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Women waiting in line to use public toilets is… sexist?

Women waiting in line to use public toilets is… sexist?

Denying women their god-given right to pee

Gendered restroom spaces have endured intense public scrutiny lately, but usually from the “stop with your fascist gender labels and let me pick my preferred pronoun!” crowd.

So this piece in TIME is slightly outside of the “ban public restroom gender divisions” norm.

Soraya Chemaly, the author, describes herself as a, “media critic and activist whose work focuses on the role of gender in politics, religion and popular culture.” Context is important.

The story begins with her visit to the the loo at The British Museum:

Despite years of “potty parity” laws, women are still forced to stand in lines at malls, schools, stadiums, concerts, fair grounds, theme parks, and other crowded public spaces. This is frustrating, uncomfortable, and, in some circumstances, humiliating. It’s also a form of discrimination, as it disproportionately affects women.

Some say “discrimination”, others say “biology”, but let’s continue:

After counting the women, I tweeted, “Dear @britishmuseum there are FIFTY women and girls standing in line for the loo while the men’s room has zero line #everydaysexism.” Immediately, people responded with the suggestion that women use the men’s room. But even more responses were defensive, along the lines of “How on god’s green earth did you arrive at the conclusion that this was sexist?”

Let me count the ways.

Because I like you (probably), I’ll spare you the bathroom details, but Chemaly makes a few interesting, if not completely horrendously selfish and misinformed gendercentric claims; a common theme in modern “feminism.”

The first being that, “we [women] are responsible for reproducing the species.” Barring some unprecedented evolutionary leap, and the Virgin Mary, until reading this enlightening TIME article, I was unaware human women were capable of asexual reproduction. My ignorance is probably just a coordinated effort by the patriarchy to keep me repressed.

Chemaly also insists, “we [women] continue to have greater responsibility for children (who have to use bathrooms with us).” In the era of the Stay-At-Home-Dad, and personally witnessing many a man accompanying their offspring to the potty, I’m not sure how this is possible. Plus history.

To her point, why do women now bear greater responsibility for their children than women of prior generations? If Chemaly would like to consider that having children out of wedlock is more prevalent than ever, and if she wanted to be honest that this phenomena is largely due to what feminists deem a success in their liberation movement, then OK. You can’t be liberated and insist on rearing a child on your own and then complain that you are rearing a child on your own. I mean, you can, but that’s what most call a “hypocrite.”

But in a classic example of the difference between surface “equality” and genuine equity, many public restrooms continue to be facilities that are equal in physical space, while favoring men’s bodies, experiences, and needs.

Some women won’t be happy until that Y chromosome functions exactly like its buddy, X. Relatedly, do they still teach biology in school?

Legislation to address the design and provision of public restrooms in new construction often requires more space for women’s rooms. But that has hardly made a dent in many of our oldest and most used public spaces. This is especially true in powerful institutions, such as schools and government complexes, where old buildings, and their gendered legacies, dominate. In the United States, for example, women in the House of Representatives didn’t get a bathroom near the Speaker’s Lobby until 2011.

Name one time the government has ever done anything quickly. One.Time. I’ll wait.

Women aren’t standing in lines because we bond over toilet paper pattern or because we’re narcissistic and vain. We’re standing in line because our bodies, like those of trans and queer people, have been historically shamed, ignored, and deemed unworthy of care and acknowledgement. We shouldn’t have to wait or postpone having these needs fairly met in public space.

The agony, the HORROR! What kind of society have we created when one is required to wait in line to use a sanitary indoor facility? And how DARE James Madison omit the guarantee of a shorter restroom line for women in the Bill of Rights!

I for one, stand in ardent opposition to the “right to pee” movement. No offense, men. Y’all are great, wonderful, amazing creatures, but you’re also gross. Sharing a bathroom with your kind at home is one thing, but being forced to share the public john with the whole lot of you? That is cause for protest.

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Men are gross? I think you should take a look at public women’s restrooms and rethink that.

Time and time again I hear from both sexes that women’s bathrooms are **A LOT** nastier then men. Between social media, and all those retail worker forums women have men beat when it comes to complete filth in the restroom.

Men should be afraid to share a restroom with women, no the other way around. Men should be **very** afraid.


    I believe the term you are looking for is “hover squat”.

    Valerie in reply to tphillip. | January 8, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Sorry, I’ve cleaned both. The women’s bathroom would stay reasonably clean throughout the shift, and the men’s would stink like stale piss. For an experiment, we cleaned them both really well, and switched the labels on the doors. After two weeks, the one labeled women’s would be reasonably clean throughout the shift, and the men’s smelled like stale piss.

      SeanInLI in reply to Valerie. | January 8, 2015 at 10:51 pm

      Valerie, where was this location? Because I have worked in retail and in a public park, and in all situations, the women’s room was always the messiest. There may have always been that “splash zone” around the men’s urinals, but that was generally it. Women seemed to be terrified of making contact with anything in the bathroom, as there was paper everywhere.

      Woman may not create a “splash zone” like you find at a men’s urinal, but they certainly do not make any effort to keep public restrooms tidy.

It really did take architects a long time to figure out to build more women’s rooms.
Zellerbach concert hall in Berkeley is the worst. Going to the bathroom takes the entire break between acts. And you you think my husband enjoys standing around and waiting?

    In Chicago at the hockey games, the guys would finish up their line, and then stand guard to let the ladies use their facilities. Chicago is a great city.

    el polacko in reply to edgeofthesandbox. | January 8, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    at zellerback in berkeley, the lesbians elbow their way past the men in line to commandeer the stalls in the men’s room. it’s their ‘right’ …or something.

      LSBeene in reply to el polacko. | January 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Actually that does not surprise me.

      Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had a lot of lesbian friends, and besides the rad-fem ones, they are very nice ladies who happen to like women for dating.

      That said – rad-fem lesbians tend to be militant, hypocritical, look down their noses at men and het(erosexual) relationships, and love shoving their relationships (and the supposed superiority of those relationships) into everyone’s faces.

      Also – rad-fem lesbians really do tend to be very exclusionary. They LOVE films where a woman discovers her desire for women and leaves the Het(erosexual) world, but they FREAK if they see the reverse.

      I’ve had a few friends who were bi (females) who, once they left dating a woman were absolutely exclused from the group once they started dating a man.

      Again – this is a FEW lesbians – a subset.

      Most lesbians I know are just folks trying to make their way in the world same as me – and besides, I can see why they’re attracted to women, lol.

Of course being able to write your initials in the snow is not only easier based on anatomy but also easier if you aren’t burdened with a hyphenated last name. Now the absolute joy of peeing off a high bridge…….

Joey Williams | January 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

The men have their own reasons to complain, throwing the gauntlet back down to the women. In the typical men’s room at a place like a sports arena, there will be perhaps 20 urinals, and two stalls. If you need to urinate, that’s great – but if you need a sit-down toilet, then you can face an ugly wait. A not inconsiderable number of men, out of shyness (yes, men can be sensitive) will use the stalls to urinate, and dads will take their young sons in there to “do their business”. It’s not uncommon to see men standing and waiting for a chance at a stall.

And, in my experience, the lines only form at the women’s rooms during major breaks in the action. At any given time, there is no line visible. (Yes, I know that doesn’t necessarily mean one doesn’t exist, but if it does, it’s not a long one.) When the activity takes a break (between quarters in football/basketball, between periods in hockey, intermission for stage events) then a line forms – but one also forms at the MEN’S room! I know this all too well; I have season hockey tickets at an arena where my line-of-sight from my seat reaches to within 20 feet of the nearest men’s room. During each and every break, a line forms well out into the hallway.

And as for women being the ones to look after children – as a stay-at-home dad during the past 20 years, I found myself frustrated many times by the fact that while women’s rooms had [loudly advertised] changing tables, men’s rooms did not. SEXISM!!!!!

    Mr. Izz in reply to Joey Williams. | January 8, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Men’s restrooms are supposed to have changing tables. Well, I design them that way, lol.

    “I found myself frustrated many times by the fact that while women’s rooms had [loudly advertised] changing tables, men’s rooms did not. SEXISM!!!!!”

    Amen to that. I’m not a stay-at-home dad, but I spend a lot of time with my kids, including a lot of time out-of-the-house. I’m usually the one who takes the kids on restroom breaks when we’re all out as a family, too. This situation – no changing table in the boys’/men’s room, even at family establishments – has pissed me off (pun intended) more times than I care to remember.

      The new style diaper bags come with included folded floor changing pads, so that you don’t have to worry about having a changing table. They’re not particularly large, and you have to squat down or take a knee in order to change a baby, but they are useful.

Well, obviously, the remedy is to remove the limited space devouring individual fully enclosed toilet stalls women just must absolutely require so that they can have complete privacy for their delicates, and simply make women urinate in a long aluminum trough with no privacy separators like men are forced to do. Leave one privacy stall for the occasional changing of the guard though.

Of course, the trough will have to be installed in the floor and flush with the floor so there’s no tripping hazard resulting in personal injury lawsuits. That should be easy enough to do. And, bonus… without the individual stalls, they could install multiple troughs which should result in eliminating lines at women’s bathrooms entirely.

Problem solved. That Was Easy!

To the women complaining: 1. Stop buying/wearing clothes that take large amounts of time to remove or do not permit you to perform bodily functions without removing it entirely. 2. Stop doing your makeup, texting, etc. in the stall. Go in, do your business and get out. and 3. stop making a mess in the stall so the next person has to waste time cleaning it up.

As someone who designs commercial buildings for a living… I do everything possible to make sure women have the proper space in the restrooms. Architects design everything based on codes given by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). I’m sure the UK has similar requirements.

That being said, if she has an issue with the restrooms, she will have to take it up with the ADA. Doing so would basically be admitting that being a woman is a disability. I’m sure that would go over really well with radical feminists.

(Side note, if there is a line that long, then the person that did the code analysis based on occupancy utterly failed, or the owner figured out some way to put in less facilities in order to adhere to inspections. Bathrooms are very expensive.)

…And we’re down to this. Sounds like sexism in the US is officially eliminated.

Ms. Chemaly should visit some other cultures, there are a few that still need feminism, maybe she would get some perspective on how silly she sounds and what liberty for women really means.

If a woman’s bathroom needs more space in order to achieve the same throughput, can we blame it on “womanspreading”?

… but being forced to share the public john with the whole lot of you?

I don’t mean to offend you, Kemberlee, but the feeling’s mutual.

Just more proof that women don’t care about the science of sitting to pee, they just want men to be as miserable as they are.

Henry Hawkins | January 8, 2015 at 4:48 pm

We need regulations forcing all adult males to squat to pee.


Some people complain about everything !!

Again, with certain aggrieved groups, it the equality of outcome that is the issue as in my kine better not be any longer than your line.

Maybe the government should supply ObamaDepends like it does with condoms and Obamaphones. Flukeomania!

There are always solutions:
1) Design all stadium seats to be a toilet with a pull-up privacy screen (optional in some cities).
2) Provide all patrons with diapers and a can of air freshener.
3)Require all women’s clothing manufacturers to have a stem to stern zipper on all garments for quick release. Men’s clothing already have quick release functions. Alternative requirement = flaps,like seen on some long johns.
4)Reward women who can get in and out of the restroom in less than 60 seconds with free hot dogs. Would this be a micro-aggression?
5) Double the number of women’s restroom by converting all men’s restrooms. Men can just pee over the sides of the concourses.
6) Design an automatic toilet seat cover to eliminate the the time it takes for a woman to put down TP on the seat. Extra points for the designer if the design is faulty and it tries to remove the woman before she is done. Double extra points if the design causes the seat cover to get caught up in the woman’s clothing.
7) An alternative to #1 = buckets at each seat to collect excreta to throw at their crappy team.
8) just tell this author to get a life.

They can and have made female urinals before. American women won’t use them. For some reason they get hung up on dropping trou in next to perfect strangers. So, until you lose that little neurosis, gals — YOU WAIT IN LINE!!!

Not sexist. Poorly planned.

That said, how do they accommodate the three dozen or so gender orientations?

    Paul In Sweden in reply to n.n. | January 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Start answering the gender equality problem by requiring all govt. funded establishments, universities, Agencies, and Congress to eliminate gender specific facilities and mandate unisex, toilets, showers, and dressing rooms and dorms.

give the women a trough to use just like the men are often forced to use. i mean we want equality…right ?

Besides a lot of complaining, I see a definite lack of a specific requirement that would satisfy the clientele.
For any public facility with restrooms serving a specified number of people, say 1,000 people, how many toilets of each gender should be required? Of these, how many should be capable of handling a wheelchair, and how many urinals instead of toilets for the men’s room?
Does gender equality dictate that there should be equal numbers of toilets and/or urinals for each gender, or should an acknowledgement that there are differing needs based on gender lead to a requirement that there should be some multiplier of toilets for females for every toilet and urinal for males? Obviously, requiring 500 toilets for 500 female patrons to reduce any chance of a line is not going to happen, but what number is sufficient?

Empress Trudy | January 9, 2015 at 7:40 am

Simply have another Federal program to build 3 women’s toilets for every man’s toilet. Obamawizz.

Didn’t see anything about a stall count. Do the women’s restrooms have the same number of facilities as men’s? If so, the problem is not discrimination. If not, then why not?

Henry Hawkins | January 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I hate men.

The other thing, which few seem to want to address:

**SOME** women seem to feel the bathroom is a social area and, anyone who has lived with women, especially teenagers, they WILL NOT BE RUSHED.

And that’s the other part – and it’s a known quantity – you see it in movies, in real life, in anecdotes, and it’s literally a consideration when buying a house.

**SOME** women tend to think the bathroom is their place to hang out, check make up, chat, text on the toilet, and NO ONE had better try to hurry them up.

I’d like to see that REALITY addressed.

Paul In Sweden | January 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm

“we [women] continue to have greater responsibility for children (who have to use bathrooms with us).”

Observations at age restricted establishments where children are not permitted indicate that children using bathrooms with mothers is not the underlying issue as the long lines exist everywhere.

Y’all are great, wonderful, amazing creatures, but you’re also gross. Sharing a bathroom with your kind at home is one thing, but being forced to share the public john with the whole lot of you? That is cause for protest.

Seems to be an issue that should be directed towards those in the past, present and in the future that have, are and will fail at their ‘responsibility’ to potty train children(especially men) and IMO, that is not the only aspect of child rearing that has been a failure.