Bathrooms Don’t Rape People

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people, and there are already laws against that. I’ve heard this argument about gun control for at least 20 years, and it never changes anyone’s mind. I’ve lived in rural America, grown up around guns, and even won my extended family reunion’s target competition. I’ve also lived where guns flood the street and the sanctity of life is a foreign virtue. You can hear the gunshots from my bedroom window almost every night. But this isn’t a post about gun control. That’s a whole other topic for a whole other day, on which I’m sure we’ll spill plenty of ink.

What I don’t understand is how people use this argument for guns but not for other criminal activity.

I know this may be a controversial position to take, but here goes: Bathrooms don’t rape people. People rape people, and there are already laws against that. With the exception of a fascinating Japanese bidet at an airport in Tokyo, I have never once felt violated by anything that a toilet has done to me. The stall doors, sinks, and urinals are innocent too.

Yet there are folks who think that bathrooms at Target are the biggest problem America is facing.

Guess how many instances have been reported in American history of non-cis folks sexually assaulting someone in the opposite gender bathroom? None. That’s right, it has never, ever been reported. Not a single time.

Call me crazy, but I think the reason most non-cis people go into bathrooms is because they have to pee.

There are plenty of people who have been assaulted or raped by family members, but we aren’t outlawing the nuclear family. There have been plenty of people assaulted or raped by acquaintances while on dates, many more at frat parties. You know who rapes people? Rapists. And they don’t really care where it is. And guess what? There are already laws that are in place to prosecute those who are responsible for these dehumanizing and abhorrent acts.

Outside of the fact that some ridiculous laws like this would be virtually impossible to police (are James Dobson, folks from the American Family Association, and State Troopers from North Carolina checking everyone’s genitalia before they go inside?), this does more to destroy the witness of the people of God than any sort of safety it might provide. In fact, we really need to ask whose safety we are really concerned about. Dehumanization always precedes and seeks to justify violence and exclusion. When non-cis folks are made a target (no pun intended) for boycotts and protests, they are robbed of the simple dignity of going pee in the bathroom they feel most comfortable in.

Is this a movement you are proud to be a part of? If it is already illegal to sexually assault, rape, or peep at people, why don’t you just focus on enforcing the laws already on the books instead of further alienating a population already on the margins? Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of things to be outraged about. Sexual assaults and rapes happen every day – on college campuses, churches, homes, and elsewhere – and we participate in this culture when we sexualize, objectify, and dehumanize each other (particularly women) in a million ways. If you really want to protect your daughters, maybe start there.

11 thoughts on “Bathrooms Don’t Rape People

  1. Jenn says:

    Everyone I know who is against Target’s policy (and similar ones) is not against it because of trans people. We’re against it for the EASY ACCESS it provides rapists and child molesters to our mothers, sisters, and daughters. It’s already happened. If a child molester sees an easy target (a girl going into the bathroom alone), what’s stopping him from walking right into the women’s room after her and causing harm? All he has to do is say “I identify as a woman!” and nobody can stop him. Right? I’ve yet to hear one person I know who is against this policy say “I hate trans people! They’re sick and I don’t want them near me or my children!” That’s not why we’re against it. This policy is giving rapists and molesters a giant open door. And I’m not okay with that.


    1. Thanks for your comment Jen, it is reassuring to hear that there isn’t always a discriminatory bias in these thoughts, but there definitely is a lot of that thought out there. Many people have complained that they feel weird or feel uncomfortable. That person’s comfort is not always a priority over the discrimination of another. I guess my thought is this: The action of going to the bathroom is different than rape/molestation. I agree that some concerns are valid, but at what cost? Most sexual crimes do not happen in public bathrooms. In fact, at a place like Target (for example) is a much more vulnerable place to be found out and caught than a private home, a dark alley, or a van with no windows…

      Most importantly, how do you suggest that this new law gets enforced? Are we checking everyone’s parts at the door? Are women no longer going to be able to jump into the empty men’s room when the line for the ladies’ room is too long?


      1. Kenn says:

        Valid point that rapes and molestation rarely happen in public bathrooms. But voyeurism and indecent exposure and filming happen easily in public restrooms and dressing rooms.
        As far as how to enforce the laws…what did we do before this? If you look like a man, meaning you are dressed like a man and my 5 yr looks at you and says “mom why is that man going in the girls’ bathroom?” I’m guessing you shouldn’t be using the women’s restroom. If you’re a trans, aren’t you dressing that way? Wouldn’t if be hard for me to tell you’re a male if you’re a trans and living/dressing as a woman? I’m not trying to sound rude or presumptuous…

        Most stores also have “family” bathrooms, so why isn’t that an option instead of making women and men use the same bathroom? If a non-cis is uncomfortable using the bathroom with other people, why not use that if it’s available? My boys don’t like going into the women’s bathroom with me, so if there’s a family bathroom, that’s what we use. I’m not trying to trivialize. I’m just saying there are other options that don’t give an open door to perverts (not referring to trans people).

        As for the jumping into the men’s room when the line is too long…I’ve only done that when it’s a single toilet and no one else is in there. 😉


      2. I think a big part of the concern for non-cis folks is the idea that if the identify as a man, dress and look like a man, and then are forced to go into a women’s restroom by the genitalia checkers that would be more humiliating than just going to the men’s restroom, into a stall, and going pee. Same with the flipside – a female identifying non-cis, who looks like a woman and dresses like a woman and is forced into the men’s room is placed into a room that puts her in danger.

        If peeping, filming, and indecent exposure are already illegal as well, which was the original point of the post, why punish and/or marginalize law-abiding citizens? My thought is that if someone is planning on using the self-identification thing as an excuse to molest someone or indecently expose themselves, they are already not interested in abiding by the law. What is the need for an additional law?


      3. Jenn says:

        There are several other articles that address actual incidences of men claiming to be transgender and using this law to gain access to women’s restrooms, dressing rooms, and locker rooms for unsavory purposes. I don’t care for a law that puts my children in danger. until you have your own children, you can’t possibly understand. Truly, Ben. I’m not being cliche or flippant. I fight the fears that run through my head every day when it comes to my children & their safety. The statistics for childhood sexual abuse are staggering. 1 in 4. That means one of my children could easily become a victim. Why would I be okay with a law that gives abusers easy access?? Don’t tell me abuse doesn’t happen in a public bathroom.
        If we’re going to follow your logic of “lawbreakers don’t follow laws anyway”, then we should throw all laws out the window, right? I mean, if there are going to be people who break the laws regardless, why even have them?
        You know me, Ben. I’m not a hateful person. But I can’t stand aside and let my children be put in danger by a reckless law.
        (That other reply was me, too. Not “Kenn”. Typo! Ha)


      4. Yes, men claiming to be transgender, not actual non-cis folks. And your article, while I’m sympathetic, it is not from a victim of this specific instance that we’re talking about. This is like saying, “I had my hand eaten by a bear, so now I have a problem with people petting their dogs.” I do understand the fear for your children’s safety, and I reject the notion that I have to wait to have “my own kids” to understand that feeling. I have kids that I worry about everyday, with frankly much more to worry about than anyone in Kansas.

        I’m not accusing you of hatred or anything, so I’m sorry if I came across like that. But just because that is your intent doesn’t mean that is how it is always perceived, especially by the people who are collateral damage from your comments. The reality is that not a single person has been able to tell me how such a law would be enforced. And I guarantee you that as soon as someone tries to enforce this law, that is when sexual assault reports will go through the roof when people keep getting crotch-checked. To me, that is the biggest question. Even with this law, without genitalia police, THERE IS ALREADY EASY ACCESS! And NOBODY is going to be okay with genitalia police, especially if you are already worried about your young daughters privacy.

        And ultimately, you have concisely articulated the original point of this whole argument. “If lawbreakers are going to break laws, why have any laws at all” is the EXACT line that conservatives use in defending the right to guns. They dismiss new regulation as “criminals are not going to follow laws, so why add new ones” yet my city is neck deep in dead bodies already, and gunshots ring out every day. My point with this is the exact same logic: if rape is already illegal, then rapists are already not following the law, so what is the point of new and completely unenforceable legislation that further marginalizes an already discriminated against group? The only difference that I can see is that for one, the collateral damage is hunters losing their assault rifles, rather than another group that typically makes conservatives a little bit squeamish not being able to pee in peace. If this is the only difference, it is hard to see this as anything more than preferring the rights of the “hunter” stereotype (typically conservative white men) over and against the non-cis persons that are non-conforming to the status quo. That is discrimination, and that is what I’m not okay with.

        PS, I figured it was you, just using a pseudonym to boost my comment stats. That’s what friends are for, right? 🙂


  2. Nathan Evans says:

    Peeping happens from adult males towards youth males already soooo no adult males can use the same restroom as a minor male. Right? Right? We are going to need like 14 different bathrooms per store soon.


      1. Nathan Evans says:

        Oh no not at all. I was giving one example that currently happens and yet we do not require adult males and youth males to use separate bathrooms.


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