Ask PoopReport: Why Aren't Stalls Private?
I've come across some very interesting essays in the course of researching my book. One of the most thought-provoking is "The Plumbing of Modern Life" by Margaret Morgan. Ms. Morgan* is an artist of whom we at PoopReport should all be aware. Here is how she describes herself:
Her work takes the form of installations made of plumbing systems; drawings in urine and builder’s chalk; and photography. Her art uses plumbing as a motif to address histories of twentieth century art and life. Morgan’s thesis is this: In America’s twentieth century hygiene was god and the toilet its ambiguous icon. Shiny bright, promising unparalleled cleanliness, the porcelain fixture was fetishized for its gleaming surface. It was also vilified for its inevitable failure to live up to that image.
Worshipped and reviled, the bathroom has been a cipher for the many discomforts of modernity. As a figure equally prevalent in popular movies and the annals of art history, in television and in quotidian exchanges over the household chores, the toilet in the twentieth century has been a catch-all for symbolic – as much as bodily – effluvia.
Ms. Morgan sent me some printed matter a few years ago, and it was all quite interesting. And the aformentioned essay has brought up a lot of interesting ideas that I'll address in the book. One thing I won't be addressing in the book -- which is why I bring it up here -- is a question she asks in footnote #31. Talking about the gaps in bathroom stall partitions, she asks:
"One might wonder: why are those
gaps there at all? Surely the stalls could be constructed without those narrow spaces through which looks into and out of the stall can be exchanged. It is almost as if to heighten the tension between public and private and to raise the possibility of an ostensibly prohibited exchange."
Why indeed? That is the question today, PoopReporters: why do you think bathroom stalls are *not* designed to maximize privacy?
* Warning: Ms. Morgan's site is really screwy in Firefox. It seems to work a lot better in -- ugh -- Internet Explorer.