Sometimes it feels that in our race to be all embracing of everything that we somehow slide backwards or simply create issues to argue over. These topics always strike me as avoidance tactics, distractions to keep us from serious problems like our growing heroin epidemic, unemployment, texting while driving and suicide. You know, issues that impact quality of life in our communities, stuff that kills people. So rather than address these real topics, people divide themselves with pretend problems and fictional scenarios. Currently the hot divisive topic is if people can/should/are legally required to use the bathroom corresponding with their birth genitalia. Talk about privilege, we void our bowels and bladders into drinking quality water which is whisked away through a complex maze of pipes. Water that 75% of the world population would feel lucky to have access to and we want to concern ourselves with who is on the other side of the partition while we do it?
If it is not possible to require identification to vote, how can we require it to access public restrooms? Children don’t even have ID’s. As the “controversy” over bathroom access has been in the news as of late I find myself perplexed by several things. I wonder if people are naive enough to think that while living in a major metropolitan area that they have never washed their hands beside a person who was not born with the same physical attributes that they were. I have heard the claims that these concerns are for my benefit as a woman and to tug at the heart strings of those not aligned with the outrage, we are instructed that it is for the good of “the children”. We will be raped, molested and video taped if people are allowed to go in the bathroom where they feel most comfortable. Really? Even if that were true, we have many laws in place already to deal with deviant behavior. I’m not buying the memes of hairy men in women’s bikini’s who apparently are just waiting for the opportunity to hang out in public restrooms to harass and terrify the defenseless. Why are men in particular getting the bad rap that they will suddenly be tempted to wear makeup and women’s clothing to gain access? While there have always been voyeurs, there certainly is no greater number based upon access to the women’s room. Ironically it appears they might just end up with cell phone pics of other dudes, which they could have had back in their original bathroom. I understand that there actually are evil people in the world but a child is no more vulnerable in the presence of the opposite sex than they are with the same sex. In reality they are more likely to be victimized by people in their lives who are described as “trusted individuals” not strangers in the public bathroom. For those super concerned, might I suggest no doors on the home bathroom.
It makes sense to me to consider that new construction provide for sinks in common areas, stalls for all and perhaps a partial wall separating urinals at the far end of public facilities (making it unnecessary for those not needing those accommodations to be near them). It’s more efficient. Think of the lines at sporting events and theater intermissions in our current construct. Would it not be fairer to have whoever is next in line be permitted to “go” next? For me it makes more sense instead of stalls being vacant in one restroom and a line down the hallway out of the other one. It would be more like porta-potty access at the Fair or other outdoor festivals.
Over the past few weeks I have told several people that I have never been carded by the Potty Patrol when either entering or exiting a washroom. Not when in a dress or while wearing jeans and a baseball cap, it just has never occurred. I am also confident that nobody is going to be hired to enforce any sort of policy regarding who goes (literally and figuratively) where. Why make laws and rules that will not be enforced, when people can figure out where to go (and honestly, have been for years) on their own?
Trust me when I say that no man should be interested in hanging out in the Lady’s Room. If I were going to tackle a public restroom issue I have about five ideas I’d go with prior to suggesting a pants check and subsequent questionnaire regarding if the equipment present in the Fruit of the Looms is original issue or not. I’d start with the nasty habit of the “squat and spray” crowd who fail to wipe off the toilet seat they have just fire hosed. I’d follow up with mandatory flushing and mandate that trash goes in the trash. I often find myself wondering what the homes are like of the people who used the facilities before me. Do people pee on their toilet seats at home and leave mystery wads of TP on the back of the toilet?
Bathroom usage is an imperfect art. Plumbing is a luxury that we have that prevents the spread of many diseases, it keeps us from digging trenches, typically allows us to remain inside and in the US generally they are a free accommodation provided to us in public places. I’ve just highlighted numerous reasons we should be thankful and yet people want to quibble over this. It’s another topic where people not dealing with this challenge want to dictate the behavior expectations to a population they are not a part of. My honest opinion of the stranger in the next stall is simply that I’m not concerned about your gender status.
If you really need a cause to get behind or a topic for the water cooler, perhaps folks would be willing to take on cell phone use in the bathroom. Don’t answer your phone while in the restroom and don’t initiate a call while in a stall. It’s just awkward while trying to use the restroom to hear “Hi, how are you?” from the stranger beside you. One thing I hope we can all agree on, no matter which room you choose, the visit should end with washing your hands!