I lost my mind, yesterday. I admit it. I could feel it happening, too, and I was nearly powerless to stop it. My voice grew louder. My face twisted into ugly rage.
I was having a discussion in my daily Starbucks coffee group about the “bathroom issue.” We’d had the discussion before and despite having widely varied political ideologies, we’d all agreed on solutions to a very complex, very personal problem. So, why was yesterday different?
Because we got stuck on a word.
It happens a lot in discussions, which become debates, which can escalate to arguments. Yesterday, it was the difference between opinion and experience. I was trying to communicate experiences I had myself had, and events I’d witnessed, all within the confines of the women’s bathroom.
I was trying to communicate this to men, because I was expressing the idea that they cannot empathize with women’s bathroom culture any more than they can with childbirth. Identifying with something other than what you are requires that you share the same experiences. I can say, all day long, that I identify as a lumberjack. That doesn’t make me a lumberjack. I can talk to a lumberjack. I can even swing an axe. That would certainly provide hilarious entertainment, considering I’m much more likely to take off an appendage than I am to accurately split a log. But it does not make me a lumberjack.
You can talk to a million women, and no two of them will have had the same experiences, but many will have had the same challenges women face that lead us to seek the sanctuary of a women’s restroom. The desire to exclude men has to do more with privacy (and occasionally safety) than it does anything else. It is the feeling that those needs are being cast aside in an effort to accommodate the newest trend that is aggravating me. Most of the women I’ve polled don’t really give a damn about whether transgendered men pee in our bathrooms. We all agree it should never have been an issue. It was a matter of privacy for them before, and it should remain a matter of privacy for them, now.
But what released the kraken yesterday, and what has created the current political climate, is feeling like those experiences that don’t fit the current narrative are actually scorned by those who claim to be helping the public. Everyone should be heard. You don’t have to agree, but in order to move forward in a collective way, all experiences have to be considered.
I let myself become angry. I lost control of my ability to communicate because I felt like I was not being heard. I got up and walked away, seething, because the fuse had come dangerously close to the explosive and I was going to say something for which later I’d have to apologize. I am infinitely glad I did. Within an hour, the universe had righted itself and my friend and I had gotten over it. This morning, we laughed about the tiny kraken. People who’d been sitting inside had seen my face and thought they might never see me again. Friends called to see if I was alright. I thought to myself, I must have looked incredibly ferocious if so many people who couldn’t hear us arguing thought it was that bad. In the end, we understood each other, and that is really all that finally mattered.