By Isabelle Nastasia
My first kiss was in a public bathroom. It was a seventh grade dance. Snoop Dogg was blasting from the six foot high speakers where kids were grinding up against the walls of the cafeteria. Some sixth graders shouted “Ew, gross!”as I pulled this dude-bro I had been dancing with into the little boys room and stuck my tongue down his throat.
I didn’t yet know that bathrooms would become my obsession.
Heterosexism: a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships.
You know how people are always saying that “girls always go to the bathroom together?” When it comes to bathroom sex, that idea can work to your advantage. Lesbian bathroom sex: brought to you by heterosexism.
My functionally lesbian roommate is judgmental of my bathroom sex excursions. Since we started living together she has become increasingly radicalized. I’m always in the process of trying to shift her paradigm to accept my experiences and take risks within her own social and sexual life (ahem, today she screamed “I don’t like femmes!” across the Brooklyn College quad when I referenced a femme who tried to kick it to her).
But femme invisibility has its advantages. Sycamore on Cortelyou Road and Westminster Street is the queerest straight bar I’ve ever been to in New York City. It’s a usual hangout for Brooklyn College faculty, students, and staff, and Kensington neighborhood folk. The bartenders are cute as hell, there’s a delicious beer selection, and there are two single-stall bathrooms. If you’re heteronormative, you might not notice through the dark-ass lighting that there are trans-folks making out in the booths. But it can be a hit-and-miss spot: sometimes there are dude-bros being mad homophobic and sexist. Overall, I like it because when I roll through with my queers we get free drinks and hook up with our best friends.
No one gives a fuck at Sycamore because of this air of heterosexism. You can go fuck a girlfriend in the bathroom and everybody just thinks you are chatting about that guy who bummed a cigarette from you in the backyard.
But bathroom sex can also result in a lot of “dude, not cool” sex shaming, which is whack.
Most of my relationship with slut shaming is inextricably tied to bathroom sex shaming. I like sex, and if you have sex with me, you should know that when I want to have sex, I want to have sex right now — when I want it, where I want it, and how I want it. If only somebody had told my twelve-year-old self that “public sex is radical sex!” It’s sexy, cool, and there’s totally nothing to be ashamed of. If I had known years ago that orgasms and public spaces equaled empowerment then I would have come out as bisexual a lot sooner.
One night at 773, a bar on Coney Island Avenue, my boo and I were making out and smoking cigarettes, having a grand old time with ten of our closest friends who were all playing darts and dancing to the Beach Boys. There was no one in the bar but our crew and the two of us wanted it pretty bad (as per usual). We fucked in the Men’s Room. (Yes, they have gender segregated bathrooms). And a good friend walked in on us, because the lock was broken — they were traumatized and pissed off because “all they wanted to do was take a piss” and when we finished we made the ultimate walk of pride.
The must-haves for bathroom sex are as follows:
+ Keep your shoes on! its not that important to take all your clothes off when getting down and dirty in the bathroom — be it boots or sneakers. Take my advice.
+ Leverage is key. Whether it’s the sink or the toilet seat or the tampon dispenser, get your knees, legs, ass up on something that gives you some more support, it makes it fun and kinky (try the top of the toilet, the tank).
+ Be as loud as you fucking want. The important thing about sex in bathrooms is to especially turn your partner on, and you as well, and to not give a fuck about what anybody else thinks — which you probably don’t, which is why you’re having bathroom sex to begin with.
+ Have a cute one-liner (suggestions: “mind the doorknob,” “we’re out of toilet paper,” “someone just had sex in this bathroom!”) for when you emerge from the stall or the family style one-roomer.
I was at Four Faced Liar on West 4th Street after a hyper-sexualized night at Rum Sunday (a local get together at El Cobre on Avenue A). We all ended up at a West Village spot to grab a Guinness before calling it a night. I had sex with someone in the bathroom — and while the small room with a toilet and sink would have been more conducive to oral sex and foreplay because of the great positioning of the sink and toilet paper dispenser, we were interrupted so many times that it really wasn’t worth it. If it doesn’t turn you on to be rushed (which I was), the high risk factor isn’t that worth it.
Ultimately, my experiment with bathroom sex is through the lens of this: how can you create a lesbian femme sex symbol? Lesson learned from this Brooklyn femme: be what you wanna jack off to. For me, I can’t help but sing Lana Del Rey (#LanadelGAY) while I write this. I wanna be the long-haired, bobby-pinned, lipsticked, combat-booted, pencil-skirted, hickey-ed, pink-streaked at the back (just so you know I’m a dyke), and HOT HOT HOT girl that subverts traditional interpretations of femininity. And by aggressively fucking women in bathrooms and liking it, I am.
Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.
Hot fucking damn.
i don’t care what you get up to in private, but it is completely fair for people who just wanted to use a public bathroom in peace to be upset at your shenanigans in there. they didn’t sign up to see/hear a sex scene, they just wanted to pee.
it’s not ~radical~ and ~transgressive~ to violate bystander consent, it’s just annoying.
I gotta throw my my hat here too. Some people react differently to being confronted with overtly sexual themes. A dear of mine was raped and she was triggered by pg-13 sex scenes in movies.
It’s cool that you’re proud of your sexualitly and such, and more props to you, but there has got to be a line in which no one feels, to borrow anon’s word, violated.
Bystander consent is a real thing and it’s important to follow. Not everyone can handle that kind of avante garde behavior.
Hm. I didn’t see it from that point of view. I’m really sorry about your friend, and I would’ve never thought of that kind of behavior affecting other people in that way. Thanks for sharing…
This. Also, one experience I had as a retail shlubb working in a drug store was coming across a pair of customers boning in a corner and having to confront them and kick them out, which was hell with my social anxiety. Chances are high that you’re going to make someone in a low-paying servile role have a shittier time at work (a janitor, a bartender). It’s not transgressive to sexually harass people.
Agreed. It’s not radical to have sex in public, but it is rude.
Here’s why it’s rude: in society, we’ve all decided on some rules for conduct so that we can get along better. Do you masturbate while waiting in line at the bar to get a drink? Even though when you want sex rightnow and maybe can’t wait to find a partner/room? I would hope not, because we’ve all decided that that’s not cool.
Why is that not cool? For the same reason having non-discreet (encourage your partner to scream!) sex in a bar bathroom isn’t cool: it makes people uncomfortable. It doesn’t raise awareness or identify inequities because most people (homos and homo supporters included) object to hetero bar bathroom sex, too. Some activities must include the right to not participate, and by forcing people to see or hear it, you deny that right.
There’s actually a real and significant difference between making people uncomfortable to demonstrate inequity (homo kissing in the same time/place/manner as hetero kissing) and making people uncomfortable because you broke the social contract.
I have to say that I haven’t ever heard an argument about public sex in the ways that you just articulated. I really appreciate your comment and believe that you are right in your assertion of this distinct difference between demonstrating inequity and violating people.
thanks for listening.
“in society, we’ve all decided on some rules for conduct so that we can get along better.”
In fact, those rules were not decided by “we” but by a bunch of conformists who were around before you or I were born. Our “social contract” is heavy on restricting sexuality and making people feel ashamed for completely natural things. I’m not necessarily advocating that everyone disrobe and masturbate at the bar when horny, but bathroom sex in bars (in Brooklyn, in particular – Union Hall? Union Pool?) is common enough to give lie to your claim, “we’ve all decided that that’s not cool.”
Yea, I am queer, and bc of my history sexual displays in public are incredibly triggering to me. I don’t care if you’re queer or straight. Why? BECAUSE THEY’RE NONCONSENSUAL. Public sex turns you on, perhaps partly because its in public. But what about the members of the public who didn’t want to be inserted into your sex scene? Who just wanted a drink or to pee? Because of my history I’ve needed sex to be COMPLETELY ON MY TERMS. Public sex is the opposite of radical, its non-consensual and douchebaggery.
Maybe see a fucking therapist and realize that when you go out in public what other people do kind of isn’t fucking up to you?
I mean, it’s rude but shit, it’s not really your call. I have to deal with people smoking and rude ass drivers and assholes who cut in line and bad smelling people. I get “triggered” by a lot of shit I see in movies and shit people fucking talk about, but I don’t need to give them my consent before they can have a goddamn conversation. I handle it by not giving a fuck and going about my day. This is called “being a fucking adult”. Deal With It.
Go away, troll.
Ha. I would respond to you like an adult and explain about trauma and consent and triggers and radical politics but you honestly don’t seem to have the mental faculties to qualify this.
I will, however, give you one point of reference. You know when cis-men pull down they’re pants in public and pull out their penis, maybe start masturbating? You know how this is illegal and, pretty much everyone agrees, disgusting? YEP. Try telling everyone to “just deal with” that. Consent is a real thing that is important to many people, babydoll.
1) the people participating in public sex consent *to each other* hence it is consensual
2) how you feel about it is completely not relevant
3) the best way to deal with phobia is to confront it anyways, so face those triggers and beat down your anxieties.
THANK YOU FOR YR AWESOME INPUT ON HOW ANONN SHOULD FACE THEIR TRIGGERS AND GET OVER THAT SILLY TRAUMA. YOU ARE SO GREAT HERE’S A MEDAL FOR CURING PTSD.
Oh, so if someone is scared of rape, I guess they should just “confront” it, right? By your logic, that is. And if you were smart enough to follow what I was saying you would understand that it is non-consensual for the people that are being inserted into their sex act.
bar bathrooms scare me a lot and I have to have a pretty good buzz to use them. You know what also scares me, that scene in mean girls where lindsay lohan aka cady heron eats her lunch in the restroom. cant even.
THANK YOU! I can not handle that scene. Has Tina Fey ever BEEN in a high school bathroom???
I did that once when I had to stay in class late to talk to a teacher and then couldn’t find my friends.
Public sex may be cool and radical and making some kind of strong political statement, but it’s also bloody annoying if you’re waiting in the queue to spend a penny.
ok…I like bathroom sex. I’ve had plenty of bathroom sex in my day. I’m not going to slut-shame you for liking what you like, or suggest you curb your enthusiasm for it. But let’s not pretend there is anything radical or feminist about it, when all you’re really doing is engaging in highly self-indulgent behavior.
i think the point she’s making is that because we’re unable to be affectionate in public spaces as gay people, that hooking up in bathrooms is a way of subverting that, in the same way that like, girls hooking up at summer camp at a place where boys and girls are separated very strictly to avoid canoodling. the radical part is finding, for once, a loophole that actually works in our favor.
Well that’s all well and good — but I’m really disappointed that she would find actively making other people uncomfortable/unsafe in an area where they have a right to not be confronted with explicit sexual behavior something worth crowing about.
There’s a difference between finding the small benefits of being queer and actively exploiting them to make others uncomfortable.
No one is made unsafe by the activities described. Being “confronted with explicit sexual behavior” is not “unsafe” any more than life itself is “unsafe” – indeed, people only exist in the first place because of “explicit sexual behavior”.
we have repeatedly explained how this is unsafe. at this point, i can only assume you’re a troll.
I’m not sure that I can see those points in this piece, Riese. It reads more as something for NSFW Sunday. I had to re-read it to figure out what Here/Queer place she was talking about and I still am unable to see it.
The article is about my coming out story, how the construction of femme identity (particularly invisibility) shaped my sexual awakening, how to queer-up traditionally hetero bars and finally, like the title of this month’s column “Here/Queer” illudes to, giving readers a concrete list of the top three best bar bathrooms in Brooklyn and Manhattan to have (consensual) sex in if you so choose.
Please don’t miss my big point about homophobia and heterosexism in public spaces…
I think that bathroom sex is an important thing to acknowledge as a “highlight of the homosexual experience”* and h(er/i)story and that’s why I think its radical. You don’t have to agree with me :)
Also, I am actively listening to the comments re: sexual harassment and bystander consent.
*Retrieved from: http://www.autostraddle.com/nsfw-lesbosexy-sunday-on-location-63793/
“2. Bathrooms: This is simple at straight bars, but nearly impossible in gay bars these days because the bouncers/bartenders/patrons ARE ONTO YOU. Bathroom-sex is a highlight of the homosexual experience and should be engaged in ~6 times before death.”
except if your article is about “public sex is awesome and radical, be as loud as you want bc you don’t care anyway, some friends accidentally walked in on me one time bc they wanted to use the bathroom and they were upset and that’s totally slut-shaming” and the responses are “dude, that’s potentially triggering/sexual harassment/overall NOT COOL” and your only response is “well you don’t have to agree with me”?
then no, actually, i don’t think you’re actively listening.
Sums it up beautifully. Thank you.
it seems that the only “listening” you’d accept would be along the lines of “I am so terribly sorry for not doing my part to make the world safe as the boy in the bubble, let me self-flaggelate – oh wait, will that trigger anyone?”
the world is not safe.
the world not being safe doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility to act like a decent human being.
Yeah, I don’t care who says it’s the highlight of the experience or whatever, it’s still not cool. You’re a member of the community and I support your identity, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to support everything you do just because you’re queer.
Gay or straight, bathroom sex and purposely making others around you uncomfortable is not okay. Period.
I really appreciate all of this feedback and the thoughtful conviction of all the comments on this essay. Initially I wanted to write this article about my experiences because, like “Riese” commented queers are “unable to be affectionate in public spaces as gay people, that hooking up in bathrooms is a way of subverting that… the radical part is finding, for once, a loophole that actually works in our favor.” However, I have to say that I hadn’t ever heard an argument about public sex in the ways that you all just articulated. Even though I have personally experienced sexual violation and trauma, I saw/see the reclamation of public space in this way, personally empowering. I understand that it is fucked up to make others replay personal traumas even though for me sex in bathrooms has been therapeutic and significant in a recovery process of personal and systemic sexual violence as a queer woman. Maybe it is not worth it and I don’t actually have a “right of revolution” over heterosexual spaces at the expense of other people’s comfortable. I can admit when I have done things that upset others, grow and try to learn from it. And I intend to.
I really appreciate your comments and believe that “Catcircus” is right in their assertion of the distinct difference between demonstrating inequity and violating people.
Thank you all.
I think it’s good of you to respond to these critiques in the way that you have. It’s never easy to ‘put yourself out there’ like this (publishing essays online) so I appreciate how jarring this criticism might be.
I thought this article was interesting and engaging but I too was taken aback and taken out of the story once you started with the “I’ll have sex whenever and however I want it” and “Be as loud as you want, it doesn’t matter what people think”. As people have mentioned, being sexual in public spaces does involve issues of consent, and while this is complex given how queer ‘behaviour’ is often silenced, it is important to be aware of how others might feel when sex is involved.
I agree with you on the point of recovery/public sex. There’s a difference between a movie, which is fiction, and real life when you can tell that the two girls in that stall who got in giggling, one pulling the other by the hand and the other running after the former. That looks so much like happy consent that it might shift your views on how other can experience sex and how you might experience it yourself.
I had had two beers and really needed to pee, and I just hoped my peeing didn’t deter them! Also, that time was one of the few last hints that helped me find out that if I was so glad and aroused to witness that bliss I might not be as straight as I posed as. Am looking forward to at least bathroom making out, now someday if I’m brave enough :)
I mostly agree with many of the comments here – I´m not really happy to walk into people having sex in toilets and I think it´s really important to accept other people´s boundaries. I can see why it´s important to reclaim hetero spaces and if two people are passionate about each other and want to do it RIGHT NOW, then yay for them. I just feel that toilets and other places were people have to get passively involved without giving their consents are not a good place to start a revolution.
However, I also really feel that Isabelle has made a brave move by writing such a personal piece and by participating in the discussion. No one has to agree with anyone really, but I think it´s good and important that we have these discussions among ourselves. I personally never thought about this before and am happy I did now.
Love from Brighton,
Idk..Maybe I’m just looking at this differently..For some people it’s the back seat of a car..For my college roommate it was the ladies changing room at Macy’s..For this author it’s a public bathroom..There’s a certain excitement about sex in public or even semi-public places..That feeling of “we might get caught”..It just heightens the whole frenzy of it..I can remember being out on a day hike in a state park with a girl I’d only been seeing a short time..We wandered a bit off the trail and one thing led to another..We could hear other hikers as they passed and that flutter of “this is wrong” made it so damned right! Sometimes you don’t stop to think about it..Sometimes you just..Go with it..Wrong or right..Right or wrong..It feels good to be bad sometimes..But I know this much for sure..I’m going to be reeeeally careful when entering the bathroom at A-Camp!
I love everything about this.
For some folks, just entering the women’s bathroom to pee is radical when it shouldn’t be. Butch dykes, genderqueers and trans women are often made to feel uncomfortable in this space when all they want to do is go in, relieve themselves, and leave without being stared at or have their gender questioned.
Trans women are especially singled out in the politics of legislating as non-discrimination laws are often turned into “bathroom bills.” Because nothing seems to scare people away from embracing equality like the idea of a trans women using the women’s restroom.
Just something to think about. I’m not sure if you’ve found a loophole or just away to exploit cisgender privilege in a way that trans* folks people never could.
I don’t have a problem with people wanting to have sex in public bathrooms. Heck, I have my own (now not so secret) fantasy of having silent sex with a girl in a library – between the stacks of the Women’s Studies section. BUT, I also know that libraries are public spaces where other people’s emotions should be respected.
I agree with other comments – some people just want to take a piss and get out of there. To make an intentional effort to be loud and make people uncomfortable in a place where they expect privacy is selfish. And I 100% disagree with labeling this as radical and an attempt to break heterosexist assumptions.
Yes, straight people assume that when girls go to the bathroom together, they’re powdering their nose, talking about boys or taking a “tinkle.” I just don’t get how having noisy sex in the bathroom is supposed to fix heterosexism. Even (most) gay people assume that someone is heterosexual unless given indirect or direct evidence to the contrary. And, heterosexism is not always accompanied by homophobia. But, what can contribute to homophobic thinking is a bunch of lesbians always engaging in noisy sex in the stall next to you when you’re trying to…privately excrete nutritional waste from your anus.
Agreed with Tia. Is anyone else thinking of the classic scene from Better Than Chocolate right now?
YES. And then all the women in the bathroom line go from grumbling to cheering and start making out.
That’s exactly what I was thinking of while reading this article, too.
I love all of you no matter what!
I love all the discussion that came out of this post!
me too! that’s one of the great things about Autostraddle, I think…instead of skipping over the comments or avoiding them like the plague, I actually read them and usually gain a greater understanding/experience from the different posters’ viewpoints combined with the author’s.
Yeah, I find this comment section more interesting than the article itself.
Hey can we remember that this is a human being with actual feelings and stuff, before we all rip her a new one?
Whether you agree or not, we’re all people with feelings and in the bigger scheme of things what she said isn’t going to end the world as you know it……………………………….
i think everyone has been really respectful in the comments.
ahaha, i live on Westminster Road*, i’m thinking back to couple of times I’ve been in the Sycamore bathrooms… hmmm
So this is no longer a Queer/Here post. Cool :) This is why I love Autostraddle.
ha — basically — i personally didn’t have any involvement in the editing/publishing/titling/categorizing of this post, and was speaking upthread as a defensive reader, not as a defensive editor. anyhow, after reading it (before reading your comment response), i felt like it wasn’t right for the category of “queer/here,” a category which is only clear in my own mind, really, and I can’t expect all the editors to read my mind, so that’s my fault. but it’s not a response to any of the comments here, honestly. (i believe this is what the people call “micro-managing” but it’s very sweet of you to love it.)
aw, well either way :)
i figured “here” was the bathroom. i thought it was funny.
Great article, great comments. Of course there are going to be flaws in the logic of it… but well, if there wasn’t, that would be boring wouldn’t it? Yay for discourse and debate and articles/writers/readers open to constructive criticism!*
*Spoken by a massive geek.
Well damn. Look at all these self-righteous comments.
So many of you apparently feel the bathroom is a sacred place, for some reason I cannot fathom, and seem to expect “boundaries” in there.
The author (and many… many… others) don’t feel that its a sacred place, and have sex in there. And yet apparently, most of you insist that your views on the bathroom are more important than theirs.
Sure, two people having sex in the bathroom might cause a line… but so might someone not having sex. And yeah, with a broken lock or other reasons, someone might walk in and *gasp* see people having sex… which really is a first world problem… too prudish.
I guess basically I feel like the people against bathroom sex are hypocrites, and this is one situation where they don’t see that they are imposing their values as the default, more important, set.
I dunno. I’ve never had sex in a bathroom, and it’s not really on my todo list… but I have walked in on it. And its really no big deal.
As an aside, I just watched House of Lies episode 1 a couple of days ago, and there’s a scene where two women go to the bathroom together and have sex. They don’t get caught or anything, but the scene at the table afterwords is pretty interesting…
Also, I think it’s sad this article was reclassified after people commented on it.
I think both points are valid, but I think the majority of the comments against public sex are more concerned with deeper issues than mere white middle class prudence (see the point about the trauma of someone who has experienced sexual abuse and who’s justifiable reaction when walking into an environment of loud public sex is often disastrous).
I don’t think bathrooms are sacred. I think the people’s emotions and values who walk into that place are sacred (within reason, and also with acknowledgement of my own biases and prejudices). That’s why I think the majority of these comments and the writer’s replies are great. I don’t feel like there’s a flame war here, just an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of each others viewpoints…
IDK. I’m highly likely wrong. Maybe we can all compromise and have silent/known only to us sex in public places (I know that’s contradictory to the premise of ‘public sex’, but you still get the rush of ‘Oh shit, we could get caught at any point’ and you still feel like you are subverting norms or whatever, even if no one else knows you are… it just minimises the risk of deliberately offending or even hurting someone else).
And hey, silence sex can be freaking hot too.
Woops, to the writer… I apologise if that came off assholish/implied you were an asshole. That was not my intention at all. Oh, and I was going to write that if I found myself lucky enough to want to be banged that badly by a chick in a bar then let’s face it, I would probably not think twice… and then I was like, wait, I remember now… I have had sex in a bathroom. [Currently shamefaced. Not for having sex in a bathroom, but for sounding like a hypocritical asshole]. Although I still think it is important to remember that you can’t control who walks into a bathroom and/or what their past experiences are
Oddly enough, I feel the opposite. I feel the restroom really shouldn’t be treated as a sacred place or a sanctuary. It shouldn’t be the place where women socialize or fuck. It should be the place where you:
3. Change your tampon or pad.
Because you see, the one thing all humans–straight, gay, bi, trans, cis–have in common is we all have to piss and shit periodically. There really is no way around it. And when you gotta go, you gotta go. And while socializing and fucking can be done elsewhere, there really isn’t any where else to piss or shit.
When you turn this space into a place for something, anything really, that isn’t related to pissing and shitting, you make it more difficult for trans* folks to get in there to use the bathroom for what it is. And I don’t mean because it creates a line.
It’s just not a space that should be claimed or reclaimed by anyone for the simple reason that *everyone* has to use it for basic human functions that cannot be avoided or done elsewhere.
Not only that, but there have been serious problems with insufficient access to public washrooms leading to urinary tract infections and other ailments, especially for women and trans/gender noncomforming people. This is a significant public-health problem.
When it comes to access to washrooms, it isn’t just, “Oh, people waiting are inconvenienced, too bad.” It causes real damage.
I agree that bathroom access is a serious issue for trans* people, but I fail to see how that has anything to do with the article in question.
Mostly because I feel like the author is incorrectly describing a privilege as being the result of stigma. It doesn’t make sense.
The reason a girl would be able to go fuck her girlfriend in the bathroom and no one notices isn’t because of heterosexism, but because of privilege. If, for example, a noticeably butch women went to the bathroom with another woman, people actually WOULD assume they were fucking in there and be grossed out whether or not they were actually fucking.
Yeah, I used to avoid using public bathrooms altogether, and it wasn’t really good for my system.
To me this just isn’t about sex at all, but women being way too territorial about bathrooms. I mean, if you can go to the bathroom and people don’t give a fuck, that’s because of cisgender privilege not heterosexism.
I don’t really think most of the comments here are about respecting the sanctity of bathrooms. It’s more that the author claims that bathroom sex as a radical expression against homophobia and heterosexism…which I honestly didn’t get from the article.
If this were just an article about bathroom kink, then my approach and appreciation for this piece would be different. I’m glad that Riese reassigned this article because this isn’t an inherently “radical queer” story – it’s about a radical queer having sex in a public place.
What exactly is a functionally lesbian roommate? What makes her functional? I’m confused.
I was thinking that as well. I read that sentence so many times and looked at the picture to try to figure out what made her “functionally lesbian” but couldn’t come up with anything. Like, is it opposite of “dysfunctionally lesbian”? I guess I’m glad she’s not malfunctioning…
I took it to mean that she really only/mostly has sex & relationships with women but does not identify as lesbian. I obvs don’t know for sure. Maybe the writer will clarify.
I’ve heard the term “functionally asexual” for someone who does not perform sexual acts, and while the term asexual can describe them due to lack of sexual behavior, their feelings may still be sexual while they choose to abstain from sexual activities..So I think you’re spot on
Her roommate could be genderqueer and not identify as lesbian for gender identity reasons.
Just guessing since genderqueers tend to be described (stigmatized) as “radicalized”.
loverly. also love the leverage.
I love how this whole piece is written like nobody actually works at a bar, like it’s a totally liberating radical thing to force strangers pulling down sub-minimum wages listen to you fuck in their workplace at 3 am. Oh, and they have to clean up after you.
I had no idea sexual harassment could be so empowering!
I bartended my way through college and most of grad school..I saw my fair share of bathroom sex..Booth sex..Back alley sex..Not to mention the always pleasant jukebox dry hump..Mostly, I found it amusing..Sometimes, when needed, I’d spray them with the bar gun (which frankly was a bigger bitch to clean up after)Point is, I’ll take that over having to clean up after the drunk chick who tossed it all in the bathroom anytime..And THAT’S why I wont have bar bathroom sex
This is my last post because I think that this completely defeats the purpose of the article…that being said I’m glad to see folks getting passionate about the “First Person” article. I’m flattered.
Re: lsp’s comment: I’m not talking about sex that floods the bathroom floor or trashes the whole place. Cleaning up after yourself! Its really that simple.
Also, back when this was a “Here/Queer!” post, the whole point was that it was a NYC guide to the three best bar bathrooms to have sex in. To lsp’s concern about how having loud sex in the bathrooms is sexual harassing the staff at these establishments, the places I’m advertising are way too loud for it to be the case that the bartenders are listening to you fuck in the bathroom.
I hope my friends who are work at Syc, 773 and Four Faced get tons of new customers because of this post.
ugh. until this comment, you had my respect.
don’t patronize people voicing their respectful opinions. (examples: saying your flattered re. a poorly written article, and the sexual harassment denial.)
I think you are greatly misreading the tone of my comments.
I was not being patronizing–I was honestly being sincere.
This is the first thing I have published on the internet that is connected to my name. Its nerve racking enough to have your experiences subject to public discussion but I think that I trust this community and am glad that I submitted no matter what. I’m really into the democracy of the internet and I have mad sure to critique ideas and not people on this thread.
I don’t think that any of the posts to this article warrant aggression and I respect everybody who has spent the time to respond.
I apologize if I came off as patronizing and definitely don’t think that anywhere in my comment did I deny sexual harassment. I simply explain the context and atmosphere of the three bars in question.
While I take into consideration everyone elses’ comments about how it is rude/inconsiderate to other people for bathroom sex, I’m sorry, but I think it’s hot. I mean, I’d never be as loud as I could by any means, but we’ve all been that level of drunk with that level of hot girl where you just wanted it to happen NOW. And as long as you’re not sprawled on some poor straight person’s table doing the dirty, I feel like if you chose to move it to a stall, what’s the harm really? Providing the lock works and there’s not a long ass line, why not? Idk, I feel like some people are taking this issue a little too seriously. It’s what she likes and yes, it can piss people off, but there are a lot of things about different sexual preferences that piss people off. Some people are legitimately offended by the idea of bondage or roleplay. I feel like this article needs to be taken with a grain of salt. There are always ways you can indulge in getting what you want while still considering the feelings of others. You guys of everyone should know that shit’s never just black and white
Yeah, I agree. I definitely get that public sex can be mega-rude but she’s not exactly prescribing that everyone go and start a “fuck in all the bathrooms!” meme. I’m not sure I agree with her classification of loud, public sex as the best way to subvert heteronormativity, but a majority of her article is about what she likes and how she feels about it.
To get into my rhetoric-class-analyzing mode: The article is clearly an opinion piece, and to understand it through the proper lens, the audience should view it as such.
I guess my main comment here would be that, in particular, I don’t think that a person can ever take the feelings and sense of safety and okay-ness of someone who’s suffered sexual trauma ‘a little too seriously’.
And I’m not saying that there will always be a person present who WILL hear and be triggered.. but I think people are right in saying that this risk is one that should not be taken lightly, and I tend to agree,
I’d also say that perhaps suggesting ‘it can piss people off’ might not cover the kind of triggering response that a survivor may have, which may be less to do with one’s personal values system and what someone *thinks* about the appropriateness of public sex and more to do with suddenly, unexpectedly reliving a harrowing experience because of environmental cues (eg. heavy breathing) that remind someone of sex in general.
I’d think that it’s possible for survivors to believe public sex is okay in theory BUT still manage to be triggered by it too.
there’s an indie movie called “four faced liar” (which is the very same place you had sexytimes in????) and it involves a gay girl and a straight girl who fall for each other, and they have sex in the pub’s bathroom. bar? pub?
Love that film! Marja Lewis Ryan! Brilliant!
I know it makes me cheesy and lame, but I freaking love that film. I couldn’t quite work out if the writer was attempting a re-staging of that hot bathroom scene as well? And despite my above deliberation about whether I agree with bathroom sex or not, that scene is HOT.
love love love that movie.
it’s almost exactly my actual life experience.
just so you know this whole website owes its existence to me and alex making out in the bathroom at angels and kings
hi i was an editor on this piece and published it originally. i stand completely behind this post, with the one exception of its original title, which didn’t accurately reflect that this was a personal essay from the beginning. i’m frankly embarrassed that some of you feel that it’s not only ok but also apparently your duty to tell someone that her personal experiences and her view of the world — when that view and those experiences don’t actually harm you or promote violence or hate — are somehow wrong, gross or rude.
when she said that she didn’t care about making other people uncomfortable, that was more or less the crux of the entire piece — she doesn’t care that being queer makes straight people uncomfortable, she doesn’t care that fucking in a room in public makes other people uncomfortable. that’s who she is. she’s giving her position on the world as she sees it right now.
some of the commenters taking issue w/ a girl THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW saying that she doesn’t care about making her friends uncomfortable is actually a version of slut-shaming. and it really doesn’t matter that you preempt your judgments w/ “i’m not slut-shaming.” because you are. you might as well tell her that when she wears short skirts around your 9 year-old son, it makes you mad and the fact that she doesn’t care makes her an asshole. when did it become ok for people to tell other people that their personal feelings about themselves are invalid and shitty?
i really honestly can’t believe that there are people being prude judgmental jerks on a sex post about sex on nsfw sunday.
the author’s shitty attitude towards the comfort of others is what made this post so perfect. i could’ve made a million other edits and added another 500 words to make sure no one was pissed off about her being, essentially, a young person trying to disregard societal rules, but it would’ve been 100% not her and would’ve taken away from what i loved so much about it, which was that she was being a total cunt and basically giving the middle finger to anyone who didn’t like it. her actions literally don’t harm a single person. she’s not promoting hate or violence and she’s not saying that anyone owes her anything or that she deserves to be put on a pedestal for her beliefs.
she told you what it was like to be her, and in turn a lot of you told her that she was a gross rude asshole.
Sigh…If I could somehow bottle what makes you..YOU..I’d be rich! This and you have fucking made my day!
I was really disappointed to read this response.
My comment certainly wasn’t meant to hurt or insult the author. It was meant to offer a counter point that not everyone agrees that loud sex in a public bathroom with the specific goal of making people aware of that sex is acceptable. There are a lot of behaviors that don’t actually harm people or promote violence that still aren’t acceptable to everyone, and that opinion deserves to be heard as much as the author had the right to submit her article and respond to the readers’ comments.
I feel the same way as catcircus. I’m going to reiterate what I said upthread: I support her identity, I support her membership in the community. I also support her speaking her truth.
But I support my right to stand up for people who aren’t comfortable in these scenarios, and they have the right to feel safe. While this post doesn’t actively promote violence (and I hope that nothing I said could be taken that way), someone can be wrong without promoting violence.
I’ll reiterate again: Just because she’s queer and doing something different doesn’t make it okay. This kind of behavior is and should be unacceptable for everyone, straight, queer, whatever.
My comments were meant to start a conversation about this subject. It’s one that has come up in my personal life a lot recently and so I took the opportunity to share how I felt about it. This kind of discourse is important to us as a community.
Nothing I have read here has been attacking the author personally. We disagree with her about something she does because she wrote about it and put it on the internet publicly. In that way, it is personal. No one is saying she should be ashamed of herself for having sex period, but only that she should consider others outside of her + her partner when she does so.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that if isn’t violent that makes it ok.
I will say that for my part, “crowing” upthread was a poor choice of words.
She’s already written in to say that she has heard our arguments and is considering them. That’s all I ask. This is the conversation I want to be having.
I certainly hope that if you’re reading this, dear author, that you aren’t sitting at home beating yourself up. You did a brave thing, putting something so personal on the internet. And even though I have issues with it, I do have respect for the fact that you were willing to put yourself out there. You’ve shown yourself to be open for discussion, which is more than a lot of people would have done.
“But I support my right to stand up for people who aren’t comfortable in these scenarios, and they have the right to feel safe.”
This made me uneasy as I was once cited for “Public Lewdness” for kissing my GF in Olive Branch Mississippi because “people around here have a right to feel safe and know their kids are safe from this..perversion”
“This kind of behavior is and should be unacceptable for everyone, straight, queer, whatever.”
This I just disagree with..
Guess that’s one more thing to love about this website..As much as we may have in common..We are all so very different
I agree with you, I enjoy the discourse and the conversation.
I would like to point out that in your case you experienced specific discrimination BECAUSE you were gay. If you were heterosexual, you wouldn’t have been cited most likely. And that’s the difference, there’s a double standard that you experienced.
This behavior that I’m talking about, is having sex publicly, making people uncomfortable on purpose, and not caring. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m not objecting to having sex, or even having sex publicly, but having sex and totally disregarding the feelings of others on purpose. I feel I should clarify that.
If all this anxiety expressed by people really IS orientation neutral, then yes, these are good points. The “mile high club,” car, closet, desk, etc. have been jokes and inevitabilities among straight couples for awhile now, so I don’t understand the outrage at a young queer’s writing of having done and enjoyed the same. I think a hint of anxiety at the article is panic at the level of sexual freedom she’s taking for herself. People are saying that’s not it, but I think some of it is.
She’s rejoicing in the handful of places she’s found where that kind of level playing field and ability to be free applies to her. And she already said these places were discreet and full of noise, so if you were in the adjoining stall there would be no feelings to hurt, because you wouldn’t hear her anyway.
I disagree. I think most people on this site are pretty sex-positive.
As someone who worked in restaurants and bars for a while, believe me, I am just as upset at straight couples who do this (there are plenty).
Maybe you’ll think I’m “panicked” about sexual liberation, but having to unlock a stall and physically separate a couple who had been in there for half an hour was disturbing, embarrassing, and triggering.
Honestly, I want you to have a good sex life. I just don’t want to be shoved into the middle of it.
At this point it’s pretty much all been covered. I really feel though, that a lot of the negative responses to this article are specific to not understanding person/place/time. I think if you’re not and have never been a twenty-something year old living in NYC, this is a tough article to get even though it’s an opinion piece. This IS QUINTESSENTIAL New York for the young queer person. You see things in NY you will NEVER see anywhere else in your life. And that affects you, your behavior & your attitude about things. Like the “f u, I’m gonna do what I want, when I want.” That’s TOTAL New York. Does that go down ok anywhere else? Probs not. Having been a twenty something year old queer in NYC a lifetime ago, I get it. But I can see why others who have not had that experience don’t get it. And I think the negativity is more about not understanding that and it’s unfortunately come off as personal attacks. No this shit does not fly in Oklahoma. But in NYC, it’s practically part of ones survival mechanism. (The attitude)
yes i agree with this totally! I made out in a LOT of bathrooms in New York when i lived there for six years as well as other places i can’t imagine hooking up in anywhere else. i actually wrote a whole article for nerve about how bathrooms were this quintessential new york situation for lesbians to hook up (also a great place to initiate a hook-up with a straight girl) but they said it was too general and now it’s at the bottom of a box somewhere. but yeah, like, i’ve seen someone get a blow job on a subway platform, so.
I was a single queer 20 something for years in NYC and never felt it was cool to occupy the bathroom having sex while people are waiting to piss or shit. It’s inconsiderate. And I’m not “sex shaming.”
oftentimes nobody is waiting
there is not always a line
and if a line forms while you’re in there
and somebody knocks on the door
then you leave
I totally understand making out and fooling around in the bathroom, but taking up time and making noise purely to piss people off was sorta the feeling I got, which doesn’t really seem terribly considerate to me but I’m not in her position. A lot of people play up their ‘don’t give a fuck’ for talking about stuff after the fact, so I feel like she’s probably a bit more considerate when she’s not bragging/talking about it afterwards.
I think you added the one thing that hadn’t really been said: part of the article (and the conversation that has started around it) IS cultural. Having certain attitudes and outlooks, regardless of where you stand on the issue, just come off differently depending on where you are and what you’re surrounded by.
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” That’s sorta how I feel about this. This may not be my thing/thing I want to walk in on, but kudos to the author for writing it and being honest (and for seriously being gracious and considerate of the opinions of others). Way to be truthful and real and open.
Oh, and have fun.
I was also a (line) editor on this piece and stand behind it.
Yes, there are issues of consent and harassment and bathrooms as politicized space. There have been entire books about bathrooms and queer space, and there is a reason for that. But this post is not about all of that — it’s about someone’s personal experience, which she is writing about on the Internet under her own name, which takes guts. It’s also about her views of her experiences, which takes even more guts, and which are not something everyone will agree with, but which should be respected all the same.
I’m not sure that’s true when part of it reads as an instructional guide for others, though.
You say her actions don’t harm anyone, but they do demonstrably harm people.
If she is taking up the single-bathroom I need to use, and I get a UTI because she wanted to get her jollies in a way that prevents other people accessing public accommodations, then she is doing very real harm to me and others.
If she is in a stall and being loud, and making it impossible for someone with anxiety issues to use the public accommodations that are there for everyone, she is doing real harm to that person.
Public washrooms exist for a reason, and it isn’t fucking. If you use them for something else in a way that prevents people from using them, you are harming people.
In case you didn’t know, due to femme-cluelessness, being able to use washrooms for their intended purpose is a huge fucking deal to a lot of queer people.
But no, apparently simply wanting to be able to use the washroom in peace makes people judgmental prudes.
If she is taking up the single-bathroom I need to use, and I get a UTI because she wanted to get her jollies in a way that prevents other people accessing public accommodations, then she is doing very real harm to me and others.
Is this a joke?
are you the same kinda asshole that would sue mcdonalds cuz you burnt yourself on your own goddamn coffee??
If you have to pee… go pee?
Why you gotta have a UTI about it?
Why wait ’til the last minute to go??
Let’s just be mad at everyone who ever prevented us from going potty. Rush hour traffic, long-winded relatives, church services, neurophysics class. Just GET MAD.
I mean, I have my own panic disorder when it comes to peeing in public, so um, thank you? for thinking of me? But mostly I just appreciate you having this hissy fit bc it was mad funny.
Side note: That McDonald’s case is actually a totally legitimate tort case. Documentary called “Hot Coffee” has the details, but basically McDonald’s served her boiling hot coffee that gave her third degree burns – way above and beyond what’s reasonable.
Why do you think I’m having a hissy fit? Because I said the “f-word”? Not everyone who uses harsh language is yelling at their screen.
I am not sure what you are suggesting I do by “just go pee.”
Go pee on the dance floor because someone is banging in the bathroom?
Magically predict that it will be occupied for a ridiculous amount of time and pee before I have any need to pee?
Be constantly in and out of the bathroom in case some idiot decides they desperately need a shag when I really do need to go?
And UTIs are really common because of the ridiculous idea that people somehow ought to “hold it” forever, when that is really unhealthy.
I wasn’t thinking of you, I was thinking of the people I know and actually care about who harm themselves by avoiding public washrooms. You can ruin your bladder/kidneys etc. all you want.
I don’t know, Shead — as somebody who has a proclivity towards UTI’s & doesn’t like public bathrooms to an extent that I can’t sensibly talk myself out of it, I can say it takes a lot of holding to get the former, and if I’m not enough of a self-regulating adult to use the latter when & to the extent that I should, it’s on me, not on anybody else. Even if I do wait until the absolute last moment and people happen to be screwing in it. That was on ME.
…And a voice of reason echos through the land..
seriously dude. simmer down. everyones gotten hella dramatic about this shit.
“Femme-cluelessness”? Excuse me but… wtf? Please don’t femme shame. Femme women may have cisgender privilege, but you know what privilege they don’t enjoy? Masculine privilege, which is very real, especially in the queer community. Femme shaming isn’t cool.
“The author’s shitty attitude towards the comfort of others is what made this post so perfect.” THIS!
All these people are arguing that she’s rude and “breaking the social contract,” but that’s the point! This is not a post about proper etiquette. It’s about one young woman’s experience and no-fucks-to-give attitude. She’s not trying to please. She’s reveling in her rudeness. We’re not all well-behaved saints at all times. That’s what makes people and life interesting.
I guess I just object to this whole sentiment on a personal level. I don’t think that rudeness and not giving a fuck about other people should be glorified as something great.
It’s an interesting perspective, I’ll grant that, but I’m not thrilled at the prospect of a whole bunch of people suddenly deciding that they don’t have to consider any one else’s preferences but theirs.
When I first started commenting today, the title of the post was “Public Sex is Radical Sex,” implying that this is behavior queers should engage in for the purposes of subverting “the man,” so to speak. This new iteration, where it’s merely an expression or reflection of an experience is more palatable to me. Context is important, I guess.
I still object to the idea of having sex publicly for the express purposes of making others uncomfortable, however.
I think the real divide lies here, in this conversation. The pursuit of bliss vs. the needs of the community. It depends on where you place yourself, and no ones minds are going to be magically changed from a momentary conversation in the comment section.
But I cannot emphasize enough, this conversation is important and it should be talked about.
i love laneia. that is all.
I’ve been reading the back-and-forth on this thread and I think most of the critiques of the original article are articulated in a way that doesn’t slut shame. Under my country’s law, it’d be sexual harassment for me to deliberately subject someone to pornography in say a workplace bathroom. Which means it’d also be sexual harassment for me to actually fuck in there knowing someone else would have to experience it with no say in the matter. As someone who supports harassment free public spaces how then can I say I’m ok with what the author is condoning? But I can’t see how that is slut shaming. There’s a pretty big difference between slut shaming and saying you think people shouldn’t be forced to have a sexual experience (yes, seeing or listening to others being sexual counts) and that anyone who disregards another person’s right to consent is being pretty damn inconsiderate.
I get that part of the appeal of this piece was that “was that she was being a total cunt and basically giving the middle finger to anyone who didn’t like it”. At the same time though when someone gives the middle finger, you’ve got to expect that the people they’re giving the middle finger to are probably going to get worked up about it.
ok seriously?? no. i don’t care who you are, i don’t care how you contributed to the article, this is not acceptable. and frankly? i don’t care who she is. i don’t care if she’s being honest about her life, if these are just her personal experiences or whatever. THIS IS STILL GROSS RUDE ASSHOLE BEHAVIOR.
you say “her actions literally don’t harm a single person.” we have repeatedly told you how we are or know people who are triggered by explicit sex. we have told you how we work low-paying menial jobs and then on top of that have to approach people who are fucking and make them leave our places of work. we have told you how this is harassment. how is that harmless?
you equate fucking in public to being queer. that does not work. one is forcing other people into your sex life. the other is a common and entirely publicly appropriate expression of affection that’s only even an issue due to homophobia.
and finally, you say that objecting to people making us uncomfortable is slut-shaming – and here, i think, is the crux of the problem, with this piece and with the modern sex-positivity movement in general. we are encouraged to have the most sex, to have the kinkiest sex, to have the most transgressive sex, but saying “that makes me uncomfortable” is not acceptable. saying “i don’t want to do that” is not acceptable. saying “no” is not acceptable among sex-positive people i’ve met, both online and irl. it means you’re a prude. it means you’re a backward, unenlightened puritan.
and here’s the thing: this renders sex positivity meaningless. if you’re not allowed to say “no,” then you cannot accept “yes.”
you want truly radical sex? give everyone a choice about it.
+1 to all of this. To turn people’s legitimate criticisms into a condescending lecture about how people who expressed their discomfort with this piece are assholes for shaming the author is fucking gross.
dear laneia, you said all the things i wanted to say in a lot nicer way than i ever could have.
i would think it would be tiresome to constantly find reasons to be offended using key words from your women and gender studies curriculum, but alas, i am proved wrong by these endless comments.
that was rude… laneia should take over.
I don’t think the problem with this article is the content.
Autostraddle consistently publishes articles that are relevant, complex, aware, and often just damn hilarious. I dont think that publishing something just because the author “was being a total cunt and basically giving the middle finger to anyone who didn’t like it” is a valid reason. Honestly, the article is just poorly worded, and not thought out. It reads like a thirteen-year-old’s livejournal. I was annoyed and offended while reading it, and I have sex in the bathroom all the time.
I’m just upset because Autostraddle is spectacularly awesome, and well, this article just isn’t.
This is a really disappointing response to legitimate concerns, Laneia, and I hope you do reconsider it. Consent is important. I have no doubt that you know that, but your comment that she isn’t harming a single person shows you haven’t considered it in this case.
As a commentor on Jezebel put it (yes, JEZEBEL was the more sane version of this conversation. let’s all think about that for a moment):
Saying that it is not okay to deliberately involve nonconsenting bystanders in your sex life (“be as loud as you want!”) is not slut shaming, it is asshole shaming.
So it’s radical to be unconcerned with other people’s consent? This is the same misogynistic bullshit women encounter every day. Other people forcing their sex acts on women who don’t want to participate. There is nothing radical about this because it’s a queer woman. She’s just a jerk who internalized the message that women don’t deserve the right to say no to participating in sex acts they don’t want to participate in. That asshole who touches me inappropriately at a club doesn’t give a fuck about my consent and like the author, he doesn’t care that it makes me uncomfortable. The creep guy jerking off in public is doing what turns him on. I don’t want to watch it, but he doesn’t care that it makes me uncomfortable and that I haven’t consented. The creepy guy who sits next to me on the bus and whispers sexual things at me doesn’t give a fuck that he’s making me uncomfortable.
As soon as she starts purposely fucking in front of people who haven’t consented, it’s no longer her personal experience or her personal feelings, because she’s forcing other unwilling people to participate. It’s not slut shaming to say that it is wrong. I don’t want to be forced to participate in her sex. I don’t want to forced to participate in any sex I haven’t consented to. A woman standing up and saying “I control what I participate in sexually and no one else should be able to force me to participate other sexual acts” doesn’t make us prude. It makes us radical. Not her; not the person who is forcing her sex on other people.
Laneia = Legend!
This article is personal yo.! It’s not easy being like HELLO TEH INTERNET THIS IS HOW I LIKE TO FUCK.
Also, are you the red head in the photo? You can totally do me in a bathroom… Or like, a bed, or under a tree… Or you know, wherever. The idea of a girl wanting to fuck me that badly is super hot.
When I was in high school me and my boyfriend used to cut class and find places to make out/fuck in. It was so liberating because I went to this intense private school. Rock on ;)
I agree with both sides. If the author wants to fuck someone in a public bathroom, I would say, ‘girl, you do you (or her)’.
But I also don’t think that voicing a dislike of the act is sex-
shaming, as she stated in her piece. It’s okay to disagree with the premise of the post without being thought of as judgmental or prudish.
Pubic sex is my radical sex.
Public sex wouldn’t be special if everyone at every bathroom bar were fucking. Then it wouldn’t be public sex, it would be a public orgy. kind of like that John Waters movie A Dirty Shame. Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of people being sexually liberated is really cool, but I just don’t think that encouraging people to make loud fucks in a bathroom stall is the way to do that. Sexual liberation is supposed to be a comforting, but exciting, experience. Thrusting your own sexual fantasies onto the public for the sake of “liberating” them is not liberating them. It’s your assumption that you know what is better for everyone, and that we’re a bunch of dumb, uncivilized apes.
but i thought bathrooms were private places, why are there stalls? why are there single large bathrooms?
i would only suggest that to prevent triggering someone- lock the door and if it doesn’t lock- don’t fuck.
if you’re trying to be subversive having sex as a queer persyn than you’re doing it, i think having queer sex is automatically subversive so there isn’t a need to hoot and holler or make extra loud noises just to prove that you’re being subversive. the point to being liberating IS to give a fuck because it’s not liberating to be another asshole not considering everyones feelings, you should care that people might not be able to do that as freely as you can since you appear as straight and are a cis white female.
and to catcircus regarding the social contract, why should we have to piss in stalls with our wieners sticking out while we’re standing near everyone? why should we have to take shits in bathroom stalls or fart obnoxiously loud in said stall? when did i agree to this?
we live in a time where leisha hailey can fuck an actress onscreen and bear her breasts and ass for those who choose to see but she can’t kiss her girlfriend on an airplane, how does that social contract make sense? we live in a time where any hetero white dude actor can fuck onscreen, again for those who choose to see, AND CAN MAKEOUT with whoever he wants wherever he wants and whenever he wants, how is that social contract equal?
I understand what you’re saying. I think my description of the social contract thing wasn’t clear, and I didn’t consider the context of the bars the author was describing. What I was trying to say about the social contract is that it should apply to everyone. What I didn’t say (and forgot to consider) is that that contract is specific to the context.
I think if straights are having loud sex in the public bathrooms at a particular bar all the time without any negative responses, everyone should be able to do the same thing without any negative responses. The same thing applies to people kissing, holding hands, etc in more public places. My thinking is that everyone has to abide by the same rules, but everyone gets to abide by the same rules. And if someone tells you that you can’t do something because of who you are, instead of where you are, then you have every right to complain/do it anyway/protest any other way. Re: Leisha Hailey, that flight attendant was totally wrong and people need to understand why the double standard isn’t right.
And context is important. I wouldn’t go to the Seattle Erotic Art Festival and get outraged because people are getting flogged, but I wouldn’t be okay with walking in on people having sex in the bathroom at Chili’s (at least, in the Chili’s I’ve been in). Then again, if you do it in a stall, lock the stall door, keep things quiet and in general keep it to yourselves, it’s not breaking the contract because you’re not taking away someone’s right to refuse to see/hear sex in a place where they wouldn’t expect to see/hear sex.
What I find unacceptable is when people break the social contract because they’re rude and think their desire to do whatever they damn well please overrides the tacit rules everyone else follows. Like cutting in line: we’ve all decided this is the fairest and most efficient way to wait for something and, while we’d all rather be served sooner rather than wait for someone else, we wait in line.
“What I find unacceptable is when people break the social contract because they’re rude and think their desire to do whatever they damn well please overrides the tacit rules everyone else follows.”
While I don’t disagree with you generally, I still think this is a cultural thing. See, in New York, there kinda are no rules or at least you can expect them to be thrown out the window. If a person has never lived there, I wouldn’t expect them to understand. Even a visit is not enough to really grasp the culture there (imho) especially if one never leaves times square for anything more than shopping or seeing the statue which is the typical tourist itinerary.
“Like cutting in line: we’ve all decided this is the fairest and most efficient way to wait for something and, while we’d all rather be served sooner rather than wait for someone else, we wait in line.”
Spend one day in Paris and you will realize that “all” of us have most certainly not decided this re: lines. Just like what we perceive to be rude waiters, they actually consider to be doing their jobs well.
This is all cultural misunderstanding.
I don’t think it’s a broad cultural thing. This smacks to me of Christian mouthpieces declaring that the nation is majority Christian, so the nation is culturally Christian, so everyone must follow Christian rules. It’s overgeneralized and completely disregards entire sections of the population.
Just look at this thread. There are a ton of people who feel similarly – that public sex in this manner (purposely irritating other people by being loud, etc.) is unacceptable. That is an opinion that they hold. And they, including myself, are perfectly within their rights to declare that behavior as unacceptable to them.
You’re saying that this behavior is acceptable because it’s culturally acceptable, but I know a number of people (including myself) who would disagree with you. Perhaps it’s acceptable in *your* cultural (and I don’t mean that rudely). We all have these little microcosms of culture within larger areas, in this case, cities. I participate in a group where it’s perfectly acceptable to interrupt each other in a conversation, steal food and alcohol from each other, and crash on each other’s couches without asking.
I wouldn’t dream, however, of imposing those cultural norms on people that aren’t part of my group and people I don’t already know are okay with that kind of assumptory behavior.
I don’t necessarily sign onto the social contract theory – I think that’s also too broad – but it does add something interesting to the conversation.
I think you misunderstood my comments. I was saying EXACTLY what you just said. That within the writer’s culture, this is acceptable behavior. I understand this because I was once part of that culture. I am not saying everyone else has to be okay with it. I am saying I don’t think it’s fair to beat up on the writer because this is not within the spectrum of acceptable behavior within YOUR culture. And that if people who are offended by this lived in New York in a particular time in their lives they might, MIGHT understand better where the writer was coming from even if the behavior is still not for them or something they’re ok with.
This is NOT about advocating for sex in public restrooms. It’s about trying to understand the perspective of someone who does engage in this behavior & enjoys it and what about it/why she enjoys it. Instead it’s become a judgement piece.
I see where you’re coming from, honestly. I would concede that people who object are being needlessly judgmental if the behavior wasn’t affecting anyone else, but it very clearly can and probably has.
I only wish people would at least consider how others might feel when confronted with someone else having sex. In the example she gives, someone is very clearly upset at having that space misappropriated. My intent was only to point out that that viewpoint is a valid one, and shouldn’t be dismissed so readily.
I really don’t think that the issue here is that some people aren’t New Yorkers and so can’t understand public sex and New York bathroom culture. To be honest, I think this idea that New York is so unlike other places that you must live there for X years to really understand it is kind of silly.
I have family in New York and I’ve spent a good amount of time there. I’ve also lived all over the US and in other countries, and New York is not THAT different. There are public restrooms in other cities. People are rude and inconsiderate in other cities. People disregard social “rules” all over the world. It’s not a New York thing.
I’m fine with the views in the article, except for the screaming loudly deliberately thing. That seems to cross a line into making others a non-consenting audience to your sex act as other have said.
Also, I’ve always thought the excitement of the bathroom stall sex scenario was for it to be a very naughty secret between the couple doing it. I’d suggest trying to keep the noise down (while doing things which would ordinarily turn it way up to each other) as a potentially sexier experience.
Ditto. Purposely being loud is an asshole-move, but the rest is fine.
Thritto. Keep the noise down, door locked, and fuck as hard as you can fuck until a line forms.
I’ve fantasized about sex in the bathroom…but the general bathroom smell always turns me off instantly. Perhaps if I was a bit drunk.
Are you near a bathroom?
No thank you, anti-higienic!
I take back what I originally said about you encouraging people to fuck loudly in public. I misread what you said. I still take issue with your general approach in this article though. Your article really comes across as trying to teach me a lesson because you know better than I do what is good for me, and that is fucked up. I say all of the power to you for liking what you like. Do keep in mind though, that public sex isn’t called public sex because it is for all to be involved with. It is called public sex because it is done in a space accessible to anyone who may stroll by.
I read through all of the comments and considered them pretty carefully, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there is totally NOTHING wrong with bathroom sex (as long as you clean up after yourself).
Sex is not something that is wrong, gross, dirty, vulgar, etc. It is a natural act. People do it. It doesn’t have to be “private”. I’m sorry if it offends you or you are triggered by it, but that doesn’t make it wrong. If I was physically assaulted, does that mean people don’t have a right to carry pocket knives in front of me? If I was a soldier with PTSD, does that mean people shouldn’t wear camo? If a dog attacked me can people not have dogs? I mean…why are we drawing the line at sex? Why should people expressing their sexuality be shamed for it? I agree with the poster who insinuated that it is a very slippery slope to say you can’t be subjected to ever hearing someone have sex or noticing someone having sex – are we allowed to wear provocative clothing? Talk about sex with our friends loud enough for you to overhear? Idk.
Being OBNOXIOUS is one thing – it’s rude to shout in a quiet place, it’s rude to take longer than your turn at something, etc. So in some ways loud sex in a bathroom can definitely be rude – if you’re screaming, if the line is long and you’re taking forever, etc. But it’s not because it violates “consent”.
A-FUCKING-MEN! This is perfectly expressed, and I agree with everything you’ve written.
We have to pick our battles. There is actual, serious sexual harassment in the world, which requires multi-pronged activist efforts to effectively combat. But being made to feel uncomfortable because you overhear some sexual moaning absolutely does NOT constitute sexual harassment.
Also, while we should always strive to be sensitive to the feelings and experiences of others, we should not be expected to constantly edit our behavior/speech for fear of triggering someone. Suffering anxiety, panic, and trauma is terrible, I get that, but if we are to live in the world, with all its diversity and complexities, we have to learn to cope. Obviously we should all do our best not to deliberately offend or trigger those around us, but I really don’t think the author is doing that by reveling in public bathroom sex.
If someone has a shy bladder or anxieties, bathroom sex would be preventing that person from using public accommodations for their intended purpose, which is a violation of their rights. Whether the author intends to do this is not the issue. It is the outcome that matters.
Surely people should do their best not to harm (it is not just offense or triggered trauma that comes from this, but actual bodily damage when someone is prevented from using the washroom by another’s behavior) people accidentally as well as deliberately?
People with anxieties take refuge in club bathrooms at 3 am in the morning? What?
This is entirely beside the point, since the article is telling people to have sex in bathrooms whenever and wherever, but if it is a single use or the only place with slightly muffled sound and they were dragged there by friends and can’t leave without them, then hell yes. A person with anxiety issues that would prevent them from urinating while someone is screaming and thumping in the next stall is a far cry from a complete shut-in.
And if we were to examine her examples rather than her general directives, she did prevent someone who actually needed the washroom from using it. Which does do physical damage to someone’s body, you know.
What kind of shit friends do you have? Anyone who’s got those kind of anxieties isn’t going to find refuge in a club toilet, at least no kind I’ve ever been to. Screaming and thumping is what you get in a club. As 0033232 said below, there’s a kind of consent that goes into visiting these establishments at night.
Also, no. If you’re going to be permanently damaged by not being able to use the toilet for 25 minutes then you have bigger problems.
This..Yes..I keep thinking “Where are these people going that chicks are having marathon sex in the bathrooms..Even on my best night I can maybe go for..” Uh never mind that last part..But I think you can hang in there for the 25 minutes it takes her to get her rocks off.
No where are you guaranteed the right to use a restroom. NO WHERE. Especially not in NY. If you are not a patron you will have a hard time using the restroom there. All New Yorkers figure out their spots to stop in an emergency on their regular routes just because it is so difficult to find one. In fact, pre-Giulliani, there was rampant public urination (mostly by men of course) because of lack of public facilities. He made it a crime to urinate in public without actually addressing the problem.
JMo is right, for at least 3 years the only public restroom in soho was at wendy’s and it was like basically a swamp of toilet paper and drugs… i also agree with applecore and mandy.
Well, if there are no real public health and safety regulations where you live, then that is a problem, not an excuse to make things worse for people.
At this point, I can only assume you’re a troll but I’m going to play along for now.
Public health & safety has NOTHING to do with providing public restrooms, at least, not in the U.S. and FOR SURE not in New York. Clearly you’ve never been there.
You’re really big on this peeing thing, aren’t you?
I am really big on people’s, especially minorities’, right to safely access public accommodations, and on sufficient availability of said accommodations. That is a big deal to some people.
As previously mentioned, there are virtually NO public facilities in NYC. Unless it has been designated as public, which would be contracted between the city gov’t. & the establishment, a restroom in a bar, restaurant, club, hotel lobby (not one’s own room), etc. is actually PRIVATE PROPERTY. If an establishment is selling food &/or drinks they must provide one FOR PATRONS ONLY. They are not required to provide use to ANYONE who is NOT a patron. You can literally be walking by about to pee your pants and if they say you can’t use it unless you buy something THEY HAVE THAT RIGHT!!!
The facilities are referred to as public in the building code, and for “customers, patrons and visitors.” Businesses that are expected to be utilized by the public are not treated the same as truly private spaces. This is what the code says. I don’t live in New York, so this may go unenforced, but the letter of the law suggests that they do not have that right.
Yes, but if it’s private property, you are also doing something wrong. It’s like bringing food into a restaurant- they can say you can’t do it. Just as a bar presumably isn’t okay with you sexing in its bathrooms unless it explicitly tells you.
Just because you get away with it doesn’t make it cool to violate anothers property. I mean, even if you clean up such that I have no knowledge, it wouldn’t be okay to break into my place and sex in my bathroom
“being made to feel uncomfortable because you overhear some sexual moaning absolutely does NOT constitute sexual harassment”
at least where I live, if that occurred in a workplace or educational setting, then hell yes it constitutes sexual harassment of anyone who is forced to put up with it. legally speaking.
yeah but there’s a difference between a club and a workplace
fair point, though I think it’s also worth noting that clubs ARE a workplace.
Nah, that doesn’t make sense, because drinking alcohol and grinding and making out and loud music and songs with offensive lyrics and all the things people wear on Saturday night would probably be considered off limits at most workplaces as well, but not at clubs. Either context is everything or, arguably, you could call into question whether your cubicle job is really the atmosphere you want to replicate in a free and open society ;p.
Yes! And in the same line of thinking (I’m surprised I haven’t seen this commented on yet), people use bathrooms for drug use. From smoking a joint in a portapottie, to shooting up up heroin. That’s one of the reasons why a public restroom in San Francisco is hard to find. As someone who went through recovery, witnessing drug use or simply being around those drugs can be triggering. Everyone seems to be commenting re: the politics around having sex in a public bathroom (which confuses me, because there is SUCH a stereotype of sex in bathroom when it comes to gay male bars), and rights being violated, when there is this very real reason why public restrooms aren’t available in certain areas.
Plus, Michelle Tea vividly writes about having sex in a bar bathroom in Valencia, which was a text I thought was universally loved by queer women.
word. thank you.
you do you…and write about it if you want to. Our whole environment is becoming hyper-sexualized, given the writer is in a bathroom cubicle well then, we hear and even see and listen to a whole lot worse through pop-culture without complaint and sometimes even voluntarily.
Turtle, your comments segue into a key aspect of bystander consent as I understand it.
There a certain public spaces more than others that one anticipates to find people really enjoying one another’s company: dark stands of woods in an urban park after dark, college campus library ‘private’ study rooms or between lesser-trafficked stacks, campground showers at 2am, and bar bathrooms certainly come to mind. I mean, those spaces are freaking tropes, aren’t they? The first time I finally glimpsed two people going at it through the window of a private library study room I thought, “whew, world makes sense,” and I can’t tell you HOW many times working the night shift cleaning campground washrooms I nonchalantly called into the showers, “Hey, guys, can ya finish soon so we can clean in there?” If the couple were shy they’d be dead-silent and sneak out, red-faced, when they thought we were gone. The more entertaining ones would finish loudly to our cheers and applause. Anyway.
Just as when you’re flipping through TV channels after 10pm you are aware you might inadvertently view some enthusiastic nudity, or when you’re Googling… Well, when you’re Googling just about ANYTHING there are bound to be a few shockers, when you’re in a bar in a city late at night, isn’t there a part of your brain that says, “likelyhood of sexytimes happening in bathroom: moderate” ?
What I’m getting at is, the author isn’t proposing enthusiastic sex in a totally unexpected venue. We’re not talking McDonald’s bathroom at 12pm on a Saturday. We’re not even talking somewhere that anyone under the age of 21 is legally allowed to be. If it’s really the sort of thing that is going to disrupt your night, bother you, or trigger you, it’s moderately avoidable. Send a scout in first.
I was always a little confused at the people who were really offended when they found bugs in the campground washrooms. Middle of the woods, lots of insects, doors opening and closing, inviting lights: yeah, we’d do our best to keep bugs out because they weren’t supposed to be there and some people are really bothered by them, but doesn’t part of you kind of expect to see the odd cricket or moth floating around a campground bathroom at night? If you’re really worried, you send someone in first to scout.
You can see where this analogy is going. Just like campground washrooms attract bugs, bars in cities attract horny people with lowered inhibitions. Expect to find a few in the dark corners.
(WARNING: POSSIBLE TRIGGER FOR BODILY FLUIDS PHOBIA BELOW)
I used to have an awful phobia of vomit, so I avoided bars altogether because I couldn’t handle the possibility. Cleaning campground washrooms for four years is one way to re-explore and re-irrationalize that type of phobia. Turns out I couldn’t care less about cleaning poo off the walls, so I made a pact with my team that I would clean the much-more-frequent poo art if they’d tackle the vomit. Worked like a charm.
This was really great comment. It also made me imagine how adorable an autoharp song about bugs in campground bathrooms would be.
So, cleaning showers at night with leaky equipment in summer-issued government uniforms was a less than ideal aspect of the job. There was this one hose nozzle that didn’t leak. I began to hide it from the day shift and even got a holster for it to keep it on my person at all times. I asked my teammates what I should name it, and my friend Jon gave a suggestion, and my other teammate said, “Don’t encourage her, Jon.” So I named the nozzle, “Don’t encourage her, Jon,” or “Don’y” for short. So I made Don’y a nametag and kept him in the fridge in the Maintenance lunch room, because that seemed like a perfectly reasonable place to keep a nozzle in a holster. And I guess there was a lifer on Maintenance on days named Donny. And he was confused, but flattered that someone had named a hose nozzle after him. There was also something to do with a taxidermy raccoon and squirrel running gag in the fridge, but I forget how that ties in.
Anyway, um. In my life, there’s usually some sort of voice of reason who warns not to encourage me. That doesn’t happen, here.
ok, this comment (and your previous comment) win. i really agree that people walking into club bathrooms in the middle of the night tend to be aware of what could be going on in there.
All of this, basically.
This is a bit off-topic, but I would like to take this opportunity to alert everyone to this delicious column about public sex written for Esquire by the inimitable Mary-Louise Parker: http://www.esquire.com/features/Dilemmas/sex-in-public-0409
Hey Isabelle! I just want to say I love everything about your post, and as a fellow 20-something, femme-presenting queer girl, I found your last line about aggressively fucking women in bathrooms empowering! You are a powerful, confident, inspirational woman to be able to fuck how you want and to write how you want! I hope you keep on telling your stories. Even though people are offended by your article, I hope you don’t get discouraged and that you keep on writing because this article has helped me to feel confident and happy about who I am! Thank you :)
This! I really liked the article and while I see validity in many of the concerns people have brought up (that is, the politely expressed concerns. Not the rude ones!), I hope you (Isabelle) don’t let it discourage you from writing more or from writing honestly. You get yours.
I once had a ridiculous drunken night that ended up in my hooking up with a girl I’d just met in the bathroom of a club. The stall doors and walls went all the way to the floor so nobody could see into them, an we were both femme-presenting so nobody looked at us twice. It was awesome, and hot, and silly. I highly recommend it.
Hi Isabelle, thank you for writing this piece and sharing your experiences. It’s been really interesting to read, and, along with the comments, very thought-provoking. So…just wanted to say thank you, and I hope to read more of your work!
Isabelle, your article is on fire girl! Be proud of that!
For those od you who are offended by the idea of public sex: Don’t do it..If you walk inon it: Go ahead and voice your outrage/disgust/anxiety whatever..If you get a UTI because of the ONE night you had to wait to use the bathroom because 2 chicks were getting it on in there: You have bigger medical issues than just a UTI..For those of you who are so sure your right, who speak with such utter certainty that this is just wrong and anyone who partakes in it ever is inconsiderate, or slutty or just somehow beneath you: You are seriously reducing the number of prospects in your potential dating pool, so be aware of that..If however, you take the position, that you’re right, and we who admire the authors openness, honesty, and who really liked this w/o feeling judgement or disgust: The republican party wants you to know they hold the rights to that and they’re not willing to share it with a bunch of gender-bending queers.
It’s a first-person essay..I enjoyed it..I like the “idea” of just not giving a fuck for once..Not thinking..Not worrying…That kind of “freedom”..She has sex in bathrooms..SOMETIMES..You walk in on her, say “hey Isabelle, I gotta pee..You mind?” and get on with your life..She isn’t suggesting you join in..She isn’t saying it’s the best thing ever go do it..She isn’t pulling the wings off of butterflies or stomping on kittens..She’s one writer..Expressing one thought in one essay..
UTIs are common because of a multitude of problems with insufficient bathroom access, which the author is simply exacerbating.
She did prevent someone who needed one of the two single-use public washrooms in a building, and did not leave to let that person use it, and she dismisses any criticism of this unacceptable behaviour as “slut-shaming.”
I love bathroom sex, although I’ve always been a party in stall-sex. I’m not ashamed to say I have it often and that I enjoy it for a whole host of reasons but the bottom line is, sex with other ladies in spaces dominated by all sorts of binaries. The bathroom does tend to be a situation queer individuals struggle with. For me, I’m upset the gaylady bar doesn’t have a backroom. Gay men get backrooms! I want one too! But other issues (and probably more pressing issues, I can admit) is the fact that gendered bathrooms force us all in binaries that we exist outside of more often than not.
I feel like one of things that hasn’t really been discussed in the comments is the sheer amount of kink!shaming. The article doesn’t express a love for watersports or scatplay but the comments that exclaim PEE, POOP AND MENSTRUAL BLOOD ARE FOR THE BATHROOM AND NOT SEX, you’re implying that those two things can’t be involved in sex. Which is unfair. It’s may not be involved in your sex but it certainly can play a large role in other peoples. I had a girlfriend who loved all sorts of bodily fluid play and I wasn’t really on board but I wanted to see if we could work it into our sex lives without making me uncomfortable. Turns out, just being in a bathroom was enough for her and I spent a lot of my relationship with her getting to know the local bar (most of them not queer) bathrooms.
While I acknowledge that public sex might make you feel uncomfortable because of bystander consent (how is this necessarily different than having thin-walls where you can hear your neighbor having sex or, more commonly, dorm-sharing or having sex at parties; or doing drugs in public places?) and that some express issue with the fact that you’re being unnecessarily rude to those who occupy that space as a job-sphere: those are all legitimate concerns that I would suggest you make sure you address before you have bathroom sex, because that might make it difficult for you.
I’m going to keep having bathroom sex because I think those spaces can be empowering too. They might seem scary for some but it doesn’t have to be that way. But maybe two girls banging in the stall will distract the ridiculous and ignorant people worried about the rest of my crew, who aren’t fitting into their gendered bathrooms and we’ll get by alright that night. I’d like to think sex and bathrooms can be progressive or radical or whatever to some people.
Maybe I just like to fuck in bathrooms.
I’m kinky, though I have no experience with fluid play, and I don’t think any of the comments above were kink shaming. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to have been on people’s radar. People are saying that public toilets are for peeing / pooping / menstrual needs, not for sex. That doesn’t mean they’re saying that sex can never involve body fluids. Just that a public bathroom ain’t an appropriate place to fuck, however you like to do it.
Also, plenty of people who aren’t into kink have sex involving menstrual blood. Just saying.
It’s fascinating to me that this article caused a polemic. Truthfully, I never would have anticipated it. Bathroom sex (and other public sex) is right up there with hiding Seventeen Magazine under my bed as a preteen in terms of evolving a queer identity. It’s integral. I appreciate the discourse, but had to throw my hat in on the side of “wow, I thought we all did this.” I did.
I think that’s the problem. Not everyone *does* do this, and not everyone thinks it’s okay. I think the goal of a lot of people, including myself, are asking that you and people who feel similarly consider the fact that lots of people are negatively affected when confronted with other people’s sex lives with out their consent.
I think part of my discomfort about hearing people get down and dirty in stalls is not ultimately with the idea that you’re forcibly intruding on me, but that you’re forcing me to intrude on you. If I hear two people going at it, my discomfort is because they may be thinking that they’re doing this semi-privately and semi-quietly but yet here I am in the middle of their experience. They didn’t ask me to watch, so I don’t feel okay listening.
And yes, I consider ‘not caring what others think or feel about possibly hearing this, and having no interest in finding out’ as a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to everyone in the vicinity (and no, not a ‘fuck you in a bathroom stall next?’.. heh). It’s even a bit of a ‘fuck you’ to people who may have been okay with it, because you still don’t care if they weren’t.
*Should* people care about hearing this stuff though? I guess you feel ‘no’. And it’s true- we all individually make personal decisions about appropriateness all the time, eg. we may choose to swear because we don’t think a word is ‘that bad’.
Who makes the calls with this stuff, really?
I guess this is perhaps where the extra considerations of a) the very serious potential for triggering unwanted experiences in sexual assault survivors and b) the fact that using this particular risky-therefore-hot public space (of all the risky-therefore-hot public spaces) for sex can be super inconvenient for people who need to actually use the toilet (and sometimes there aren’t many toilets, and sometimes there is a line, etc).
However, with point a), I also see value in the above points re the question: ‘what is the point that we stop catering for people because it means potentially micromanaging our lives and restricting us from making choices that are positive or even healing for us just because they are negative for others?’
Another good question. However, I would say that the possibility of triggering someone with said actions is one that I would take incredibly seriously and has undoubtedly strongly influenced my views about ever ever doing this, it’s true. But I’m sure it’s something that you’ve been thinking about too (esp. with these comments!), and I appreciate your reading of the dialogue here and response to it.
I would like to say that I both struggle to relate to the idea of not caring for other’s feelings/potential trauma-inclusive histories re: hearing sex whilst *also* really wanting to say that I found it inspiring, as a woman, to read another woman so tenaciously stating what she finds hot and that she plans to pursue her desires and become exactly the person she wants to be. I may not be a huge endorser of public bathroom sexual activity (for reasons above) but I’ll say thanks for writing sharing your story and perspective regardless, because there is something very brave in that and something that says ‘You Do You’, to us, in that. (And it has also led to some seriously excellent discussion!). So thankyou for your words and for sharing a piece of you, and I would be interested to read more of what you have to say in future (even if we once again may disagree ;) ).
And thanks to the team also for another great thought-provoking article!
(Also yes, Australians often refer to the-room-with-the-toilet-in-it as ‘the toilet’ and not ‘the bathroom’.. that is the often-seperate room usually with the basin and shower and/or bathtub, unless the toilet is IN the bathroom in which case the room would be called the bathroom but if you needed the toilet you would still often say ‘I’m going to the toilet’ (or loo, etc). Savvy?)
Also yes, I acknowledge that my beef is that this action says ‘fuck you’ but also that yes, that’s the whole point and it says it to me and all my opinions about it too. That’s also funnily enough part of what I appreciate about this article, even as I find this particular action’s form of ‘fuck you’ rather more ‘fuck you’-y to everyday Joanne and Joe Blo than I think I’d personally be willing to say by doing them myself.. but once again, you perhaps don’t care! So I’ll at least say thanks for sharing your thought-provoking piece regardless (hopefully appreciation at least counts for something eh ;)).
every time i look at the little kitten default picture, i think of “I wish we could all get along just like we used to in middle school.” which is relevant. discourse = good. suggesting she is of poor character = probs not good.
My summary of this article and its writer and her defenders:
I’m edgy! New York is soooo different than the rest of the world! I’m a privileged white woman who doesn’t worry about getting arrested for my illegal behavior! It never occurs to me how I make people feel. I’ve never worked a service job!
I appreciate your dialogue! I am taking it into account…because the ultimate privilege is that I get to decide which pieces of feedback I want to engage with! I am privileged and I ultimately control this conversation and how much I want to change myself. Did I mention that I just ooze privilege and self-satisfaction and that privilege is not inherently a bad thing but maybe my use of it is?
could you be any more self righteous?
My summary of your comment:
baseless and vitriolic assumptions about other people.
oooh… no… boo. too many, very large, most like very false, assumptions being made here. somebody has a small[large] chip on their shoulder, eh?
Honestly, my first response to this comment was to literally laugh out loud..Then of course I wondered who pissed in your cornflakes this morning..Now I’m back to amusement over the idea of someone so obviously pretentious calling out someone on their presumed sense of privilege.
When people do shit like this and don’t worry about getting arrested (because they KNOW they are not who the police targets), you bet I make assumptions about them. Newsflash: assumptions are not always baseless. And when a writer writes such an article (obviously designed for schock value), she needs to be be ready for a critical examination of her voice and tone.
Feel free to be angry that I called her out on her sense of entitlement to do whatever the fuck she wants, yet I find it pretty hard to argue that this article didn’t display an incredible level of entitlement and generally obnoxiousness.
Oh, and you have no concept of me or my family’s privilege or pretentiousness or lack thereof (or whether I have a chip on my shoulder or whether possible chip relates to my own history of consent and/or working in the service industry), but thanks for playing!
Perhaps by wasting my words on this comment I played into this writer’s desire to get even more overexposure. Oops.
the problem with your comment is that putting words into someone’s mouth to construct a strawman you can rail against, which is what you have done, is not the same thing as critically examining the original piece.
I am aware that not all assumptions are baseless. Yours were. If you’re going to make the kinds of interpretative leaps you have, then you need to back up your reasoning when you do it. Unless of course you’re happy being that person who gets off on spewing bile on the internet.
♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ Sometimes your comments make me…dizzy
People like you make me want to… digger deep when I write things ;)
As someone who has cleaned an unfathomable number of washrooms in the service industry, I gotta say, sex-in-a-stall rates so low on the inconvenience scale so as to actually not be inconveniencing at all, but a highlight of interest. Kudos to you, entertaining and shameless late-night stall-lovers.
Seriously am I the only person who agrees wholeheartedly with this comment? This piece is dripping with unacknowledged privilege.
even if anyone agrees with you, there are multiple editors repeatedly stating that they wholeheartedly support this entire post, despite multiple people having good criticisms of it and it being the laughingstock of jezebel…so no one is really going to rally behind you, unfortunately. we’re all just gross slut shaming prudes who don’t live in new york or something.
Radical, to me, is a word with particular political implications. By saying something is radical, you imply that it’s challenging systems of oppression. That you are taking a positive stand against the injustices of the world. This is where I disagree, and where I think others are getting worked up. As soon as you bring politics into the conversation, it opens up the doorway to talk about how this activity relates to other forms of oppression. That’s why so many people are bringing up the issue of triggers, access to public facilities, and the perspective of service workers.
I think it’s great that you find this type of sex empowering, know what you want, and don’t feel the need to apologize for your desires. And I feel uneasy about the amount of negative comments on your character that are going on in the above comments. On the other hand, having sex in bathrooms has so many potentially negative effects for other people trying to use the bathroom that I personally don’t think it’s accurate to call it “radical”.
Exactly. I feel like the majority of people who agree that this is something that is “no big deal” fall into one of two categories: 1) I like it and it gets me off, and that makes it okay and 2) I’m queer and making a political statement, and that makes it okay.
It’s not okay, though. Not really. When you defend the violation of bystander consent you’re actively contributing to the systematic oppression of other people – people who are triggered, service workers, people with social anxieties.
And this is not slut shaming. Not even close. Slut shaming looks like something in the next paragraph.
(Trigger warning: rape, unkind words)
This is what I would say if I were slut shaming: “Only dirty whores have sex in public bathrooms loudly where everyone can hear you and you deserve every bad thing that happens to you as a result of it.” If two girls were beaten and raped because someone found them having sex in a bathroom and objected, that would be very much not okay. But if I agreed with the act, saying that’s what they got because they were having sex, that would be slut shaming. I don’t feel this way at all.
Queer sex is great, it’s fun, it’s cool. But just because you are queer doesn’t mean that you get a free pass to do whatever you want because you’re a victim of systematic prejudice. Don’t add to the problem for other people.
You’re not some special butterfly just because you’re queer that gets to make life difficult for everyone else just because you’re the victim of other’s oppression in all cases and all the time. This is not a matter of life or death for you. It’s a matter of common courtesy.
I’m disappointed that people would attack criticisms of this piece by saying that they’re “slut shaming assholes.” If this little chunk of the internet is a place for discussion and discourse about issues that can affect the queer community, I feel like 99% of the criticisms here are appropriate comments. If it’s a giant circlejerk where no one is allowed to point out that there might be something morally wrong with the behavior being glorified, then maybe that should be more clear.
I thought this post was very well written- I also want to add
‘3) hot bathroom sex isn’t inherently bad so people who experience it secondhand shouldn’t think it is either, and that makes it okay’
(although I do also feel uncomfortable with ‘special butterfly’ and some of the tone- I wish we could all bake a cake made out of rainbows and smiles… but still. Some good points in here).
Bathroom sex can be super hot. And yes, I’ve been kicked out of a gay bar for doing it in a stall there. Mainly because there were all of about 10 other people there, and it’s pretty obvious when the two femmes canoodling on the dance floor just disappear for fifteen minutes. The bouncer came into the bathroom (there was no one else in there) and kicked us out of the bathroom, not the bar. We chose to leave out of embarrassment. Had there been other people in the bathroom, or more than two other girls in the entire bar, I would have stopped immediately. Just because of who I am. I can only do a certain level of subversive “could we get caught? teeny possibility? ok. possibility over like 10%? nope.” Personally, I’m all for other people having fun in the bathroom, just please keep it quiet.
Damn, some of you folks are really uptight. I’ve fucked in a good number of straight bars, queer bars, restaurants, house parties, even in an ally once. Sex is wonderful and amazing and should be had between consenting partners anywhere they damn please. I think a lot of the negative commenters’ views directly stem from our American sex-negative, sex-shaming culture and are using sexual trauma as a crutch argument to discredit the author’s sex-positive post about reclaiming her pleasure. Many of us have been through sexual trauma, including myself, but damn whatever happened to live and let live? People who want to have sex are having it, how wonderful! And if you don’t want to listen to it maybe you should use the other bathroom.
What if there is no other bathroom?
Women are always under so much pressure to ‘THINK OF EVERYONE ELSE, THAT’S YOUR JOB LADIES’. And to not make mistakes or have real faults – ‘EMPOWERED 21ST CENTURY LADIES HAVE THE BEST JOB/MAKE UP/BODIES/RELATIONSHIPS/DEGREES’. There are millions of adored male anti-heroes but they have hardly any female counterparts! Doing bad things and having bad qualities doesn’t make a man bad; it makes him ‘interesting’ or ‘complex’. But when women behave the same way we are demonized!!
Whether you think bathroom sex is right or wrong I think its upsetting that a women writes a personal essay and so many comments are not responding to her feelings/ what she has said but are saying – “Think of other people lady!”
Even if you have lots of anti-public sex feelings (fair enough – consent is something we should never stop talking about) the tone in some of the comments has been weird and feels like an attempt to invalidate Isabelle’s own feelings/thoughts.
I would have the exact same thing to say if a man wrote this post.
except the comments haven’t been “think of other people because you’re a woman,” they’ve been “think of other people because you’re a person and they’re people too.”
I haven’t commented on the content of the article because I have far too many feelings on the subject. However, I’ve seen two ‘editors’ of this piece say they stand by it having made two (from what I’ve noticed) changes after it was published, and I’m just not down with that.
I think this frustrates me more than anything. It totally changes the tone the conversation and makes any criticism out of context.
the changes that were made to the article were that we added one word to the title and changed the category of the post — this had no impact whatsoever on the content of the post. not one word or sentence was altered. i frequently change titles/headlines and re-categorize mis-categorized posts after they’ve been published. not my own stuff or stuff i edited, but stuff other people did and published w/o my involvement. that’s what i do as an editor-in-chief. i’m sorry, but we’re still learning and growing as a team, and that means there are a lot of kinks that need to be ironed out and a lot of places where i’ve failed to effectively communicate my expectations. i probably changed like 5 titles last week within an hour or two of them being published because i didn’t like what they came up with (often the writers actually explicitly ask me to fix their title as soon as i get a chance) — and titles/categories have always been the editors’ realm, officially, not the writers. like in all of journalism.
however, i may have made the wrong call here, i’m open to that. sometimes I think I’m doing what’s best and I turn out to be totally wrong about that and this could very well be one of those times.
I understand the need to fix mistakes, I just felt that on this occasion that one word added to the title changed the context of the article and made many of the valid comments appear irrational, or even like a personal attack, when I don’t think that was anyone’s intention.
I know. I’ve said it before, I hate post edits when they occur done during threads, particularly those that invoke lots of feeeeelinnngssss. I say let them be, warts and all–whether it is the replies or the original article.
Those two small edits had a huge impact on the context of my earlier comments. It went from a Queer/Here post with a ode to public/bathroom sex to a personal narrative about one’s experiences. That’s how I perceive the changes. I’m really irked because I wasn’t attacking her experiences, but pointing out that advocating really loud obnoxious public sex as something progressing and beneficial to the queer community is way outside (for me) what should be acceptable.
If this originally were a post about how one time she had really loud obnoxious bathroom sex, I don’t think I’d have nearly as many feelings about it. Maybe a couple, but probably not even enough to comment.
I really, really hate people who use the only bathroom in an establishment to have sex. I’m disabled. I can’t stand around waiting for you to finish subverting heterosexism, I have to piss. If you’re going to be rude and have bathroom sex, fine, whatever. Just don’t do it in the only bathroom there, or in the fucking handicapped stall.
As a rape survivor, seeing my torture and its lasting psychological sequels being described here as “a crutch argument” or “a catchword learned in gender studies” makes me want to scream and throw up. And telling me that I should just get the fuck over it because it’s more important for other people to get off and hey life is hard, seriously? I’m not fond of vulgarity, but the only thing I can say is : fuck you. You’re not being radical or subversive or sex-positive, you’re just being inconsiderate assholes.
When homophobic douchebags say that queers should just learn to cope with homophobia and bullying because asking people to stop is invasive and micromanaging and there’s just so few of us anyway, and when they say that we should respect their offensive opinions and actions because they’re being oh so brave to publicly stand for them, we get pissed off – and rightfully so.
But when a queer does the exact same things, we’re supposed to cheer for them? No. Fuck that. That’s hypocrisy and double-standards, and I don’t care who you like to get down with, it doesn’t make it any more ok.
I’m not asking other people to stop having sex or talking about sex, I’m asking them to stop forcing actual sexual acts on me without my consent. If you think that is too much to ask of you, please go build a hut in the woods and spend the rest of your life there – you’re not fit for society.
what a bizarre place for a flame war.
This isn’t a flame war… This is a discussion with many different opinions. If any conversation that involves differing viewpoints counts as a flame war, this may not be the place for you.
have you…read…the above comments?
also, i may have missed it but i don’t see one single person claiming that they themselves are traumatized by people fucking in club bathrooms. i see a lot of people using their assumptions about other people’s trauma to make a point.
It’s funny because you obviously haven’t even bothered to really read this thread. Look up a couple of posts, it’s there.
For those who call it liberating. I’m not going to argue or anything. But my favorite space for the idea of queer liberation sex is definitely the closet. Thanks Angela Robinson.
Thank you for the comments. Many of you have persuaded me that bathroom sex can be fucked up because that kind of sexual behavior can trigger people.
I wanted to clarify for those who have been speaking about the edits made to this piece, that the original title that I submitted was “Doing Femme, Bathroom Sex in Bars and Attempting to Radicalize My Roommate”–the title attached to this piece was written by the editors and is not one that I would have personally chosen.
As for the content of the piece and the criticisms of the sexual behavior being seen as an exercise of privilege because I don’t have to be concerned about being arrested. I’m not going to delve into every aspect of simultaneous oppressions and privileges that I experience and how I relate to the legal system; I left these things out for a reason. I will say that if I were to get caught and arrested that I could face dire consequences.
hey. you’ve been p cool through this, keep on keepin on
Hi Isabelle, I really like the way you’ve handled yourself throughout this post. You put yourself out there and when other people critiqued what you brought you were open-minded and mature enough to think about what they were saying and take it on board when you thought they had good points. I’m sorry that some people have felt the need to chime in insults and accusations, I hope these haven’t gotten to you too much. What you wrote was well-crafted, bold and engaging, I’d like to see more of your work.
I really hoped that the comments would be full of hot bathroom sex stories. Let me live vicariously through you guys. (I tried to have bathroom sex once but the bathroom was too well lit and people kept coming in so we’d shush and it was just awkward).
Also, T’s in Chicago has a strict one person per bathroom rule, so that’s never gonna happen for me there…sigh.
Forget bathroom sex then..Might I suggest Movie Theater sex..Or as I stated earlier, my college roommate swore by the ladies changing room at Macy’s! Just pick a non-traditional locale and a partner in “crime” (as is apparently the general consensus here) and get your freak on!
A public sex haiku:
gay bar back alley
might also be some gay boys
whatevs, you do you.
That really..Touched me..Pun intended
Being upset that someone is having sex in a public restroom has nothing to do with slut-shaming. I don’t care if you want to have sex in your own bathroom, with 9 people at once, or while you’re hanging upside down from a ceiling. I am the most sex-positive person possible. I do care about being forced to be a part of someone else’s sexual encounter without my consent. Thats not fair, and it’s annoying because when I drink I have to pee every ten minutes.
If you really had to piss and there was a dude in the bathroom jerking off would you be annoyed? Have sex in a place that isn’t an inconvenience to others.
Public sex is mildly annoying. This article was extremely annoying.
I do not like Jezebel, but I love the comments about this article on Jezebel.
I love Jezebel, and I love the comments about this article on Jezebel.
It’s good to know there’s a part of the internet that hasn’t totally gone of the deep end.
Yeah, they said all the you go you edgy hipster!!! eyeroll crap I wanted to say…before I saw two editors here talking about how its totally cool and okay because its like, NEW YORK and somehow bystander consent and being nice to others just doesn’t apply there.
A couple things… (Trigger warning)
1. I’m not an editor here and I am the one who put the New York theory forward. Riese chimed in to second that idea.
2. I never actually said I was cool or ok with this, just that I UNDERSTOOD it & the writer’s perspective. Truth is, I see both sides. I personally have never had sex in a public restroom. I have made out in them & had sex in other taboo places. We did not try to be loud or make a statement or leave a mess. It was for us, not anyone else. I’m ok with that. If you’re not, I’m sorry.
3. There absolutely is NO bystander consent in NYC for anything. Spend any significant time there and there will be serious crimes committed against all your senses. I guess you missed Riese’s recounting of witnessing a blow job on a subway platform. I personally witnessed a hetero couple well into their fifties having full on penetrative sex IN THE STREET. And they were plenty loud and not really trying to hide anything. You may not ever be assaulted physically, but your entire being will be. I’m sure neither of us have even scratched the surface in terms of things we’ve witnessed/experienced whilst living in NY.
4. There are nice people in New York. Are they the majority? No. Will they be nice to you generally? Ehhh…. not necessarily. It’s not Mayberry. Being nice in NY just doesn’t apply. It’s phenomenal when it happens but the expectation of it to be standard will lead to disappointment.
I say these things because they’re reality. IN NY. Not because I think it’s cool or okay that New York is a badass, lowdown, dirty, disgusting cesspool of inhumanity. It’s not ok when it’s like that. But it IS REALITY. That’s why people leave. If one can grasp that reality then maybe, just maybe the writer’s perspective doesn’t seem so damn horrible!
Don’t believe me? Go spend some time in NY. I promise, you won’t change it, but it will change you.
(Brought to you by the New York Department of Extreme Adventure Tourism)
p.s. – It can also be a super awesome place, with beautiful days, people, parks, sights, foods, sounds, experiences. The price of admission is high both financially & psycho-emotionally. You have been warned. If you’re extra sensitive, you probably will not enjoy it. This is not your fault.
hahaha omg i just checked it out and how in the world are the comments at jezebel saner than the ones here?? i mean, seriously, it’s jezebel.
my favorite, from progressivepirate:
“So, I’m a lesbian. Fairly femmey. And I think you’re an idiot. I had sex in public bathrooms too. When I was 19 and insecure as all hell and willing to sleep with any lady that would want me.
It’s not slut-shaming when people yell at you for having sex where they can see you. That’s like saying it’s poop-shaming if people ask you not to take a dump at the dinner table. Grow up. If you have a fetish for public sex, there are plenty of clubs where you can indulge that. (Though if you’re the type of person who thinks it’s sooooooo crazy that there are trans folk making out at whatever bar you go to, entering a club where public sex is actually encouraged might blow your tiny little mind.) I’ve been to two or three right here in New York; I’m sure you can find one.
Forcing people to be the unwitting participants in your sex life is bullshit. Grow up.”
so, this is pretty much implying the author is “insecure as hell” as well as an “idiot” because of her age. does the problem with this really need to be pointed out?
she’s saying she’s an insecure idiot bc she thinks being purposely offensive and inappropriate is subversive.
While I don’t personally mind hearing/witnessing someone’s public sex exploits (I could really care less), I do think it’s problematic when it happens in a restroom. Someone above said that public restrooms are not a basic right, which is true but very unfortunate.
As someone with an autoimmune disease that affects my bowel, I would have no social life at all if I couldn’t rely on public/semi-public restrooms. Anyone who has had the horrible and embarrassing experience of shitting themselves in public would think twice before getting it on in the restroom (for more than the average few minutes). Yes, this is TMI, but it’s my reality/hell.
I’m not upset by the article, I just wanted to chime in here so that people may reconsider hogging the restroom (for whatever reason!).
OMG, why is everyone freaking out? RELAX, IT’S JUST SEX!
OMG, why is everyone freaking out?
RELAX, IT’S JUST SEX! And it’s seriously not that big of a deal. This article totally spoke to me and to the experience of being young, partying, and so fucking into a girl you literally HAVE to have her right in that dirty Girlbar bathroom stall. And it’s fucking hot. Why? Because you are caught up in the moment! Yes, it’s selfish and immature and “frowned upon”, but that’s the hot sexy naughty fun of it! Don’t blame a girl for thinking with her vagina instead of her brain for a hot second.
Breaking rules is fucking hot. Being bad is fucking hot. The thrill of getting caught is fucking hot.
And on a more personal note(was the above not personal? whoops) I used to have sex in bathrooms for not only those reasons, but because I was a lonely confused queerio who lived with my parents and was terrified of bringing someone home and outing myself/terrified of going home with a strange girl and waking up sans kidneys in a bathtub full of ice.
And incidentally, one of those quickie bathroom fucks turned into my first girlfriend, who gave me the courage to finally come out to my family who (after some tears)embraced their unicorn of a daughter.Dirty dirty bathroom sex helped me come out of the closet and turn into the rad rainbow I am today. So there.
In summation, I offer this quote from Natasha, runner-up in season 8 of America’s Next Top Model:
When Brittany throws a hysterical fit after being disqualified from the go-see challenge:
“I just want to tell you that some people have war in their countries.”
This isn’t genocide, people. It’s just fucking in bathrooms. Simmer down now.
and our first godwin! good job autostraddle, good job.
No “Hitler”, no “Nazis”, no Godwin. Almost. I’m sure it’s coming. But not quite yet ;-)
So when that guy creepily sits across from you on the metro and jerks off, we shouldn’t freak out, right? It’s just masturbation after all. How about this, no one should force other people to participate in their sex unless that person consents to it.
I appreciate that the author has considered the dissenting opinions, but I’m really bothered by the mod and the commenters who seem to think everyone who opposes loud public sex is a slut-shaming prude and making a big deal out of nothing.
reliving a brutal rape isn’t nothing. and if you say it is, fuck you.
and don’t get in some slippery slope argument with me. sometimes people are triggered by things that aren’t offensive/uncomfortable to the majority. like if i’m bothered by a toilet flushing because i was raped in a public restroom? obviously i won’t get mad at someone for flushing the toilet because that’s an unexpected trigger.
but explicity sexual content is something we generally have restrictions on and warnings for in society, and explicit sexual content is something that is fair not to expect in a public setting. like – movie rating systems. I shouldn’t go to a G rated movie, or even out in public, if I wanted to 100% avoid seeing couples share a chaste or discreet kiss. Because that isn’t seen as widely offensive. I shouldn’t go to a PG-13 movie or to a bar if I don’t want to see a makeout and maybe even groping and grinding. Because that’s warned for in those movies, and to be expected in a bar, a strictly adult environment. And, naturally, I shouldn’t watch R rated movies if I don’t want to see nudity or sex, and I shouldn’t enter a strip club if I don’t want to see nudity or a sex club or an adult movie theater if i don’t want to see sex or masturbation. all fair. and, imo, it’s completely fair to not expect to hear explicit sex in a public setting that is not a sex club or adult theater or thin walled hotel.
if you want to have loud sex others can hear, go to on of those locations, where people expect it. and if you really have to have public bathroom sex … well, I wouldn’t really object if you were quick about it, and most importantly, quiet about it. i appreciate that the author has said she is reconsidering her advice to be “as loud as possible.” i certainly support her in her quest to be publicly queer, and to be sexual in public, so long as it is respectful (either quick and discreet, or in a space designed for sexual exhibitionism but not necessarily for queerness) and i appreciate her responses. but i just can’t get over the people who are defending their right to be as loud as possible. just, lol, if you think i’m silly for wanting the right to pee (a biological need), but that it’s not silly to expect the right to fuck loudly in places not designed for it (not a biological need.)
i support other’s rights to their own opinions, and even to their own public sex so long as they at least try to be considerate. but i find it rude for people to be saying that it harms nobody. explicit sex is the only thing i’m triggered by, and luckily most people and media are considerate enough to provide warnings for stuff like that, so i’m not triggered that often. but being triggered absolutely harms me.
i hope, at least, that the people who think others have the right to trigger me by doing something most people know is inconsiderate, considered unexpected and inappropriate, and also illegal, also think i have the right to publicly sob, scream, and incoherently mutter curse words and death threats, which is what tends to happen when I am triggered.
(just to be clear, in my opinion, they would be inconsiderate for being very loud about their public sex, and I would also be inconsiderate if I made strangers feel threatened because I was triggered.)
If I came across people – no matter the gender – having sex in a public bathroom, I would probably be violently sick and become traumatised for rather longer than it takes you to get off, ok, and I am entirely sex positive and whatnot.
“if you have sex with me, you should know that when I want to have sex, I want to have sex right now — when I want it, where I want it, and how I want it. ”
I’m quite amazed no one was bothered by this line. If a guy said it, it would be seen as creepy and selfish. Not a good attitude towards sex. Coupled with
“[i]I’m[/i] always in the process of trying to shift [i]her[/i] paradigm to accept my experiences and take risks within her own social and sexual life (ahem, today she screamed “I don’t like femmes!” across the Brooklyn College quad when I referenced a femme who tried to kick it to her).”
I feel really bad for her roommate. Sounds like author is trying to force the roommate into being more radicalized that she is ready for. Accept your roommate as who she is, don’t force her into being a radical femme just because you feel the need to be one yourself. It’s not your job to decide what is right for her, but her job to find it on her own. ($5 says once you stop trying to force her in that direction, she’ll become more radical on her own) Beyond that, you need to think about your affect on other people, too. Straight people get shamed for public sex not only because of sex shaming, but openly and overt public sex often inconveniences the rest of the people around. Just because your pants are on fire doesn’t trump the needs of the 15 others around you. It’s fine to have bathroom sex, just don’t force people who don’t want to into it-that includes bystanders or girlfriends who arn’t into it.
Yes, author, you are young and brava for being so brave to write about your experience but, you need to take a re-read of what you wrote and think about you attitude. This article didn’t bother people because its about bathroom sex, it bother people because it has a very flippiant attitude towards anyone else’s feelings as if your orgasms trump everyone else’s comfort zones. Really, truly, best of luck.
that bothered me too, actually, just i focused on the public sex first and never quite got back around to it. “it’s okay to want sex how i want it!” does not equal “i should get sex right now, how i want it, without concern for anyone else.” it just doesn’t.
and you know? i’ve been that roommate (not her particular roommate), multiple times with different people, and i find that behavior really obnoxious. people, you are neither my therapist nor my life coach, and i shouldn’t have to “open up” or “shift my paradigm” to your whim. you’re not the arbiter of life skills.
the problem isn’t the trigger or the triggering it’s what causes the trigger. WE NEED TO STOP RAPE. i’ve tried to think, “it’s the sex, if we all JUST STOP having sex we eliminate it” but that doesn’t work because it’s like starving yourself to make sure you don’t get E. COLI, it won’t work, will it? will complete abstinence solve the problem? whats the solution?
because if i was raped and tried to sleep but was awoken when i HEARD MY PARENTS HAVING SEX and had a tramautic response than whats the RIGHT action? WHAT DO I DO?
DO I LIVE FEARING? DO I START ATTEMPTING TO RECLAIM SEX? what to do?
because if ones i love so dearly who are so close, yet can be so callous and cold regarding my feelings THAN I HAVE TO EXPERIENCE this AGAIN when I’M SUPPOSED to be ENJOYING a night out to occupy my thoughts so that they’re not distressed or reliving the worst memory my existence has experienced, what do i do? where do i go? whats to blame? “i should have never been raped”, i think. but really, is that the answer? why is that the answer? people should have never raped me.we have so much further to go.
Bathroom sex is wicked hot. End of.
About her roommate: I think it is fine to want to encourage someone to take risks and open themselves to new experiences. That is an important part of the process of how we learn and grow – by pushing our boundaries. However, the dynamic between Isabelle and her roommate is presented as entirely one sided. She is judgmental of Isabelle and Isabelle spares no thought on why this judgment might be warranted or at least where it is coming from. Then, Isabelle posits herself as being able to ‘shift’ her roommate’s paradigm and radicalize her, without any indication that this is a reciprocal process. Whether or not this is true to life, Isabelle comes across as arrogant, self-centered and very judgmental in her own right. Who is she to say that her roommate’s sexual preferences and ways of engaging in the world are not radical enough? The first mistake is the presumption that one can ‘radicalize’ another person and to ignore the necessary mutuality in all of our interactions – meaningful engagement means that everyone’s boundaries are negotiated.
To me, this is not what being queer or radical is about at all. Queer, to me, means deconstructing hierarchies at every turn, and avoiding reverse double-standards through reflected praxis. It means living in a way that is not laden with identity categories and ascribed value judgements. Queer is meant to bring people together, not divide them into categories of ‘functionally lesbian’ (which sounds derogatory in this context – and it is derogatory unless her roommate actually adopts such an identity for herself), ‘dyke’, ‘femme’ , even ‘dude-bro’. This seems to me to be a broader tendency within queer communities and not just a problem with Isabelle’s worldview, although she exemplifies it perfectly.
I understand very well the political message behind this post -whether or not the author expresses it very well is besides the point – and it is an important one. Queer anger -the resounding ‘fuck you’ to all of heteronormative society – has a history and is entirely justified [see ‘Queers Read This, I Hate Straights’ for example]. And sometimes accommodating other people gets tiring – if you feel you have to constantly bend for others and curb your own expression and pursuit of pleasure, it is a very understandable response that at some point you may snap and impose yourself in a way that is ultimately unacceptable. But that’s the thing, the anger may be justified but it is simply not sustainable nor productive in the end.
Also, I think confronting the distinctions between public and private, and the various processes of normalization which have made it so that we consider ‘sex’ to be appropriate only in private do need to be challenged (see Dennis Altman on the polymorphous perverse and indiscriminate promiscuity). But ultimately the ‘fuck you’ approach only gets us so far. And what does it say when your actions cause trauma and anger even amongst your group of untouchably cool ‘queers’ (and I get the sense that I could never be ‘queer enough’ to ‘roll’ with this group) – and on top of that you are unwilling to even engage with their emotional response in a mature way.
There is so much that could be said about this piece. I think the author was indeed brave for putting it out there -it is an important part of learning to test boundaries and open oneself to criticism- and I take her at her word that she genuinely hadn’t considered the negative implications of what she has expressed and how she has expressed it. It is unquestionably important to be able to disregard what people think of you, but it is another matter when it comes to considering how your actions impact other people. What is so frustrating about this post is how unreflected it is, how it glorifies such a fierce individualism, which in any other context would be read as atrocious. As one of the last people pointed out, this approach to sex “if you have sex with me, you should know that when I want to have sex, I want to have sex right now — when I want it, where I want it, and how I want it ” is extremely problematic and if said by anyone would be read not as empowering but as narcissistic and violent, and demands that her partner be entirely submissive to her whims. (While still problematic, this same statement would take on a different, and more political, meaning if directed to the world at large rather than at her potential partners).
These issues are really complicated and it is easy, so easy, to think that you are being oh-so radical, and not realize how you are hurting people in the process – by forcing your views on them, by underestimating their own experiences and thought processes. If someone responds to this by calling you an asshole, they would be justified.
I always come back to Audre Lorde in moments like these: ‘the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house’.
I assume that every single person up in arms about bathroom sex being “rude” treats that shit like a palace and from here on out, I will have to worry about pee on the toilet seat, piss on the floor, used tampons hanging out, random ass puddles, refusal to flush, unwashed hands, and general nastiness a lot less. Because that’s rude. On my list of people to be upset with, people that leave pee on toilet seats: top ten. People that have consensual sex in bathrooms: not present.
not peeing on the floor is common human decency. so is not having noisy public sex.
I am so fucking baffled that on a feminist website, we are actually debating whether it’s appropriate to thrust somebody in the middle of your sex scene without their consent. Even Dan Savage, who
I’ve never found particularly sensitive to consent issues or survivors, isn’t down with that shit.
And now, a day after the author has backed down and admitted that she didn’t realize she could be really hurting people with her behavior (even though she brags about having “traumatized” a friend, so she seems to have understood perfectly fine that she was forcing people into upsetting situations) we still have people stepping up to defend her and insist that everyone who has a problem with this behavior is an uptight prude obsessed with the sanctity of bathrooms, even though we’ve explained again and again it’s not about sanctity, it’s about forcing unwitting people to participate in your sex life.
“If you’re heteronormative, you might not notice through the dark-ass lighting that there are trans-folks making out in the booths.”
Maybe you didn’t notice, or maybe you’re just not the sort of person who likes to use trans people’s mere presence to illustrate how edgy and radikewl a bar is.
consent is sexy, therefore if you want to be sexy – and you do want to be sexy, don’t you? – you must consent
i’m so fucking tired of this fake-ass misogynistic bullying bullshit that masquerades itself as sex positivity. i’ve been reading autostraddle for two years, and this might actually be what it takes to get me to kick it to the curb.
your fucking annoying ass comments have gotten old as shit. dont let the door hit you on the way out.
oh, that’s cute.
I love a good instance of public sex. Against a tree in a sunset-lit park, or a dark bar restroom.
I personally find it a lot more thrilling and less dirty than many of the things that happen in a restroom.
Most people I know who fuck in restrooms (especially at the radical queer bar haunts) clean up after themselves after both sex acts and their bodily business. Because they want everyone to have a good, safe, clean time.
Also, and I’m not sure this has been mentioned: A “public” restroom isn’t entirely “public”. I don’t mean it in the sense that you have to pay to use it (though sometimes you do), but it is a bathroom that someone is letting you use on their property, and it has to be maintained and up kept and repaired and so on. So, if the lock on the door breaks mid-coitus, do you pay the bar for it? Or if you mess up the toilet paper dispenser thingie?
I guess I just keep thinking that if this were my apartment, and you broke into it and screwed in the bathroom, I would have an issue. I did not give you permission to use it that way. Similarly, the bar owner has the toilet there for people to use as a toilet, not as a sex stall.
Who decided that not having sex in public was a community rule? While I am not advocating either side of the argument here, I am looking at the debate from a purely sociological perspective. We are all products of the society from which we come. Therefore, our beliefs, fears, concerns, and feelings are also products of society. Society by definition is a “group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations,” (Wikipedia). The term dominant cultural expectations raises an interesting conversation because we live in an ever-changing society. If the majority of a group of people in a certain area believe that certain behaviors are acceptable then that becomes the dominant cultural expectation (as part of a subculture). This creates an area where the mainstream culture and the subculture switch places, making those against public sex (in general and specifically in public restrooms) the minority. To each his own. If you are against this specific behavior then you should avoid the places where you find it happens most frequently. If you are into these behaviors (an by all means, get turned on by whatever you want), you should frequent these locations more. It’s all about following the culture that you believe to be right while respecting that other people accept certain more intimate cultures.
Practical suggestion: have radical public sex in spaces designed for radical public sex?
DC and NY both have kink and sex-positive communities with play spaces for exactly that- subverting heterosexual, cisgendered, monogamous, vanilla, etc. etc. paradigms and getting off at the same time. Go to DC Dungeon and be a radical queer there. They’ll love it. I’ll love it. That way you’re mindful of consent (everyone in there knows you’ll be fucking)and you can still be radical and sex positive. Everyone wins!
i still really like this post.
I have my own issues with this article, which I’ll get to in a moment. But I have read pretty much all of the comments here in this article, and obviously many others over time. The frustration I have with a lot of the comments on here is that while the audience/commenters are without a doubt one of the most thought-provoking and interesting group I’ve found on the net, over and over the responses to an article very quickly devolve into ripping into someone about privilege. Perhaps we can find other topics to discuss instead?
Oh yes, I know I’m going to get a lot of shit for that, but hear me out. I don’t know the general age of people here, and maybe it’s the perspective of someone in her mid-thirties, but I’ve had a lot of privileges and opportunities in life. I’ve also been kicked hard by life. Life is a series of checks and balances and for all the privileges we are given, we are each given obstacles and difficulties to overcome just as much. While I agree it’s important to understand how others are viewed in this life, or at least to do your best to understand the way they are, to consistently yell at people for their privilege is, well, a bit much.
I live in NYC. I appreciate that you all are upset with the author’s less than mannerly behaviour, but frankly the day that New Yorkers stop to ask if you’re okay with what they’re doing or going to do will be the day pigs fly (and given how many weirdos live in NYC, I’m not ruling out seeing pigs flying one day). It’s idealistic but not realistic to assume differently. Hell, about a year ago I saw a couple fucking on the balcony of a concert hall, in plain sight of everyone. Welcome to NYC!
Have I had sex in a bathroom? Yup. Hell, I had sex standing at a bar (to be fair, the bar/club had video cameras in the bathrooms that patrons outside could watch, so sex anywhere there was hardly radical, just fun). Frankly, I think it’s kind of sexy hearing couples enjoy themselves, BUT I realize that’s not everyone’s perspective and yes, there’s a time and place for it.
The issue here seems to me to be an issue of etiquette more so than anything. So, dear author, a few things:
1. If there’s only one or two bathrooms and the bar is even half full, then no, you should not be fucking in the bathroom.
2. If it doesn’t have individual stalls, then fucking while someone’s trying to take a piss is just rude.
3. A large part of public sex is the fun of NOT getting caught, of people NOT knowing what you’re doing, so keep it quiet.
4. The minute people start knocking, finish it up. I don’t care if you or your girl haven’t gotten off – get out.
5. Choose your location wisely. Just as you probably wouldn’t fuck in the middle of your cubicle in Goldman Sachs, there are certain places you shouldn’t fuck. Have fun, be radical, but do be considerate.
6. Keep your body parts hidden. If you must fingerbang her in public, keep her skirt down.
7. If there are a bunch of other couples groping and fucking on the dancefloor/bar floor, then by all means, get to it yourself. It’s clearly okay and allowed then.
8. Leave your poor roommie alone. Let her be herself. Respect her boundaries and who she is, k?
9. As you get older, you’ll realize the most radical thing you can do as a lesbian is simply exist, without apologies. Holding your girlfriend’s hand in public is WAY more radical, sexy and sensual than fucking her in the middle of Times Square. (Besides, there’s already a guy in his underwear in Times Square, so it’s really not all that radical).
10. I get it, you’re testing the limits of your identity. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I did the exact same thing when I was your age. That’s awesome, and oh so necessary. However, I’m really glad you’ve been open-minded to hearing others’ points of views here. I’m sorry that you’ve been so beaten up. I don’t think what you’re doing is SO awful. (Sorry, I have MUCH more issues with people doing lines in bathrooms than fucking).
You do touch on an interesting and age-old topic though – the sexuality of the invisible femme. The ole joke about lesbians is that we “braid each other’s hair.” You broached that idea when you mentioned how much people assume that when you and your equally femme girlfriend go to the bathroom together, they assume you’re talking about some guy. See why I say merely holding your girlfriend’s hand in public (or even just being obviously NOT two friends) is truly radical?
I think this was a great article, and I applaud you for putting yourself out there in this way. I hope, rather than quitting writing, you’ll come back to us in a month or two with a new perspective, some new experiences and your point of view. You’re a good writer in general and your willingness to be vulnerable and open is, as a reader, truly appreciated.
…everyone, did you read this? this is how an adult shares their viewpt. Not by name calling, not by acting self righteous, and not by threatening to discontinue reading this website b/c they dont like that everyone else doesnt agree with them (fyi – your threats sound childish – just move on if you feel that strongly). TAKE NOTE people. you can disagree about something and not act like a brat.
dear wwg – thanks for a super respectful comment.
Thank you very much Hey. I appreciate it. Same to you Riese for your response.
Ps. I was in a bar a couple of weeks ago where someone kept pissing on the toilet paper rolls – over and over. Oh NYC, you never fail to keep me both baffled and entertained!
I found this whole discussion fascinating. Everybody has pretty legitimate points, and as a creative-type I can certainly appreciate the “NYC is about chaos and that’s life and it’s so real” concept. Also, (TW – talking about triggering) I feel in my heart that to an extent, it is not the responsibility of the world to keep me from being triggered. For my recovery, I must learn to deal with things I cannot control, because there are many, rape and sexual violence being one obvious example, and accept that I cannot control it. I have never personally been raped
Ahh fuck nevermind. I accidentally pressed enter mid-sentence and then when I was typing the rest realized that it is wildly off-topic and ridiculous.
Point is: this whole thing was a trip to read, and I don’t mean that in a dismissive way, but like, wow, there were a lot of intelligent things said and I was impressed and I thought about things in a new way, and that was great.
Don’t straddle stoned, kids. You’ll leave comments like this.
This article represents everything I hate about my generation. My generation is so ready to be disrespectful, but when somebody has something to say back to them they hold their ears, stamp their feet, and scream “La la la la la. I can’t hear you!”. We try so, so hard to be special, and can’t just be a human being with imperfections. We have to fit some mold. Fuck that shit. I know how to be a radical human being, and I don’t need a sexually inexperienced girl to tell me how. I am a radical human being when I help my fellow human. I am a radical human being when I challenge myself with new ideas that I do or don’t agree with. I am a radical human being by doing what is right for me, not others, and that is where I and the author differ. The author exhibits these sexual quirks primarily to get a rise out of people, and that just cheapens the experience if you ask me.
This article represents everything I hate about my generation. My generation is so ready to be disrespectful, but when somebody has something to say back to them they hold their ears, stamp their feet, and scream “La la la la la. I can’t hear you!”. We try so, so hard to be special. I know how to be a radical human being, and I don’t need a sexually inexperienced girl to tell me how. I am a radical human being when I help my fellow human. I am a radical human being when I challenge myself with new ideas that I do or don’t agree with. I am a radical human being by doing what is right for me, not others. Being bisexual is cool, but trying to finger bang a girl in a bathroom stall, and make a political statement? Not so cool. Not everything is supposed to be a competition. The simple things in life do not need to be complicated by humans concepts and theories.
I would just like to tell the author that I really enjoyed reading this article.