Finding A Loo With Looie


A few months ago, I had an incredible bathroom experience. I was at Kaffe 1668 in Tribeca, when I realized the restroom there using was suspiciously luxurious. And that’s when I noticed a sign asking for feedback for Looie. Founded by siblings Yezin and Dina Al-Qaysi, Looie helps john-seeking city dwellers locate a pristine bathroom nearby.

Dina Al-Qaysi

Looie is a startup in the earliest stages of conception, currently operating on a small scale in Lower Manhattan. The idea came to Dina when she found herself needing access to a bathroom that was clean and stocked – a foreign concept to New Yorkers, but a familiar one to the Canadienne, herself. At the time, Al-Qaysi was running her first company, DoBundle and was in and out of meetings all day, like any budding creator would be. “I always have this notebook beside me and I always write down ideas of what I want to do," she says. DoBundle was doing well, but Al-Qaysi wanted to do something bigger. “We were so thirsty to work on a product that really helped everyday people.”

At the heart of the Looie philosophy is that Everyone needs to use the bathroom at one point or another. Planning your day around when you’ll go should not, and will not, be a necessity anymore.

From the user side, you get to try luxury bathroom products that you wouldn’t otherwise try all at once. Looie plans to swap out partners from time to time, so there will always be a product you haven’t tried yet, but want to sample before you buy it.

“Looie is a very powerful ad platform," says Dina. "This is a private space in which users can discover and test products and provide feedback.” Even DJs have gotten in on the action – they have asked Al-Qaysi if they could play a “bathroom mixtape” to Looie users over the speakers. The possibility for partnerships is wrought with opportunity.

Additionally, Looie will take charge of cleaning and maintaining participating bathrooms, freeing up responsibilities for employees of that establishment. From the restaurant side, the benefit is two-fold. First and foremost, outsourcing bathroom maintenance means that the person preparing your food isn’t the same person cleaning the bathroom. A novel concept indeed.

For the business owner, Looie is a means of extra foot-traffic, providing exposure to the business, itself. Looie’s bathrooms reflect the vibe of the business, so your bathroom experience will give consumers an idea of what their experience with the business will be. Looie aims to make that experience a positive one.

Bathrooms for families and the handicapped are few and far between.

One of the potentially strongest reasons for the Looie business, is that there is an incredible need for safe and clean bathrooms. Parenthood is hard enough without the added stress of having to choose a restaurant that has a bathroom with a changing table in it. In addition, bathrooms for families and the handicapped are few and far between. “This city is made in a way where it’s like survival of the fittest,” said Dina. Looie is here to change that. “If you don’t come in, and if you don’t say that these are the values that we stand for in every bathroom, it will not exist.”

Not only does Looie have a changing table in every single one of its bathrooms, but it has the “Mercedes of changing tables” – one that is fully stocked with anything a “mom would need on the go.”

Looie is like other conscious capitalist endeavors in that it solves a universal problem. Everyone needs to use the bathroom at one point or another. Planning your day around when you’ll go should not, and will not, be a necessity anymore. Because Looie is still just starting out, the important details, like how much access to these luxury bathrooms would cost, are still being negotiated among the team members. Regardless of the details, Looie has a bright future indeed.


A Modern Day Witch Hunt: How Caster Semenya's Gender Became A Hot Topic In The Media

Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.

Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.

That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.

Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.

Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.

Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.

With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.

The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.

Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.

As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.

Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.