Bathrooms are a haven for women. They’re where we prepare for the day ahead, where we unwind, where we escape to with our friends to gossip about someone cute at the bar, and sometimes they’re where we go when we just need a break and want to play Candy Crush in peace. Lately, it seems that not even our porcelain sanctuaries are safe anymore. First came the lawmakers, who tried to exclude people from our bathrooms based on their gender identity, and now: perverts.
Beginning last summer, police in Florida received reports of hidden cameras disguised as coat hooks that were being placed in public restrooms.
Tiny cameras at the top of the devices capture sound and motion, and some are motion-activated, so when a someone collects them at the end of the day, they don’t have to sort through hours of footage to invade someone’s privacy. And as it turns out, invading someone’s privacy is remarkably affordable — the cameras, that are sold as “home security devices” online, cost as little as $13.
Now, through various pervert networks (Reddit, I guess?) the scheme has crossed the pond. Luke Whiting, a 21-year-old from Suffolk, was recently banned from all McDonald’s stores after he was found guilty of installing cameras in the women’s toilet of the restaurant where he worked. He was caught after a colleague of his spotted the device when she went into the restroom one night.
Coat hook cameras aren’t the only way women’s bathroom spaces have been compromised. Earlier this month, a plumber from Bristol was found guilty of filming a pregnant woman in the shower with a spy cam, and in Indiana, the owner of a kennel-free dog care was arrested after hiding a camera in a first aid kit in the women’s room to film his female employees changing.
Maybe you’re thinking, hey ladies, pick a different haven! One that isn't so easy to install cameras in and also isn't where you poop. Well, that's easier said than done. The truth is women don’t exactly have a ton of options, because we live in a society where simply having the gall to exist in a woman’s body is seen as an invitation to objectify, harass, and consume us.
But look, perverts/patriarchy at large, I’m going to level with you: women aren’t asking for much. All we’re asking is that you let us decide how to be women (less work for you!), that you pay us fairly, and don’t harass us. And until then, please, please for the love of all that is good in this world, just let us — all of us! — pee in peace.