Public Washrooms: More Than You Ever Wanted To Know

Public washrooms need a makeover. Badly. I can’t be the only one who thinks this! Yes, what follows is kind of a rant, but it’s one I think some people will understand.

Now, I can only speak of these from a male perspective, but it’s perhaps male bathrooms that provide the biggest endorsement for change. Society has changed. It’s bathrooms have not kept pace.

There’s some pretty obvious problems. We’re more modest, as a culture these days.

Do that many guys really want to stand next to one another and urinate onto a wall?

I gladly take the extra 30 seconds to urinate into a toilet, when it means I can avoid:

1. Weird guys sidling up to you with their equipment in-hand.
2. Having urine spray back or mist down on you or your shoes (and not necessarily your own urine, either).
3. People trying to make awkward smalltalk with you while you are nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with your pants undone.

Then there’s the other thing. I’m pretty sure not everyone is liking the current setup only because it’s a time saver. I think you know what I’m talking about here. And before anyone starts thinking I’m homophobic, I hasten to point out that the very reason washrooms were divided by gender in the first place, was in recognition that it wouldn’t be “appropriate” for (heterosexual) men and women to share a bathroom. This was at a time where “everyone” was (assumed to be) heterosexual. Well, we know that’s not the case anymore, and there’s nothing like a trip to the public restroom to remind you of it, in case you’ve forgotten.

And that leads me to my next issue. Apparently women need to defecate twice as often as men, because men’s washrooms have half the amount of toilets.  Despite what you might think, defecating into a urinal is generally not standard practice…  Of course, that’s an easy mistake to make judging by some of the things you’ll see in one.

More often than not, there will be just a single stall, or 2 in a smaller public restroom. Many times those stalls are not available and when they are there is homosexual graffiti all over the walls inside of them…

There is either a whole lot of homosexual male vandals out there or a small group of them who are so obsessively vulgar they bring a black marker with them every time they leave the house. Now, maybe that’s not fair…  Maybe these people aren’t homosexual…  But, if they were writing about how great Obama is, I’d assume they are Democrats.

This only reaffirms my discomfort with using a urinal. I have a problem with having someone’s sexuality thrust upon me in the most invasive and vulgar ways.  I wonder how many mothers would send their sons into the washroom unsupervised if they saw the type of messages and depictions they’d be subjected to, to say nothing of the pedophiles who see urinals as an invitation for a little show and tell.

I’ve asked a lot of women if there is crude references to homosexual sex and drawings of genitalia all over their washrooms, and strangely none of them have reported that is the case.

Sure, some facilities are better managed than others, but these aren’t isolated issues.

Women’s bathrooms have their problems, too, I am sure… But how many men do you know could get away with walking into one, just because they don’t feel like waiting?

Yes, apparently there are thousands of women out there who think it is perfectly acceptable to walk into a men’s washroom if they don’t have the patience to wait for other women to be finished in theirs.

It’s not less offensive or less inappropriate, in fact, it’s worse, because there is even less privacy. Somehow women have gotten the false impression that no guy would possibly complain about having a woman grace them with her presence while they are urinating. Get over yourselves. And fyi, the bathroom being empty at the time does not mean one of you can go in and then one of you can stand guard outside the door and obstruct people from entering.

My suggestion: Do away with the gender segregation altogether, especially since gender is so nebulous now that it’s become voluntary. Build one bathroom instead of two, and make the stalls within it more private. I think given all the extra “complications” we’re facing with gender and sexuality as a society, we can learn to get along and be mature sharing a washroom, if the stalls within it have a proper level of privacy. I also think rather than feeling less safe, a lot of people would probably be more comfortable, especially parents.

Does anyone have any public restroom horror stories to share, or their own suggestions on how things can be fixed?

Anyone out there who thinks things are fine as they are?

And, for the female readers, what are some of the issues you face?

Note: This is a repost of my article Public Washrooms: More Than You Ever Wanted To Know at Open Salon. You can check there for more comments.