Patterico's Pontifications


The New Discrimination: Women’s Public Restrooms

Filed under: General — Dana @ 2:35 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In case you forget during the outrage of the Paris massacre that there other pressing matters of outrage that must be addressed, let me assure you, there are. Things such as potty discrimination. Surely one of the uglier forms of discrimination that must be flushed immediately.

Feminist writer, media critic and activist Soraya Chemaly, whose areas of expertise include “Gender Violence and Women’s Equity, Sexual Assault, Women in Media, Rape, Gender-based Violence, Media Portrayal, Women in the Military, Gender Equality Issues, Free Speech, Gender Politics, Business and the Economy, Education, Media and Entertainment, Politics, Religion Social Justice”, is on a roll about the unfairness of women’s public restrooms. And you know whose fault that is? You’ve got it: men’s. In what suspiciously sounds like a bad case of penis envy, Chemaly is upset that all public restrooms are not equal-opportunity facilities:

“[W]omen 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.

She explains why public restrooms are sexist:

Women need to use bathrooms more often and for longer periods of time because: we sit to urinate (urinals effectively double the space in men’s rooms), we menstruate, we are responsible for reproducing the species (which makes us pee more), we continue to have greater responsibility for children (who have to use bathrooms with us), and we breastfeed (frequently in grotty bathroom stalls). Additionally, women tend to wear more binding and cumbersome clothes, whereas men’s clothing provides significantly speedier access. 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.

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.

So unfair! Why do our bodies have to be burdened with the ability to carry a new life, to nurse, to menstruate. If only we had a penis!

Look, Ms. Chemalya, we’re waiting in line because women take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to use a restroom. It’s not just a zip-in, zip-out experience. It’s a use the facility, wash your hands, do your makeup, fix your hair, gab with your friend who went to the restroom with you social event. Of course there is a line!

Note: Chemalya ignores that middle-aged men and older face their own biological difficulties which can cause lines at public restrooms for men as well.


86 Responses to “The New Discrimination: Women’s Public Restrooms”

  1. Hello.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  2. We should just outlaw men.

    Gazzer (c44509)

  3. It would appear that’s the goal.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  4. I’ll turn myself in then.

    Gazzer (c44509)

  5. She might have been happier as a pioneer woman in a covered wagon. There were no restrooms or lines or empty toilet paper rolls out there on the open prairie to infuriate ladies. Why oh why was she born too late and at a time when she has to endure indoor plumbing and tampax dispensers!

    I can offer her a tip, though. If she is ever in my city, the ladies johns at White Sox Park are much bigger and better located and nicer than the ones at Wrigley. You’re welcome, Soraya.

    elissa (429c60)

  6. I’ll sympathize when the women start leaving the seat up as a matter of habit after taking care of “their bidness”.

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  7. Soraya you should always go before you leave, especially if you plan on taking public transportation

    and wash your hands if you go anywhere grotty

    i will pray for you

    yours is a hard road

    happyfeet (a037ad)

  8. “responsible for reproducing the species”… now there’s a fair maiden after my own heart!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  9. time tested and true
    ya gotta pootie poo-poo
    but sit don’t stand up

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  10. Obviously, the genetic makeup which cause female bathroom problems also are responsible for a shocking level of vacuity in some authors.

    David Longfellow (c241d2)

  11. I for one think it is a reasonable request for architects and those who hire them consider the apparent differing needs. AFAIK, maybe they already do to some degree.
    But it is not something I can see getting a faculty appointment for championing, or one’s underwear all in a bunch over.

    Maybe the next thing we should argue for is a designation of urinals by age range, or at least the over 50 and under 50 set. Us old guys stand there while two or three whippersnappers come and go. Maybe they will want their own urinals like express lanes at a grocery. “No one over 40 yo or PVR (Post Void Residual) > 30 cc”

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  12. I agree with MD. Just build the darn restrooms. It’s not worth the nagging.

    nk (dbc370)

  13. Hurry up and build them, I gotta go…

    mg (31009b)

  14. Maybe they should provide troughs for wimmin to squat over in stadiums like they do in many mens restrooms. Equality!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  15. The cleverest answer to this problem that I’ve seen has got to be the system used at the national air and space museum.

    The national air and space museum has two banks of bathrooms on each floor. Each bank has *two* restrooms.

    In one bank, both restrooms are marked for women. In the other bank, one is for men, one is for women.

    This seems to prevent there from being lines, and psychologically seems to prevent people from getting upset – men who go to the wrong bank just go to the other bank and don’t notice that they only have 1/3 as many bathrooms. 🙂

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  16. == Just build the darn restrooms. It’s not worth the nagging.==

    I don’t mean to disparage your knowledge of feminist psychology, nk, but I am almost certain that building moar bathrooms is not going to stop her kind from nagging.

    elissa (429c60)


    malclave (4f3ec1)

  18. it just NEVER stops….

    Harcourt Fenton Mudd (5e0a82)

  19. As I explained to a coworker once, this explains why they always go to the restroom in pairs. They can’t shake it, so they have to bounce each other off the toilets.

    JCLjockey (74aed5)

  20. My knowledge of feminist psychology is a sub-component of my knowledge of female psychology generally, elissa. Which is zero. And it’s very nice of you ladies not to laugh openly at guys who claim to have more than that.

    nk (dbc370)

  21. Transgendered individuals have another decision to make.

    mg (31009b)

  22. Eye rolling is the more gracious way to go. Nagging isn’t the only thing this gender excels at…

    Dana (8e74ce)

  23. 14. They have those in a number of places in Europe. The euphemism is Turkish toilet.

    Off topic.
    Someone has found an excellent job for Romney.

    kishnevi (4e0188)

  24. I have the greatest suggestion for feminists… and women who
    believe they are unfairly treated by men or society.

    should just give these women/feminists a full frontal
    lobotomy. It would be a dramatic improvement. they won’t have
    the cognative function to complain or notice any injustice.

    should help a ton. 😀

    YourMaster (c7e392)

  25. I d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy!

    Gazzer (c44509)

  26. everybody
    say ain’t he funny why that’s
    Monty Clift, honey

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  27. Don’t modern architects and designers anticipate, and make capacity-related accommodations for, the different usages to which men’s and women’s restrooms are often put?

    Beldar (fa637a)

  28. Yes, yes they do, Beldar. And businesses which know their business make sure it gets done. And other things too. When I worked in a gas station, the ladies room was the heated one with the indoor entrance inside the building, and always cleaned daily and stocked with paper, soap and towels. But like elissa said ….

    nk (dbc370)

  29. “Bill Gates’ New Machine Turns Human Waste Into Drinkable Water”? the brew that made Seattle famous…Sons of Pioneers “Cool, Clear, CaCa”

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  30. My parents had a cartoon from World War II in their basement party room that showed a new woman WAC standing at a urinal next to a man who is looking bug eyed at her. The message was, once we have WACs anything could happen.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  31. the less time women spend waiting to pee the more time they’ll have to wait in the line where you get the beer and dogs

    happyfeet (831175)

  32. The women that actually led the charge for equal rights would/should be disgusted at what their modern brethren have become.

    JD (86a5eb)

  33. There are serious marketing possibilities in good public restrooms, at least in Texas.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  34. Why not use an FUD (Feminine Urination Device). Ladies, you too can pee anytime, anywhere. An FUD is discreet, hygienic and can easily be tucked into a woman’s purse. Here’s one called Go Girl.

    Terrie VanB (011fb1)

  35. 33
    We have those En Motion things at work. Half the time they jam up and we have to find a loose roll of towels.

    kishnevi (294553)

  36. Heh. Comes in pink or camo.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  37. …the Go Girl at 34.

    Dana (8e74ce)

  38. “Men need to build me more places to peepee.”

    – liberal feminist

    jcurtis (bbc2bb)

  39. Terrie– speaking of feminists–remember Lisa Nowak, the diaper wearing NASA astronaut caught up in a love triangle? After the arrest for pepper spraying her rival following a non-stop cross-country drive, Lisa had to wear a tracking device instead of her diaper.

    elissa (429c60)

  40. Part of the problem is designing for ‘average’ rather than ‘surge’ demand. For one example: I work at a west coast concert venue, capacity about 12,000.

    Estimating from memory, the restroom facilities can accommodate about 80 men simultaneously, and 60 women. Stalls just take up more space than urinals.

    That might be OK for a 3-hour event with ‘continuous’ use. But in the 15 minutes between acts, or hockey game periods, or football halftime, lines are inevitable.

    But who can afford to design for ‘surge’ numbers of, say, 200 women at at time in my venue? That would take up around 3x the space. 3-story potties, anyone?

    Suppose any women’s visit could be accomplished in 3 minutes (just picking a number.)

    Suppose there is a 15 minute break.

    Suppose there are 5,000 women who need the facilities during the break.

    There are 5, 3-minute ‘shifts’ in a 15 minute break.

    For NO lines, or minimal lines, there would need to be 1,000 toilets available.

    I don’t think the economics of public venues can support that much investment in toilet facilities.

    Which suggests that lines for women’s bathrooms are not, really, a nefarious plot.

    JohnS (edc933)

  41. The great thing about being a man is that the world is our urinal. We don’t really need dedicated facilities. Let’s face it, we can pee anywhere my dog can and some places he can’t. For the life of me I don’t understand why they put urinals in men’s restrooms when they already have sinks that none of us ever use.

    These prissy feminists may be unhappy with the status quo, but I imagine they’ll be even more unhappy with the alternative.

    ThOR (a52560)

  42. But in the 15 minutes between acts, or hockey game periods, or football halftime, lines are inevitable.

    I wonder what the average ratio of men to women at sporting events?

    Dana (8e74ce)

  43. ratios are deeply, inherently patriarchal

    happyfeet (831175)

  44. Dana, not sure, but all the sporting events I have ever been to included long lines to use the men’s facilities, even though the sinks were drafted into service.
    All that beer has to go somewhere.

    kishnevi (294553)

  45. Pretty sure that Soraya has no idea about any male biology.

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  46. elissa – The lads are preparing for their winter tent camping outing in a couple of weeks, a subject we have discussed before. It’s just not much fun leaving the sleeping bags and tents for the nearest biffy or tree when it’s 0 outside so we teach them other ways to be prepared.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  47. I only hope that when the Kouachis turn up in Muslim Paradise, they get 72 virgins like Soraya

    Kevin M (25bbee)

  48. Of course someone has written on the topic. It’s the Internet.
    Short answer: it varies not only among sports but between teams in the same league, but the highest percentage of women among total attendees is not all that large, about 33%.
    Long answer:

    kishnevi (294553)

  49. Dana– I choose camo. Pink is a bit flashy for me.

    elissa– I do remember that story. However misguided, one must admire the tenacity it took for the good astronaut to keep going and going and going… (Extremely lame pun intended.)

    Terrie VanB (011fb1)

  50. It’s always good for people to have options, daleyrocks.

    elissa (429c60)

  51. Fifty-eight going on fifty-nine, married for 20 years, and it was you Terrie who answered a question I’ve always wondered about: How do women give urine specimens without making a great big mess.

    nk (dbc370)

  52. You go girl!

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  53. biffy?

    nobody tells me anything but for sure i know that word is not in my pocket noob mid-westerner handbook

    happyfeet (831175)

  54. By education I am an industrial engineer. Among my required classes were courses in human factors. Had anybody done research to determine why women use more time in restrooms? You know, observation, note taking, and stopwatches followed by statistically rigorous analysis. If science knows the major reason why women take more time, then maybe, just maybe, somebody might propose solutions.

    LTMG (94c4c3)

  55. The first thing you learn in med school: anatomy is destiny.

    Gordon Pasha (69d19f)

  56. “It’s always good for people to have options, daleyrocks.”

    elissa – Exactly. Teh wimmins don’t seem as comfortable wif those winter tent camping options.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  57. Girls got go girl and teh guys got brief relief

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  58. Most years for the last decade I’ve gone to a music festival in the desert. It draws a crowd of 90K people.

    When I started going, the porta potties were not gendered, and everyone stood in long lines together.

    A few years ago they broke all the porta potties into two segments, a male segment and a female segment. Each segment has the same number of porta potties – more men attend overall, but women take longer, so this should sorta balance out, right?

    I haven’t stood in a a line to use a porta pottie in the festival venue since then.

    aphrael (a4a0eb)

  59. So, it’s “men’s” fault that women take longer to use the toilet, even though “we [women] are responsible for reproducing the species.”
    Can’t have it both ways.

    Tom (abb065)

  60. “Just build the darn restrooms. It’s not worth the nagging.”
    Appeesment rarely works in the long run.

    Tom (abb065)

  61. But….but…’s all about MEEEEEEE!
    …even when it isn’t…

    askeptic (efcf22)

  62. Tom (abb065) — 1/10/2015 @ 7:39 am

    If they stop reproducing, will that “teach us a lesson”?

    askeptic (efcf22)

  63. In the infield at Churchill Downs on Derby Day, many young ladies availed themselves of the men’s restroom facilities to avoid the huge lines. There is a chance that alcohol was involved.

    The Dana from Kentucky (1b79fa)

  64. Sorry, my appendaged-friend, the lines for women’s rooms are not longer because women gab more, etc. It really does take us appreciably longer to pee and exit the stall, and that’s even if you aren’t caring for kids. Any other activities such as chatting or makeup don’t make the lines longer—they are lines for the stalls, not for the sinks and mirrors. Having said that, this is a pretty well-worn feminist argument, so I don’t know why this woman is bringing it up again. I don’t know the answer, either. It really sucks to have to wait in long lines and miss the game or concert, and the only way to help that is to have plenty of toilet stalls. Bathroom attendants can really help move things along, too.

    RigelDog (b70d0f)

  65. Dana, I have known it to happen in other places. The important factor was not the liquids imbibed, but the fact that no men were using it at the time.

    kishnevi (a5d1b9)


    just pee before you go and then DO NOT drink like lena dunham did back in the day when she was frightfully prone to getting raped by various and sundry

    you’ll be fine i promise

    but if you go anywheres grotty take a wee lil small travel bottle of purell

    i know it’s hard but if you have any questions call my cell… you can call me for advice anywhere in the process

    unless i’m asleep

    happyfeet (831175)

  67. kishnevi, believe me, at the Derby, there were plenty of men in line! After a certain point, the women didn’t care!

    Y’all just see the ladies dressed to the nines, including the obligatory ladies’ hats, but he cameras don’t give you a shot of the infield, since at any point they might come up with a picture Not Safe For Television. Plenty of booze and plenty of partying. The biggest problem is that you can’t see the actual races; if you are lucky, yo might see a flash of brown and chestnut whiz by.

    The Dana who's been to the Derby (1b79fa)

  68. needing to go into overtime twice in a week,
    they look beatable…
    they’re giving my dad too much stress.

    MD in Philly (f9371b)

  69. A general rule of thumb I think I heard is that you need 2 women’s bathrooms for every men’s bathroom.

    But that too often they make equal numbers or less.

    Which is all right if the bathrooms aren’t being used much.

    Sammy Finkelman (6b5229)

  70. RigelDog (b70d0f) — 1/10/2015 @ 4:10 pm

    I don’t know the answer, either.

    The answer is:

    Don’t build an equal number of men’s and women’s bathrooms – build more women’s bathrooms than men’s.

    Or build many more of both than you will ever need.

    Sammy Finkelman (6b5229)

  71. I have a solution for this vexing problem. If I need to use the facilities, and the line up is overly long to use the Womens’, I breeze into the Mens’, loudly exclaiming “Woman here!” and I go directly to the toilets – without looking elsewhere, without making eye contact. I’ve done this even in Latin American countries and have never been called on it. The men usually find it quite amusing. I always wash my hands in the Ladies’ though, because, luckily, you don’t have to wait in line to use the sink there.

    Lynne W (105e42)

  72. still Lynne I hate it that you have to do that

    even in Latin American countries

    i hope and pray to God someday women pee with the eagles

    but until then we will soldier on

    you especially

    not me so much

    happyfeet (831175)

  73. @Lynne,

    At my venue, it is part of my job, when posted nearby, to prevent such ‘breezing’, and the venue staff will throw you out for violating house rules. We – male and female employees in that job – don’t allow men into the women’s bathrooms, either.

    Sorry. Can’t say I enjoy that. But I don’t get that posting often.

    JohnS (edc933)

  74. Dear Diary: Heather told me she teaches people “real life.” She said, real life sucks losers dry. You wannna pee with the eagles, you have to learn to fly. I said, so, you teach people how to spread their wings and pee? She said, yes. I said, you’re beautiful.

    happyfeet (831175)

  75. if you are lucky, yo might see a flash of brown and chestnut whiz by.

    during the race Dana, or otherwise?


    redc1c4 (b340a6)

  76. if you take the mirrors out of the women’s room, that will help a bit…

    of course, if you line the toilets up side by side, W/O stalls, like we had in our WW2 barracks at Ft Benning when i was there, you can pack moar seats in the same space too.

    just a thought. 😉

    redc1c4 (b340a6)

  77. R.I.P. Rod Taylor, star of “The Time Machine” and Hitchcock’s “The Birds”

    Icy (82c6f1)

  78. yeah well it’s not like rod was gonna live forever

    happyfeet (831175)

  79. we’re so lucky to have had him as long as we did

    happyfeet (831175)

  80. asking for more rod taylor would just be greedy

    happyfeet (831175)

  81. We could all use a little bit more Rod Taylor, Mr. Feets.

    Icy (82c6f1)

  82. Always liked Rod Taylor.

    Saw him in a couple movies in the last week. Time Machine and Sunday In New York.

    Mark Johnson (614e1b)

  83. First world problems. I have gripes about building design but it’s not a plot against our gender. It’s just that people have a tendency to design things that they won’t be the ones using. It’s vision versus usage. If you’re the one actually going to use the thing that you design, you’ll be better at it.

    I’ve long mentioned that modern home designs are…well frankly not stupid, but not well done. Yep, at times I’ve blamed men, but more in a joking way, not accusatory. Only a man who doesn’t do laundry will put the laundry hookup in the basement. Or put hardwood flooring in front of doors that lead to the outside. Or have a huge kitchen with a handful of cabinets. Or have teeny tiny storage/closets and big rooms with windows placed where you can’t put storage furniture. Ad nauseum.

    Is it a plot? Nope. It’s just that the person designing the thing is probably not going to be the person responsible for the ultimate upkeep. Same goes for bathrooms. Stalls take more room, so make the female bathrooms bigger in a venue. And for those responsible for upkeep, keep the soap and tower dispensers filled and the faucets in good repair. Because sometimes we’re not only waiting for the toilet, we’re waiting to wash hands.

    All of that being said, on the list of world problems, bathroom access should be the least of our concerns.

    JR (4fa154)

  84. “Woman blames men for women’s line at the bathroom, instead of the women actually making her wait longer in line.”

    SGT Ted (eed28b)

  85. Those different toilet queuing times tempt me to think there just might be some fundamental differences between men and women. I put those foolish thoughts aside, knowing full well that feminists have taught us that’s just not the case.

    ToursLepantoVienna (42108b)

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