Toilet film lifts lid on social exclusion

Besi Besemar March 23, 2018

A new short film brings to light the challenges some people face in using public toilets.

The Toilet, a film which is part of the Around the Toilet project, led by Dr Jen Slater from Sheffield Hallam University, is an animated film which weaves together personal accounts from transgender, disabled and Muslim people, who share their experiences and challenges of using public toilets in a society where current toilet provisions prioritise some people’s needs at the expense of others.

The public release of The Toilet. follows preview events in Reykjavik, Glasgow at the Scottish Queer International Film Festival, Together! Disability Film Festival in London, and the Manchester Animation Film Festival, as well as its official premiere in Sheffield at the ESRC Festival of Social Science.

The short animated film explores the importance of the toilet in feeling comfortable and welcome in everyday life. It illustrates how inaccessible or unsafe toilets affect people in a range of ways, stopping some from leaving the house, and leading others to lose their jobs, or avoid food and drink, and taking day trips and holidays.

Dr Jen Slater
Dr Jen Slater

Dr Jen Slater, a reader in disability studies and education at Sheffield Hallam, said: “We’re very excited for this film to be available to the public. Although it focuses on what is thought to be a mundane space, the focus on toilets in fact raises much bigger issues, about who is included and excluded from public space, and who is valued in our society.

“Toilets therefore become a crucial practical issue which can create and reaffirm feelings of exclusion and regulation.  Sharing our findings through film is a brilliant opportunity to bring important social and political issues to a wider audience through the stories of people who face this kind of marginalisation on a daily basis.

“Lots of public, charitable and campaigning organisations have already heard about the film and got in touch to ask about using it in their own work. We’re hopeful that making it available for public viewing and sharing it will get people thinking creatively about the need to change toilet design.”

Around the Toilet is a cross-disciplinary, arts-based research project funded by the AHRC Connected Communities programme.

To watch The Toilet. view: