An open letter to whoever left the toilet seat up in Legends the other day

Lyndsay Monsen, Head Copy Editor

I work out a lot when I’m stressed. So, naturally, I was in Legends almost every day last week. And, upon spending a lot of time there recently, I have discovered some of my new favorite things about Luther’s state-of-the-art workout facility.

I just think it’s great how I can walk in there and be instantly transported to a front-row seat at a country music festival because of how loud the music is playing. It’s also so cute when guys stare at me, less than three feet away, while I’m finishing using a machine. And, while we’re on the topic, it’s awesome when men don’t clean machines after they use them!

And by great and cute and awesome I mean that it’s extremely problematic and needs to be addressed.

Because this is not about the toilet. It never was. This is about the toxic masculinity that plagues the Legends for Life Fitness Center and the fact that I cannot work out on campus without stepping into a reformed gentlemen’s club.

When you do things like bounce around from machine to machine with little disregard for others using it, shout and yell on the floor as your friends lift weights, or leave the toilet seat up in a UNISEX bathroom — the titular event of this opinion piece — you perpetuate the stereotype of many workout facilities: that women are a secondary thought when it comes to athletics.

Don’t believe the history of sexism that plagues athletics and Luther specifically? I encourage you to look through the recent series of “Women in Motion” in Chips for countless examples of how female student-athletes have been historically marginalized by the athletic department.

The last time I identified as an athlete was my sophomore year of high school as a middle hitter for the junior varsity volleyball team, so you could say I’m more than a little removed from the world of athletics. So the fact that I, someone who only steps foot into Regents a few times a week for a quick workout, can pick up on the sexism in that building is incredibly upsetting. I cannot even imagine what it would be like for that to be a more integral part of my life.

There are small, tangible things that Luther and Legends can do to change the sexist workout culture. Maybe start with a sign reminding everyone to put the toilet seat down after they’re done using it? It’s great that both of those bathrooms are unisex, and I do not want that to change, but we need to start treating them like the gender-neutral spaces that they are. Could we also set a limit to the noise level of teams when they’re lifting weights on the main floor? I understand that team camaraderie is important, but that does not mean that the music should be turned up as loud as possible and that loud yelling should ensue every five seconds. It is completely disrespectful to everyone else in the room.

These are some small things that I believe would help, but there are also larger, structural things that need to change.

To my male allies: do not be a bystander. I know this is hard, but your friends need you to advocate on behalf of them when we aren’t in the room. Push your teammates to change the way they talk about women. Think about the implications of your actions when working out.

There are small, tangible things that Luther and Legends can do to change the sexist workout culture. Maybe start with a sign reminding everyone to put the toilet seat down after they’re done using it?

-Lyndsay Monsen (‘19)

To my fellow women, non-binary friends, and everyone else who may feel marginalized in Regents or Legends: please, please do not be complicit. There is nothing more frustrating than to see someone who has internalized misogyny their whole life and is now unable to recognize it or just accepts it as truth. If you notice something sexist, do something about it.

So, my friend who left the toilet seat up: I hope you can now understand how this one seemingly small act is so much more than that. You should not leave a mark of your masculinity on a space like you’re a dog urinating marking its territory, especially when that is supposed to be a gender-neutral and inclusive area. Be better. Do better.

We’re supposed to have gender equality at Luther in 2019, so let’s all start acting like it.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations whith which the author(s) are associated.

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