Ha Ha…it’s the butt of the joke: Girls can’t go to the restroom alone.
Why do they always bring a friend. Or two. Do they think they might get lost on the way? Forget where they were sitting? Can’t they do anything on their own?
Well, why is this? Not ‘why is it the butt of the jokes’ - although the constant denunciation does get annoying - but why do girls abide by the buddy system when nature calls?
It could be they need some alone time to plan out their next move. Maybe they need someone to hold the door as they “get it done.” Perhaps they simply want a time out from the social pressure or the noise or the boredom of the main event. Whatever the reason, I’m sure it’s not that deep, so why the psychoanalytical analysis? Can’t you just let girls be girls?
What I’m thinking is this:
Besides the fact that females are social creatures, yeah, they like company, but maybe they are just in tune with the reality that even a short trip to the toilet can introduce all kinds of havoc to their lives, especially if trekking alone.
A few facts:
A. 1 out of 3 females are abused at some point in their lives.
B. Restrooms are often isolated places, absent any surveillance, and easily made into hiding places for a bad guy.
C. Assailants want privacy, control, and the ability to surprise you, and
D. One doesn’t get any more vulnerable than down a deserted hallway, locked in a stall - midstream, if you know what I mean.
So, when the urge strikes and we want to bring a friend along for the ride – can you blame us?
A collaborative visit to the public restroom is one clear example of using your #1 body weapon: your brain (Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, page 104). It makes perfect sense to NOT go it alone, if you can help it.
But there are other times when it is wise to stay connected with others, even if those others are total strangers.
Years ago I was walking down a dirt road near the shore on my way to work. It was just me and some seagulls flying above. It was early in the day and quite serene, I might add. Nothing bad could happen at a beautiful moment like this, right?
Well, enter strange guy.
Coming toward me was this person, a male, someone I did not recognize. Now, I’m not saying he had any malicious intent, it’s just that it was only the two of us out there in the wild blue yonder. Well, and the seagulls, who were useless to me in the scheme of things.
So here I was - alone, isolated, and vulnerable. I thought to turn around and run but I did need to get to work. And, after all, I’d done this a thousand times and it was generally a safe location, albeit isolated. So I poopooed (pun intended) my own internal warning and decided to stand tall, maintain eye contact, shoot badass vibes from my pores, and plow forward.
Suddenly, as if the universe sensed my trepidation, I saw a vehicle in the distance come around the bend to my rescue. Well, they might not have had that as their morning mission but I was grateful for their company. It was just what I needed to relax and make my move. With the presence of a third party, I knew I was safe for the time being; that I had a five minute window before they disappeared into the horizon.
So I started running. I ran as fast as I could, getting closer to civilization, where I knew I was in the clear, out of danger. I knew as long as this vehicle was in sight I was safe.
As stated in the teen girl safety book Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, one of the basic principles of self-defense is “never let yourself be taken to a secondary crime scene, a place where an assailant has more privacy to do what he wants. Stay in a public place where people can see you. Drop to the ground to keep from being pulled into isolation.” (TFFGGP, page 93)
See, bad guys need privacy. They need isolation. They want to do whatever evil they have in mind with no outside interference, no trouble, and they do not want to get caught. Having people around you ruins their plans and may save your life.
So whether you are walking to school (“Street Safety”, page 41), going on a first date (“Dating Someone New”, page 52), or going to the restroom, don’t go it alone. Keep yourself in the company of others, even if it’s simply other strangers.
Especially if it is an isolated area, like a path through the woods, or a parking lot after a trip to the mall, travel with others. Ask a security guard to watch you get safely to your car or dorm. Sit in the front of the bus near the bus driver. Need to “go”? Ask a friend if she needs to powder her nose. Hold it in if you must, but don’t put yourself in a position of isolation and opportunity for an assailant.
When it comes to your safety, two may be company, but three’s definitely not a crowd. Don’t worry about the teasing. After all, it’s your life.
Kathy Greene Lahey, LMSW, AC, is the author of Taking Flight For Girls Going Places, a preventive tool to help independence-bound girls stay safe, confident, and empowered. Check out the weekly safety blog for girls and monthly “for the moms” on https://www.girlsgoingplaces-us.com/
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