The Phantom Holocaust

Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender

Public toilets provide a unique opportunity for interrogating how conventional assumptions about the body, sexuality, privacy, and technology are formed in public spaces and inscribed through design across cultures. This collection of original essays from international scholars is the first to explore the cultural meanings, histories, and ideologies of public toilets as gendered spaces.

Ladies and Gents consists of two sets of essays. The first, "Potty Politics: Toilets, Gender and Identity," establishes the importance of accessible, secure public toilets to the creation of inclusive cities, work, and learning environments. The second set of essays, "Toilet Art: Design and Cultural Representations," discusses public toilets as spaces of representation and representational spaces, with reference to architectural design, humor, film, theater, art, and popular culture. Compelling visual materials and original artwork are included throughout, depicting subjects as varied as female urinals, art installations sited in public restrooms, and the toilet in contemporary art.

Taken together, these seventeen essays demonstrate that public toilets are often sites where gendered bodies compete for resources and recognition—and the stakes are high.

Ladies and Gents in the Media

De Vos, E. (2011). [Book review]. Technology and Culture, 52(1) , 220-221.

Ross, A. I. (2010, November). [Gendering the toilet]. H-Histsex, H-Net Reviews.

Dudzik, M.R. (2010). [Book review]. Interiors: Design, Architecture, Culture, 1(1) , 167-169.

Feldman, S. (2010, March/April). Going to the ladiesNew Humanist, 125(2).

Housel, R. (2010). [Book review]. The Journal of Popular Culture, 43(1), 206-207.

Gilbert, E. (2009). [Book review]. Library Journal , Sept. 1

Van Deven, M. (2009, August 17). Looking into the toilet: Potty politics. The Women's International Perspective (

Beam, A. (2005, June 2). Academia goes down the drainBoston Globe. [Reprinted in International Herald Tribune , 2005, June 3.]