Don’t ‘lady’ my bin

Gender debate in the women’s toilets

Don’t ‘lady’ my bin

The gender debate at the RUG is currently playing out in a surprising location: the women’s toilets at the Harmonie building. Specifically, on the bins. Is the bathroom graffiti a protest against gendered language? Or is the graffitier just ‘taking the piss’?
By Matej Pop-Duchev
14 October om 12:28 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:17 uur.
October 14 at 12:28 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:17 PM.

If bathroom graffiti is a bellwether for the issues that matter most to RUG students, the writing on the wall is pretty clear: don’t ‘lady’ my bin.

A gendered bin might seem like a minuscule issue, but since many people are passionate about the topic of gender, we posted a picture of the ladybin graffiti to Instagram and asked you for your own hot takes, academic research abstracts, and politically incorrect opinions.

One follower captured the issue nicely: Why would anyone gender an inanimate object? Well, RUG scholars remain divided. Gendering is instructive, some feel. Calling it a ladybin makes it clear that it’s to be used for sanitary products only. Or as one commenter puts it: ‘It’s a ladybin because people with penises don’t use it.’

And it’s true, menstruation is exclusive to the female reproductive tract. But as another Insta-follower was quick to point out: women are not the only people who have periods or use sanitary products. The lady prefix gets in the way of acknowledging trans people.

Some think that, if not exclusionary, it’s at least unnecessary to gender a bin. ‘It’s just a bin for sanitary products’, as one follower puts it. Another suggests keeping things simple and just calling it a bin.

Readers also proposed an alternative name: hygiene bin. Yay? Finding the right name for a bin is hard, as it turns out. Get it wrong and you’ll only confuse people. For example, one follower associated the word ladybin with a special waste category.

And then there were those who are just fed up with all the drama. ‘I wonder which “real” problems the critic tackles while they’re peeing’, sneers one commenter, while another wants the ‘nagging’ to stop. It’s an academic city after all, and we should be doing something more important with our time when we are sitting on the toilet!

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