Bare Life: Restroom Anxiety and the Urge for Control

Harvey Molotch

in Against Security

Published by Princeton University Press

Published in print August 2014 | ISBN: 9780691163581
Published online October 2017 | e-ISBN: 9781400852338
Bare Life: Restroom Anxiety and the Urge for Control

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This chapter takes up what might at first appear an unlikely setting for examining security dynamics: the public restroom. There are lessons to be taken from this venue, so often ignored in serious scholarship and indeed the usual basis only for jokes. Here we can see anxieties in play and all sorts of unsavory mechanisms, both at the micro and macro level, that come in response. The toilet allows us to see the combination of factors that repress—the usual culprits of class, race, and gender discrimination—but also soulful anxieties that come with the more basic human territory. Some degree of capitalist plot is happening, but that is only part of the story—a larger lesson to be considered across other less intimate realms, whether market-based or not. Whatever the combination of sources, the chapter points the way toward a safer and more pleasant toilet and one with the promise of ecological reform.

Keywords: public restroom; security; anxiety; human territory; ecological reform; class; race; gender discrimination

Chapter.  9331 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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