Well, let’s start at the beginning. One day, while using the public bathroom and admiring the scrawlings left by men, I wondered, do women write on bathroom walls?
And if they did write on the walls, did they write about the same things as men?
Here began my study. What could we learn if we compared these parallel worlds? By looking somewhere we usually can’t, can we finally reveal the dark inner workings of the opposite sex?
In an effort to answer those question, I decided to do an experiment. With the help of a female friend, we documented the messages left in 100 public bathrooms cubicles. We would go to each location, where a toilet was available to the public, and she entered the women’s bathroom and I entered the men’s bathroom. From there we took a photo of every single message we found. Overall we collected more than 1000 individual messages. Then came the tricky bit. I went through each image and analysed every individual message. Everything from tone, words used, political references – all the way to spelling and grammar. I looked for patterns in the data and finally, I compared the results from the women’s bathrooms with the results from the men’s bathrooms.
Above is an example of how data was pulled from an individual message. Each point represents a piece of data, all as important as each other.
- The image was taken in the men’s bathroom.
- Kristen is a woman’s name. So this is an example of a female name being used by a man.
- The sentence structure and words used implies a sexual activity. So this becomes an example of a man mentioning a woman in a sexual manner.
- The message was written in a marker pen.
Each image was scrutinized in this manner. While I don’t claim to be a scientist or a statistician, this process was methodical and the approach thorough.
The location of the bathrooms have been recorded and the data is available upon request. This study was conducted in London throughout 2016 in the areas of Dalston, Soho, Shoreditch, Camden and Peckham.
I took this way too seriously.
This project wouldn’t be possible without a lot of support. A huge huge thank you to Indiana Matine, Iain Tait, Wieden+Kennedy, Shakira Twigden, Pete Browse, Ben Polkinghorne, Lou De Keyzer, Josh Yee and George Howes.