Bathroom Politics: Preserving the Sanctity of the ‘Ladies’ Room’

Tucson Progressive

Mad Men Joan's bathroom perfume sceneIn the 1950s the Ladies’ Room was a place of refuge, a wall-papered lounge with a couch, polished mirrors, fresh flowers, and often an attendant armed with fresh towels, perfume, and mints. As men have always suspected, we didn’t go there just to use the facilities; the Ladies’ Room was a safe gathering place.

We went there to talk, to primp,  to smoke, to cry, to adjust a poor wardrobe choice, to sneak away from a bad dinner date, or just to sneak away. The Ladies’ Room was a place where women could be women–a place with no men watching, commenting, judging.

The Politicization of Bathrooms

In the early 1970s, at the height of the feminist era, “Ladies” Rooms came under fire. We feminists were not “ladies” who needed fainting couches in restrooms because we didn’t have the fortitude to work an 8-hour day without a nap or a good cry. “Ladies”…

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