Public Toilets, Peeing and Vaginas

Kati Ots

Pursuing a variety of research directions and intervention approaches, I propose destabilizing default assumptions by collectively (re-)imagining a safer, more accessible and inclusive public restroom. As part of my project I wish to carry out experiments, develop guidelines for peeing standing up with a vagina, and propose a workshop rethinking toilet pictograms.

© Kim Dickey "Lady J Series" (1994–1999)


Why are there separate toilets for men, women, and disabled people? What’s up with the long lines for women’s bathrooms? Why aren’t there urinals for women? Is Duchamp’s “Fontain” actually a feminist piece by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven?

How did we end up using the man-woman pictogram on the toilet sign? A hole or a bowl? Should we use urine and feces as fertilizers? What’s the most sustainable way of using the toilet? Why is it especially important to close the toilet seat during a pandemic?

Is a skirt more functional than pants? How is going to the toilet still life-threatening for women and different minority groups around the world today?

Throughout history, public restrooms have been the site of institutional discrimination by race, religion, physical ability, class, and gender. Connecting the public and private spheres while reflecting and sustaining cultural attitudes, public toilets are sites in which ideology, institutions and inequality collide. Focusing on gender discrimination, I explore different ways of addressing the topic, often testing things out myself and using my own body as a subject of experimentation.

Summer Semester 2021
Kati Ots
Erasmus exchange student