When I was 19 I asked my dad to shave my head. I wanted a new hairstyle and decided a shaved head was the style for me. It wasn’t a huge statement, or a form of rebellion, I was just experimenting with my style and at the time, I quite enjoyed not having to do my hair in the mornings.
From the moment I shaved my head I was treated differently. Sideways glances, comments under people’s breath’s and even comments directed right at me. But something that always stuck with me most from that time, was the moment a woman shouted at me in the toilets. In fact there were several toilet moments just like this within a few years. But this one made the most impact.
I was on my lunch break at work and had nipped to Boots for a meal deal. On my way back to work I decided to visit the public toilets (because retail staff toilets were always gross). I’d used the toilet and was just washing my hands when a woman exited her cubicle and just started shouting…. “GET OUT…GET OUT!!!! THIS IS THE WOMEN’S TOILETS, GET OUT GET OUT, YOU SHOULDN’T BE IN HERE” I continued to wash my hands for a few seconds before I realised she was directing her anger at me.
I said “pardon?”, when she began her tirade again. I calmly told her I was in the right toilet thanks and walked out. It took me a few minutes before I grew angry at how she’d taken it upon herself to police the toilets. That she had made some assumptions about my gender and decided to publicly berate me without apology.
Over the years I’ve had the odd remark about being in the wrong toilet, but none quite as aggressive as that afternoon. Once M came along the remarks seemed to die down and using a public toilet wasn’t an issue…..
Until last month, when M and I nipped to the toilet in Asda whilst C was shopping. We’d both finished washing our hands and were making jokes across the room as we both stood at the hand driers. When a woman walked in, looked at me in disgust, then marched back to the toilet door, opened it, pointed at the sign, huffed and walked back in. She was obviously not happy I was in the toilet, yet she did manage to bite her tongue and chose to non verbally gesture at the symbol on the toilet door.
But it had been noticed by M who asked me why she was angry I was in the toilet. It prompted a conversation on gender, how nobody has a right to police the toilets that way and how if he ever has any questions about the way people are towards me then just to ask. He found it hilarious she thought she’d walked in the wrong toilet, but was also confused why she would think that from looking at me.
I am always total open with M on a level he will understand and he knows we can discuss lots of topics he feels comfortable asking us about. It’s just a shame that a 4 year old can grasp decent behaviour a lot better than most adults.