The Women’s Room and Theater about Women
With The Right to Choose an Abortion Standing in Line, along with us.
Call me a drama queen or call me a woman. At least call me focused: I have one thing I want changed. It is the lines at the theaters in which women stand while men do not.
The larger stuff follows. The right to choose an abortion may be directly kin to the way we stand in line. Little things mean a lot. Why do women put up with this obvious injustice of insufficient toilets for us and too many for men, in the great majority of theaters? This minor problem leads to the major problems we face.
Why do women go to theaters to have our time abused at intermission? And even more pertinent, why do some women lift their butts above the seat and pee all over it? Who do they think they are? Do they really imagine no one is following them, after standing in the line? Do they really think that their rear end is more important than all the other rear ends in the line? Do they fantasize that the urine will dry up before the next person sits down? Just because they don’t want or need an abortion, does that mean that others do not also? We don’t even know how to care for ourselves at intermission at theaters – much less realize that there are other women right behind us with the same problem.
You will not immediately see the connection with these presumably minor inconveniences and larger, more inconvenient truths. Give me a few of your minutes. I can explain. I know you don’t have much time – but that only underscores my point. Why aren’t more women multi tasking in the theater bathroom lines? Why do we just stand there and b……..? And why do some of us protect themselves from presumed infections by making the rest of us sit in their urine? Have we forgotten each other and begun to imagine that we are the only person in the universe?
Women have a lot in common – and not just the right to manage our sexual and reproductive lives. A lot of people waste our time. This political season we have dueling pictures of women – the last thing any one of us needs, so surfeit with expectations are we already. I couldn’t possibly rival Saturday Night Live’s comic caption of both of the leading gals. Nor could I be as articulate as Eve Ensler or Gloria Steinem or any of their counterparts on the right. We have a divided country, divided in its heart about women and who we are. I am hysterical as an anti-choice woman is actually proposed for vice president, which is one heartbeat way too close to the Supreme Court – and other women, some of them maybe even standing in the same line as me, elated at the appointment. How can women be that different, standing in the same line of way too many expectations and obligations and way too little freedom?
None of us needs even one more person adding a few more obligations to our to do and to be list! Both liberal and conservative women are sponges when it comes to other people’s expectations. Maybe these rivaling expectations will finally form the word “no” in a few of our mouths – and that would be more women’s liberation than we have yet seen. No, I will not stand in line at theaters. No, I will not act like my reproductive health and freedom don’t matter. I will act like I do matter.
But even that is not my point today. I want us to learn to stick up for the trans partisan matters that could unite us. Sponging off the toilet seat if you think you are too good to sit on it would be a good start. Joining together to tell theaters that men need a third as many toilets as women do and victoriously enjoying the intermission rather than the line. would be a good middle. These would be uniting issues for women that only appear to be divided. What genuinely units us is that we are ignored, our needs are ignored, we still make 79 cents on the man’s dollar – and there are way too many projections popped onto our heads.
One columnist had it all figured out long ago. I am to work all day, nurture children and be multi-orgasmic till midnight. Now I get to also run for high office while nursing a child. None of these expectations bother me. I have actually done most of them; not high office, but certainly I have broken the stained glass ceiling, one time after another. I have nursed children before, during and after important meetings. Most women can and do manage multiple expectations with more grace than fatigue – although fatigue also happens and often goes unremarked because nurturers aren’t supposed to get tired.
Thank you, world, for always being so quick to tell me exactly what I am to do, who I am to be, and how I am to do it.
Things could be different. Pay us the same as you pay men and we’ll do twice the job. With Ginger Rogers, we will do everything Fred Astaire did, on high heels, and backwards. This larger issue will come when women unite around not putting up with stupid stuff any more, like long lines at the theater, that not only waste our time but also waste our talent. Or health care “rules” that allow medical people to not give us contraception or abortions. If men needed abortions, they would be a sacrament. Women apparently can’t be trusted with personal freedom. Our religious freedom joins our sexual and reproductive freedom in being unimportant. We are to think the way Roman Catholicism and punishmentalist Christianity think about us. They know better, right? The fact that many of us see God in our own way, in a liberating and kind way towards women, doesn’t need to be remarked upon. We’ll just stand in line and wait to be heard — or to use the toilet.
WHY DO WE PUT UP WITH IT? That is the question. Maybe if we just realized we are all in the same line, we’d stop acting like the individual with a rear end too precious to touch that of others.
The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. She is the author of GRASS ROOTS GARDENING: RITUALS TO SUSTAIN ACTIVISTS.