Friday, September 22, 2006

Bias at the $7 million level

I've been noticing some things in magazine pages lately, which is what I do with some of those little moments when I don't have anything to do, but the time is too short to launch anything. We subscribe to too many magazines. It's most likely over 10 or 12, and that doesn't include literary journals. Since we don't travel much or get out much beyond the immediate vicinity of WDC and Montgomery/PG Counties, I suppose magazines bring the rest of the world to us--or at least various editors' visions of the rest of the world to us.

And it's an odd vision of the world they bring to us--highly individualized, highly attuned to demographics. Do we subscribe to the right blend of magazines? Do we get a full picture of the world? Undoubtedly, we do not. We must surely gravitate toward a version of the world that reflects our own interests and opinions, or our ideals at any rate. Or, I suppose, the images of ideals available to us. Maybe I could make my own magazine by putting together just the articles from various magazines that arrive at our doorstep that speak to me in particular. I could cut out and delete the words and images that don't. What an odd thing to think of doing. To develop a glossy paper version of the commercialized self.

Anyway. I like to look at the floorplans for the multi-million dollars apartments available for sale in NYC. Especially the ones near the park. And the NY Times Sunday magazine has several, every week--conveniently. And when I have that much money, I'll be ready. Although I may put some of my early riches into some worthy causes first. So it will be a while before I can afford a $7 million four-bedroom apartment in NYC on the Park with a gallery, a large patio-style balcony, and a library. And let's not forget the several bathrooms.

And bathrooms are what puzzle me the most about these expensive apartments. First of all, which bedrooms rank a private bath. The master suite, and more about that in a minute, always has two bathrooms, and they are private, within the suite itself. But the subordinate bedrooms sometimes have a private bath, and other times, the potential occupant must walk across the hall in their jammies to use the facilities, which seems like such a shame when you're living in a $7 million apartment. If anything, spending $7 million should take away those moments of exposure. Is the issue of hall bathrooms relative to the renovation of grand old buildings, wherein the original pipe placement is not always convenient for developers?

But back to the issue of the master suite. I note that the two bathrooms are always labeled, "His" and "Hers." And "His" is almost always more spartan than "Hers." "Hers" typically involves having two sinks, a very large, deep, probably Jacuzzi-style tub (most likely on a pedestal), and a separate shower. Sometimes "Hers" will have both a toilet and a bidet. "His" on the other hand, is often much like the bathrooms of the subordinate persons: a toilet, single sink, and often not even a tub, but only a shower.

When you consider the fact that money in NYC is not solely the provenance of heterosexual couples, it does strike me as odd that developers and designers would persist in this sort of biased labeling of bathrooms. Even when you're talking about a heterosexual couple, it is probably only out of some misplaced sense of machoism and attention to the proprieties of male heterosexual identity in America that would cause a guy to say, sure, I'm happy with the lesser bathroom. I don't need luxury! That's for my wife! Despite the fact that I pull down millions of dollars a year, I'm happy with a very plain and simple potty area. You know these guys spend a lot of time in their wives' bathrooms--that's why there are always two sinks.

And when you consider that gay couples are much more likely to have the millions of dollars to buy such an apartment since they tend to have fewer children than heterosexual couples--here I'm guessing, but it seems true enough, and children are expensive--you have a situation where the pressure of gender expectations does not necessarily produce a partner willing to accept the lesser bathroom. And if you're paying $7 million for an apartment, you certainly shouldn't have to share a bathroom, not even, and especially, with the one you love.

What are developers thinking? How, in the gross servility to monied interests that greases the wheel of all daily activities in NYC, all transactions, all forms and modes of life, living, and sacred honor, could developers have overlooked the opportunity to toady to the interests of the rich by creating bathroom parity in $7 million apartments?

No comments: