Stepping through the looking glass

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write: "The President of the United States has announced that, in order to continue receiving federal funds, all public schools must allow boys into the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms."

And it's not even from The Onion.

Seriously, I feel like I have stepped through some kind of weird looking glass into a parallel universe. Perhaps one run entirely by teenaged boys, who have been trying to gain access to naked teenaged girls ever since the fig leaf first obscured their view.

Of course, the order is presumably limited to the "transgendered." But it is impossible to set any criterion for being transgendered apart from simply saying so. Which means, effectively, that we have no way whatsoever to keep any boy out of the girls' shower. Any boy who says he "identifies" as female suddenly has the full force of the U.S. government upholding his right to occupy the girls' shower.

The same is true of the restrooms at your local Target store, and any number of other facilities where the transgendered have been formally invited to pick and choose their restrooms.

This, my friends, is a prime example of the real "war on women."

To clarify: I don't think there are 100 people in the world who are particularly concerned about the "truly" transgendered - those who suffer from gender dysphoria - discretely utilizing the stall next to ours. I lived in San Francisco for nine years, and I am quite certain that I ran across at least a few cross-dressers in the ladies' room during that time. That wasn't a problem for me.

The problem can be summed up in one word: "Predators."

A predator can be anyone from a teenaged "peeping Tom" in the girls' shower, to a rapist who can now lurk (unmolested, as it were) in the ladies' room of his choice.

Back in the primitive, stone-aged days when men used the men's room and women used the women's room, a man observed walking into the ladies' room would be stopped - by security or the police if necessary. They weren't allowed in there. But now, who's to stop the man who claims that he "identifies" as a woman? There is no requirement that he wear a dress or totter on stiletto heels. His word is all he needs.

I don't think most men understand how physically vulnerable most women feel on a daily basis. We are smaller than men, with a lower percentage of muscle mass. We are less physically aggressive. We are far less often the aggressors in violent crime, and far more often the victim. I spent a year and a half in the FBI's Victim Assistance Program, while a mentally ill stalker threatened my life. And four years ago today, in an incident that made national news, I was struck in the face by a man who was incensed that I had honked at him for blocking traffic.

And I'm one of the lucky ones. That's a pretty good track record. I know many women who have endured far worse.

And so, we place a high priority on physical safety. We research neighborhood crime before buying a house. We think twice about where we walk, especially after dark. And, most of all, we appreciate the protective instincts of the men we trust - men who care about us, who look out for us.

To introduce men into our restrooms, locker rooms and showers - places where we are particularly vulnerable - is a betrayal of that trust.

If we are vulnerable in those situations, imagine the vulnerability of the youngest women. Parents can't always accompany their children into the restroom. Dads with daughters, harried moms out with multiple kids - sometimes they can't go into the bathroom with their kids. So they trust that, after they watch their child walk in the door, that child will not find a rapist or a sexual predator on the other side. We used to have store owners, employees and patrons to help us ensure that the facilities were safe.

But, apparently, no longer.

So yes, I do believe there is a "war on women." I believe, as Pia de Solenni recently wrote, ". . . that the bathroom wars indicate that we're entering an entirely new phase of patriarchy which declares victory every time it destroys a safe space for women, including bathrooms, fitting rooms, locker rooms, and so on."

A petition pledging to boycott Target stores currently has netted 1.2 million signatures, including mine. Fourteen states, thus far, have indicated that they will not cooperate with the president's executive order.

I hope the resistance grows.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016