Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ask a Question Get an Answer #6: Hey, Should Restroom Segregation Be Extended?

Reader fatdaddy9226 asks:
Men and women have "separate but equal" public restrooms, I presume so as to reduce the possibility of either sex sneaking a peek at the naughty bits of one of the other sex.

Well, if gay people enjoy the sight of same-sex privates, should there be additional "separate but equal" public restrooms for them as well?

It's difficult to ask this question without seeming like a raging homophobe, so I appreciate your discretion.

fatdaddy9226, I'd say you're proceeding from a premise I disagree with. So it's plain I can't go all the way with you to the dilemma posed at your conclusion! Still, I will do my best to answer the question from a premise I'd go with.

First, let me assure you, I'd never accuse anyone of sexual-orientation hate bias just for asking an innocent question about social mores. But to me, society's body-shame issues and nudity issues are already pretty silly - and plenty of countries (like Europe) have way less in the way of hang-ups.

We have to make some allowance for the "social realities." There's not a whole lot of harm in letting people think it's a big deal if somebody gets a peek at this and that. Ooo, titillation! Kinda goofy, kind of fun. But to me, what we're doing there is humoring something silly and unnatural. So our attitude should be: where society insists on it, pat society on the head, go "there, there," and humor society.

But at bottom: it's really nobody's job to make social or cultural taboos "make sense." In fact, I say it can't be done. So I'd disagree with anyone wanting to take it another step. Humoring society its quirks is one thing, and a strong case to be made that we should. But on what grounds do we justify creation of new taboo applications that society isn't clamoring for, and doesn't need to be humored on? Someone would have to demonstrate the separate benefit of taking that on as a cause. Logic alone can't justify such a step, not when we know the premise is not rationally valid, but is rather culturally valid.

It does not dishonor us, to honor the nonsense that is held in common. So as long as we cannot show compelling cause why a given bit of nonsense must be campaigned against, there is scant harm and arguably, strong good in making allowance for the odd, nonsensical stuff that quirks us up at our foundations, and leads to many charming social realities. Of course as with any principle, we must keep our eyes wise for people attempting a harmful application of it, and oppose the application "on merit."

Side note: I gave a related answer to Kenny in AaQGaA #5 on what is, essentially, the same question - you should check it out! The two questions sort of "dovetail" seamlessly into each other, and I hope my answers are similarly complementary.

Thanks for asking! Did you get your answer?

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