The writing on the (bathroom) wall

By Amanda Hunt and Laura Ingalls

Conditions were perfect for our quest. It was a bright, sunny morning as we set out to answer a question that has baffled man for centuries. On the order of "Why are we here," "Does life on other planets exist, "Is there a god," and "What would you do for a Klondike bar?" the question resounds throughout the halls of infamy. The question: why do women go to the bathroom together?

It's a question that deserved a tour through campus watering holes. The simple answer is that we go in to gossip. However, it has more significance as a social experience, hence the conversational clusters of couches and chairs you often find encircling mirrors in bathrooms. You're invited to put your feet up and stay awhile.

The bathroom is the private club for women. All of those years when women were not allowed to do the same things or go the same places forced them to find their own private meeting place.

Today hordes of women crowd into bathrooms at half-times, intermissions and whenever they need an excuse to hide from a horrific date. The Student Union basement bathroom is a prime example.

You're lucky to get a ringside seat in this room during lunch hour. Women primp and preen in the mirror while the line winds out the door. High traffic in this bathroom means the cleaning duties are immense, often resulting in the bathroom being closed for cleaning when you most need it. You get used to waiting.

In general, graffiti was sparse in women's stalls throughout campus. This may suggest with bathroom space being in such high demand women don't have time to scrawl their opinions on the stall. Or maybe the paint crews beat us to it.

In one of the most infamous bathrooms for social commentary, the second floor Franklin Building facility, paint crews recently obliterated a long-standing debate on whether Rush Limbaugh is a moron or not. The only message left visible through the paint was "This is not reality."

We agree. The paint is just a cover-up. Women are prolific bathroom wall writers, if you know where to look.

Take for instance, the Modern Language Building. Faded song lyrics prompted someone to retort, "Words mean shit." A surprising comment to find in such a literate sector of campus.

While it seems women are more discrete about their sexuality in public, their "club" tells a different story. A sex poll in a Modern Languages stall asked if men are "loving in bed" or "do they fuck you like a piece of meat?" Some debutante replied, "Ask your father stupid shit."

The notion that women are ro-

mantic idealists is also blown away. The message on the outside door of a first floor Psychology bathroom should have been a clue. The "W" was scratched out leaving only the word "omen" to bid us welcome. A woman in the Psychology building scrawls she plans to marry for money. Others supported the romantic ideal of marrying for love. Another woman adds, "Does love feed you ... pay your rent, or buy your house?"

There was the occasional "Joanie loves Chachi" stuff like in junior high. But these sentiments were contained in the Education Building. Imagine, future teachers writing on the walls. How much detention time is that worth?

Women's bathroom wall topics tend to be on the serious side, addressing political and social issues that don't get mainstream attention. Often there are discussions about homosexuality, racism and accusations of rape.

In general, campus bathrooms were kept clean. Some bathrooms had framed art on the walls, notably the Center for Creative Photography and the second floor Student Union one. The administration restroom has a wall-size mural.

The furniture generally seemed to be of the yard sale variety, beat up chairs, tables and couches upholstered in 1970s shag.

Occasionally we found a lone seat up that made us momentarily shudder down to our second X-chromosomes. The other's calling card. This was women's territory, the one place left unmarked by men. We attributed the aberration to the overworked cleaning crew who diligently does its duty despite the heavy use of campus bathrooms. It couldn't possibly be the other option, that men had somehow discovered our social haven and started claiming it for their own. Soon they'd install vanity mirrors, cushy chairs and broken feminine hygiene machines in their own bathrooms.

Again we would have to carve out a private sphere of influence and make it beautiful and fresh scented. Only this time it would be personal we'd take over ESPN.

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