Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination

Sheila L. Cavanagh

© 2010

The intersection of public washrooms and gender has become increasingly politicized in recent years: queer and trans folk have been harassed for allegedly using the 'wrong' washroom, while widespread campaigns have advocated for more gender-neutral facilities. In Queering Bathrooms, Sheila L. Cavanagh explores how public toilets demarcate the masculine and the feminine and condition ideas of gender and sexuality.

Based on 100 interviews with GLBT and/or intersex peoples in major North American cities, Cavanagh delves into the ways that queer and trans communities challenge the rigid gendering and heteronormative composition of public washrooms. Incorporating theories from queer studies, trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the work of Michel Foucault, Cavanagh argues that the cultural politics of excretion is intimately related to the regulation of gender and sexuality. Public toilets house the illicit and act as repositories for the social unconscious. Also offering suggestions for imagining a more inclusive public washroom, Queering Bathrooms asserts that although toilets are not typically considered within traditional scholarly bounds, they form a crucial part of our modern understanding of sex and gender.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

In Queering Bathrooms, Sheila L. Cavanagh explores how public toilets demarcate the masculine and the feminine and condition ideas of gender and sexuality.

Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and the Hygienic Imagination

Sheila L. Cavanagh

© 2010

The intersection of public washrooms and gender has become increasingly politicized in recent years: queer and trans folk have been harassed for allegedly using the 'wrong' washroom, while widespread campaigns have advocated for more gender-neutral facilities. In Queering Bathrooms, Sheila L. Cavanagh explores how public toilets demarcate the masculine and the feminine and condition ideas of gender and sexuality.

Based on 100 interviews with GLBT and/or intersex peoples in major North American cities, Cavanagh delves into the ways that queer and trans communities challenge the rigid gendering and heteronormative composition of public washrooms. Incorporating theories from queer studies, trans studies, psychoanalysis, and the work of Michel Foucault, Cavanagh argues that the cultural politics of excretion is intimately related to the regulation of gender and sexuality. Public toilets house the illicit and act as repositories for the social unconscious. Also offering suggestions for imagining a more inclusive public washroom, Queering Bathrooms asserts that although toilets are not typically considered within traditional scholarly bounds, they form a crucial part of our modern understanding of sex and gender.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 304 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.8in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender Category awarded by 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards
    04
    US

    'Queering Bathrooms is a compelling work that delves into power, bodily waste, and the unconscious practices that form our conceptions of gender. Sheila L. Cavanagh's top-notch scholarship addresses issues pertinent to gender studies, trans studies, queer theory, and critical studies in sexuality.'
    Christopher Shelley, Women's and Gender Studies, University of British Columbia

    'Who'd ever have thought that plumbing the toilet could be such a thoroughly enriching experience? Cavanagh's cartographic account of the social, the psychic, the spatial, and the relations between them is an exquisitely disorienting journey into the somatechnologies of identity and difference.'
    Nikki Sullivan, Department of Cultural Studies, Macquarie University

    'Sheila L. Cavanagh's Queering Bathrooms offers a smart synthesis of architectural analysis, psychoanalytic theory, and queer/transgender studies to argue that public toilets are places of profound biopolitical importance ... A fine example of useful, intelligent, interdisciplinary scholarship, this book should be of equal interest to urban geographers and architects, trans/disabled/queer activists who seek more equitable public accommodations for people with atypical embodiments, and critical theorists of the body and subjectivity.'
    Susan Stryker, Department of Gender Studies, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • Author Information

    Sheila L. Cavanagh is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at York University.

  • Table of contents

    Acknowledgments

    Introduction

    1. Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality, and Excretion
    2. Trans Subjects and Gender Misreadings in the Toilet
    3. Seeing Gender: Panopticism and the Mirrorical Return
    4. Hearing Gender: Acoustic Mirrors — Vocal and Urinary Dis/Symmetries
    5. Touching Gender: Abjection and the Hygienic Imagination
    6. Sexing Gender: The Homoerotics of the Water Closet

    Conclusion

    Glossary, by Sheila L. Cavanagh and Melissa White
    Notes
    Bibliography
    Index

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