Drifting and striding with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label all-gender toilets. Show all posts
Showing posts with label all-gender toilets. Show all posts

Thursday, September 15, 2016


 If you’re like me (and I realize you may not be) then you’re probably finding it hard to get very worked up about this all-gender toilet business.

Lord knows a man, or woman, or anyone else, often feels an urgent need to use a toilet when out walking, and when the situation gets urgent enough I really don’t give a hoot what the sign on the door says. 

But there is some wry amusement to be had in watching graphic designers try come up with a symbol that successfully conveys the all-inclusivity of a toilet.

    You and I might think this is an occasion when language would be more useful than a symbol, that the word “toilet” on a door would be enough, but what do we know?

     And what about walkers?  My knowledge of international signs for walkers is patchy but most places I’ve been, pedestrianism is indicated by a distinctly male figure. 

Is this sexism and cisgenderism?  Yes, probably. And in Japan the male figure even has a hat:

Often, even when there are two people on a sign they’re both male:

Although just occasionally you see two children, one of whom appears to be female:

And I did manage to find this one of what appears to be a man and a woman, though that may be jumping to a hasty conclusion - gender identity isn't just about clothing choices:

 In any case, a sign featuring a solo female walker seems unknown anywhere I’ve ever been.  So I’ve had a trawl around the interwebs and found some interesting variations – all the below are taken from the Spiegel website.  Some are very basic; like this one from Guadaloupe:

Or this one from Mongolia:

This one from Majorca has a more detail, though they're still going with the hat:

And this one from Denmark apparently shows Hans Christian Andersen:

This is from Austria, two blokes and a bike:

But finally, (finally!) this one:

with a caption that reads “In the Benelux countries and Austria, pedestrians can find traffic lights that resemble real human forms more than anywhere else. These women are taking a stroll in the Netherlands...”  Yes, women.   

The Dutch – we always knew they were enlightened.