Bill: More Toilets for Women, Pretty Pees

Cynthia Dermody
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public restroom sign
Flickr photo by bobbymond
The last time I was at a Broadway show, I was this close ... [imagine forefinger and thumb pinching together] ... this close to using the men's restroom. If you've ever been to a performance or play with an intermission, you know that moment of desperation all too well.

No matter how quickly you jump from your seat and bolt into the foyer when the curtain falls, the line for the women's room is already out the door. It snakes around the concession stand where they try to sell you T-shirts, and into the middle of the foyer, where the line loses shape and people try to play stupid and cut in front of you. I never let them ... unless they are with a small child. Then I do, because no one wants pee-pee on the rug. But I also don't want to miss the second act, which is what the usher in the blue suit always threatens when it's five minutes to curtain and you're not even halfway there yet.

Congress is actually considering a law to remedy this called the Potty Parity Act. Not in private places like Broadway or Target, but in federal buildings where the "show" is a hearing or important meeting attended by female Congresswoman who need to pee as badly as the rest of us.

The bill argues that women need a higher percentage of public toilets than men do to eliminate long wait times, which could lead to health problems in women like infections. Such a federal bill would likely trickle down and be incorporated into the building codes of local government and the public sector.

Some bloggers have been discussing whether this is really a good use of Congress's time with all the other things they have to do, like oh, preventing the collapse of the world's economy, for instance.

Others, like Kathryn H. Anthony, an architecture professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, told the Washington Post that being forced to wait in line for restrooms is a form of gender bias. Having too few female facilities reflects male dominance. She said many federal buildings were designed and built by men apparently indifferent to the additional needs of women.

We know what those needs are:

  • We get pregnant and have to pee like a hundred times a day.
  • We are often the ones who have to bring our small children to the stalls, doubling the amount of time in there.
  • We have double the steps, all of which take time: unbutton, drop, sit, pee, wipe, pull up, adjust, re-button ... (men: unzip, whip out, pee, zip, go)
  • And at certain times of the month women have even more steps and possible troubleshooting.

Just as I was about to be a pioneer and bolt for the boy's potty, a grandpa with his teenage grandson walked out and I lost my nerve. One commenter on Lemondrop offering a short-term solution feels women should start an Internet movement to commandeer mens' rooms.

"How about a bumper-sticker-type sign that says 'Ladies Room' or 'Temporary Ladies Room' (I'm sure someone can think of something more clever) we can carry in a purse until needed to cover the 'Mens Room' sign?"

How would you rate this bill's importance: high, medium, low or just kill it? Have you ever used the mens room in a public place, or is this just gross?

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