching mindlessly in whatever direction we happen to be pushed by circumstances, eagerly grasping whatever alcoholic beverage is available come Friday night. However, even though we're happy, at the Privy Counsel, to take each day as it comes and live and let live, we appreciate the importance of some kind of guidelines to steer us straight. As regular readers will be aware, we defined two mottoes to live by a couple of years ago: PEOPLE SHOULD FUCK OFF MORE and FEMINISM NEEDS TO BE MORE MILITANT. These have stood us in good stead.

Last night, the beverage available happened to be the good kind of champagne, which was pleasant to a high degree, but more importantly, we formulated a new Privy Counsel rule of life! The third rule, now added to the canon, is ALWAYS GO TO THE TOILET TWICE.

"Hang on, hang on," you may be saying to yourself now, sitting up on your chaise-longue and agitatedly waving your tweed-clad arms about. "I'm perfectly happy going to the toilet just once. Why would I go twice just because some random toilet blogger with a record of showing poor judgement tells me to?" Your concerns, if this is you, are legitimate, and your logic infallible. However, hear us out - there is reason to our madness!

Say you're in a fancy seafood restaurant. For instance, to just grab an example at random, at Johan P in Malmö. Let's say you're throwing the good kind of champagne down your throat with chutzpah, and enjoying the feeling of it being Friday night and you not having to get up at the arse end of dawn the next day. Say you go to the toilet, and enjoy the fancy décor and well-appointed handwashing facilities. Say you snap a couple of pictures, feel pleased with your efforts, and go back to the table to continue guzzling champagne. Say someone with more life experience and less impaired reasoning skills points out that the toilet is, when you think about it, a unisex one. Say you laugh this statement off, arguing that you had a perfectly pleasant time during your visit to the toilet, entirely unharassed by bearded hipsters.

However, let's say that you, being trained in scientific methodology and critical thinking - even if your judgement has been temporarily clouded by vast amounts of the good kind of champagne - go back in some time later, for the sake of scientific enquiry and journalistic integrity. Let's say that, while washing your hands, no fewer than three persons of the male sex squeeze awkwardly past you.



In this case, the males in question were not so much bearded hipsters as bloated middle-aged men in unflattering trousers, but the tenet still stands. Only someone with very poor imagination would design a venue where a woman has to wash her hands in an enclosed space with random men twice her size, and not expect her to feel nervous and uncomfortable. We say this not because we dislike men, but because the statistics speak for themselves.

The majority of all reported sex crimes are committed by men, against women. When we say "the majority", we don't mean "something like two thirds", or even "something like three quarters", but "something like 98 %". Let that sink in. Now ponder the fact that sexual predators are opportunists, who harass, grope, and assault women when circumstances allow, and you will see that unisex toilets are a TERRIBLE IDEA.

To all restaurateurs out there who are considering putting in new toilets, we implore you: HARDEN THE FUCK UP AND GIVE THE WOMEN THEIR OWN FUCKING TOILET. Women-only spaces exist not because women are irrational creatures who insist on having several expensive square metres to themselves, but because toilets and changing rooms are not neutral spaces, and because the world is not safe for women.

Let us summarise our argument: Sex is biological reality. Gender is a social construct. No matter how dedicated we are to the struggle of crushing the patriarchy and pulverising gender norms, pretending that gender doesn't exist doesn't solve the problem of sexist abuse. Hence, until we're equal, and one sex isn't constantly subjected to sexual violence by the other sex, let there be segregated toilets.

Also, when writing a toilet review, ALWAYS GO TO THE TOILET TWICE. The first time may not show you every facet or even faucet (especially if you're off your head on the good kind of champagne).

Having ranted for a suitable amount of time, let us enjoy some photos from the well-equipped, but uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, toilets at Johan P:

We have no complaints about the toilet except that it has no coat hook. Could it be any more obvious that a man designed these toilets? The equivalent of Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" is the male toilet designer's "Let them put their handbags on the floor". No person in their right mind wants to put their handbag on a toilet floor - BLOODY WELL GIVE WOMEN COAT HOOKS!

This is all very well, but we still don't understand why sinks must look like cattle troughs.

The soap and hand lotion was very nice, and smelled of lavender and thyme!

Another aspect of Johan P is the acoustics in the restaurant are terrible. There are times when you would give your right arm not to be forced to listen to the person next to you, but there are also times when you would quite like to hear what your company is saying, and Johan P is not a good place for hearing whatever conversational pyrotechnics may be going off around you. The question of acoustics technically falls outside the range of our blog, but we thought it worth mentioning. (Let us also note, however, in the interest of fairness, that the champagne at Johan P is excellent and the moules frites are to die for.) Speaking of acoustics, we have some exciting toilets from Audiologist Friend, and also from Australian Friend and Jonny (who counts as a friend for administrative reasons), in our vast cavern of an archive - something for you all to look forward to!

Now, for a Festive Video. This one appeals to us for several reasons.

Festive Video - Shannon McNally, Lonesome, Ornery and Mean

Related Reading

Lest we lose hope: An excellent example of a toilet designed by women, for women:
Caitlin Moran Really Does Make Everything Better

If you enjoy looking at pictures of sinks that look like cattle troughs (pervert!), this is for you:
The Hours and Minutes Ticking Away

A post in which we complain about the horrors of unisex toilets and sinks in the shape of cattle troughs, simultaneously:
Stockholm Central Station: The Trauma Is So Great We Are Brought To Quoting Cicero

A rant about the horrors of suddenly finding oneself washing one's hands in the company of fifteen bearded hipster dudes, all smiling awkwardly:
Hungover Ranting: Festschrift to Medievalist (With a Side-Interest in Roman Archaeology) Friend

All posts featuring unisex toilets

All posts featuring Malmö
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