I was recently confronted (during the preparation of my photo trip to Brazil) to a situation somewhat common. I did not take notice of it before, but I was tickled this time.
Facts first: In order to reduce the cost of lodging during my trip the travel agent offered to share my room with another photographer travelling alone too. It happened before and for a an expensive trip like a phot safari, this can be appreciated. Nevertheless, what had me thinking was slightly different: In this same trip, there is a lonely woman photographer; But the travel agent told me that they could not offer me (us?) to share our room because I am a man.
The implicit reasonning is that the sexual difference could create a problem that the agent does not want to be responsible for. It is still possible to negotiate this in the beginning of the trip though – under our own responsibility.
I was stricken by the fact that it is an a priori position deeply marked by the travel agent hypothesis that their customers are heterosexually inclined. My intent is not to criticize the agent, but to think about the fact that this is a preconception shared by the general public and reflected in many of our society’s aspects. Sexual tension between two people is only thought as possible between a man and a woman. This is the case when you may share a hotel/lodge room, you separate gym’s dressing rooms or toilets, you have special days for women in a hamam, etc.
Isn’t it weird that this hypothesis is still so common? I mean, after all, our societies ignored (or denied?) homosexuality up to quite recently. But current figures give estimates of the number of homosexual people at one or two millions in France , 800,000 among French men between 18 and 69 , nearly 1% of Canadian marriages , 65,000 in the American armed forces . Simply from these figures, it is easy to state that the mere hypothesis of the absence of homosexuality should be abandonned by our society.
When will we see dressing rooms that are either without sexual distinctions or completely individualized, shared toilet rooms, etc.?