Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Single Occupancy Restrooms

How many times do you go to use the restroom in a public place, like a restaurant, and find a
single-occupancy bathroom with a gendered designation. The bathroom contains a toilet a sink and a tp dispenser, what possible utility could there be for having a gender designation. In multi-occupancy bathrooms there are potential privacy concerns. Personally, i think those are silly and that it'd be more effecient if we got over them and used one slightly larger bathroom rather than two smaller ones. I bet you'd only have to increase the number of stalls to 4 to handle the same number of folks who had been using two three person bathrooms. At least there is some vaguely reasonable argument for why you'd have separate multi-occupancy restrooms, but why single-occupancy? as Jo pointed out at age 8 (or so i am told), we use non-gender designated single-occupancy bathrooms at home, so why not elsewhere?
I can think of four reasons, mostly unconvincing.
  • men and/or women will keep a bathroom more tidy if it is genders designated
    • this seems silly. are men or women going to be messier if they know the other may subsequently use the bathroom?
  • men (or women) are messier than the other group and this protects minority rights
    • this may be more reasonable. perhaps men leave the seat up, etc. perhaps women prefer to have their space protected.
  • people feel more comfortable knowing they haven't shared a john with a member of a different gender group
    • i suppose it's probable such people exist but i haven't ever heard someone express this opinion.
  • they are outfitted differently
    • this is perhaps the most compelling: a men's room may also have a urinal, a womens room napkins/tampons/etc. This is important for sex reasons. If this is the reason, they'd more properly be called males and females rooms rather than mens and womens. This last point stands the above arguments as well.
All this to say, what a weird situation.


At 6/12/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

Agreed-- gender specified single occupancy bathrooms are silly.

As for multi-occupancy bathrooms, I'm ok with non-gender-specified in theory. In practice, I'd want the stalls and latches to be better constructed before I'd actually be ok with it.

When I was staying in the volunteers hostel in New Orleans, there was one 3-stall bathroom, so everyone used it. The stall dividers had vanished, and someone had strung up shower curtains on fishing line. On the one hand, better coverage. On the other, they sometimes swayed precariously.

The showers were similarly rigged. Once, two women and one man were showering, and the whole thing fell down. The man grabbed his towel, closed his eyes, and ran. After that we had separate times for showers :)

As for other reasons:
-messiness-- women's bathrooms can be pretty messy too.

-I don't understand hesitation to use the same bathroom as a person of a different sex. people do it all the time.

-women might be self conscious about buying pads and tampons in front of men (and some men freak out at the sight of these items). maybe a screen or a panel shielding the dispenser, so people will be more comfortable?

At 6/13/2007 , Anonymous moneychangesthings said...

What about women's safety? I can't think of very many women who would feel comfortable locked in a stall where men could comeinto the bathroom. I don't like being in an elevator alone with a man, so kal v'homer, in a bathroom! This is not paranoia. Men regularly attack and kill vulnerable women.
No problem with Single Unit unisex johns, though.

At 6/13/2007 , Blogger Eli said...

When I see two single-occupancy gendered bathrooms side-by-side, I use the female one just to spite the system.

(Plus, women don't pee on the toilet seat.)

At 6/13/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

eli-- quite possibly women do so less. but I can promise you it's a problem with women's bathrooms too :)

At 6/15/2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Single occupancy restrooms is a fine idea. You use them on airplanes and at home.

Multi-person occupancy restrooms is not practical in American society. Too many people would be offended and horrified at the mere thought. They might not go to the bathroom, preferring to hold it until they have some sort of medical emergency. Ruptured bladder? Perforated bowel? This can be nasty stuff.

For those who advocate for multi-occupancy, gender neutral restrooms...you are simply forcing your opinions and values on another group of people. For shame.

At 6/15/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

anon-- no one is forcing anything. we're *discussing*.

At 6/16/2007 , Blogger BZ said...

I think one reason for gendered single-user bathrooms in some places is regulations requiring that there be a men's and a women's room, so this is conforming to the letter of the law.

The teachers' bathrooms on my floor are of this sort, but we use the adjacent sex's bathrooom all the time when our own is occupied, and no one thinks twice about this.

At 6/18/2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Rebecca M", I simply stated a realistic position. Why must you level a thinly veiled personal attack. If you state we are *discussing* then I wonder where your comments to what I wrote are. I am ever so eager to see them.

At 6/18/2007 , Anonymous rebecca m said...

your first point, that a lot of people will simply be uncomfortable, was a fair point, and a contribution to the discussion, so there was nothing to add there.

your second-- telling people they should be ashamed for even suggesting the idea, was off the wall.

At 6/18/2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So you say I have a good point. Where is your actual comment? I grow weary of this when all you are capable of it personal attacks.

At 6/19/2007 , Blogger BZ said...

How can someone make a "personal" attack on an anonymous comment?

At 6/20/2007 , Blogger yitz.. said...

how do you know it's even the same anonymous.. maybe the second anonymous is a highly senstitive third party to the original conversation???

but on to the actual point: the collective unconscious says that the turnaround time in the guy's bathroom is much faster than in the women's. So it would be a pain for the guys if they had to wait for the women.. following this logic, there should be some optimal stall ratio in men's & women's bathrooms that would bring this back to equillibrium and engender (pun intended) equal rights for female bathroom users without impinging on male bathroom users' own rights. :)

(I used to think men were messier in the bathroom but i've since had years of experience which have helped me to unlearn this false presumption)

At 6/21/2007 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

XX are *MUCH* messier in the bathroom. Ever look at a shower when they are done in it? Long hair ALL OVER! Yet they will scream and complain if we leave the seat up. Double standard!!!!!

At 6/21/2007 , Blogger BZ said...

Hey now, let's not stereotype. Some of us leave long hair all over the shower AND leave the seat up.

At 6/28/2007 , Blogger Jon said...

Hi Everybody,
Interesting note: As of October 2006 DC law requires that single-stall restrooms must be marked as gender-neutral. There isn't much enforcement happening, but in theory the law agrees w/ ZT. The reasoning here is to give transgendered bladder-owners safe spaces to empty them. Maybe we should all mention the law to owners / managers when we see single-stall restrooms designated male / female...


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