Friday, March 17


FMH is having a discussion about Pedestals & Podiums. I haven't read it, but from what I understand it dicusses at great length the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment. The thing that has always cracked me up is the bathroom argument. Among the top reasons to oppose this constitutional amendment are, forcing the church to give women the priesthood, women being subject to the draft, and.... unisex bathrooms. The bathroom angle seems so mundane, and anticlimactic compared to the other two. Either way, I thought I'd share a experience I had last year for your reading enjoyment.

The university I went to had an area in the music building called the 'practice rooms.' This was a large section of the building filled with small sound insulated rooms where students could practice their instruments whenever they wanted and as loudly as they wanted. The area was often full of litter, and in poor repair. I would often go the practice rooms with my husband so that I could play one of the pianos without getting in anyone's way.

One evening, I had to use the bathroom. I wandered through the halls, but couldn't find them. I asked my husband if there were bathrooms nearby or if I'd have to use the ones downstairs. He said that the bathroom was to my right and around the corner. "They're the blue doors," he said. So I went down the hall, and found a blue door. That's right, just one. I couldn't see a second one, "Must be unisex" I thought. There wasn't a sign on the door, so I poked my head in to make sure it was empty. There were two stalls and a urinal. "That's weird that they'd put a urinal in a unisex bathroom," I thought to myself. The main door didn't lock like most unisex bathrooms. I didn't think too much of it, and went about my business.

A few weeks later we were in the practice rooms again, and this time I knew exactly where the bathroom was. I strode confidently into the bathroom only to find a young man at the urinal. "Oh!" I said, "excuse me." I walked quickly into the stall, thinking again how silly and stupid it is to have a urinal in a unisex bathroom without a lock on the main door. The young man, obviously flustered, left quickly. Afterwards I asked my husband what he thought about the urinal in the unisex bathroom.

"What unisex bathroom?" He asked.
"The one down the hall with the blue door." I answered.
"There isn't a unisex bathroom." He said, starting to look concerned.
"Yes there is," I insisted, "I just used it."
"Show me."

So we marched down the hall to the bathroom door. He then pointed out what the poor lighting had hidden from me. In black permanent marker, on the dark blue door was written "MEN." I could barely make it out, even when I knew it was there. Did they really expect people to be able to see that?

I gasped. "Where's the women's bathroom?" I demanded. He took a few steps to the right, past a decrepit sofa and behind some lockers where a second blue door was adorned with the word "WOMEN."

"No wonder that guy looked so suprised!" I said.
"What guy?" he asked.
"The one using the urinal when I went in here a few minutes ago."
"What did you do?" he asked, looking even more concerned.
"I said 'excuse me' and went to the bathroom." I told my husband matter of factly, starting to giggle a little bit.
He just shook his head.

So, anyways, I don't see all the fuss is over unisex bathrooms, but then again that might be just me. Maybe we ask that guy at the urinal what he thought about it.


Anonymous said...

The unisex bathrooms that we used in France were quite lovely. It didn't really bother me that a guy could be next to me, at least no more than it bothers me when a female stranger is in the stall next to me.

I also used co-ed bathrooms in my college dorms. After I learned that the guys would use my toothbrush if I left it in my cubby (I like _never_ did that again), it didn't bother me one bit. It was sometimes odd to step out of the shower and see a total stranger--a male one--standing at the sinks. But that's what bathrobes are for, eh? 

Posted by pilgrimgirl

Anonymous said...

I remember one summer, fourth of July weekend, at Mission Bay in San Diego. A zillion people, long line at the bathroom. Longer line at the women's bathroom. So here I am, about 5 guys back from having my turn, when an obviously frustrated, bikini-clad woman comes storming in, shoulders her way to the front of the line at the urinal, and says very matter-of-factly, "sorry guys, I simply cannot hold it one more second, the women's line is too damn long, so I'm cutting in". She then proceeds to, right there in front of all of us, drop her bikini bottoms, straddle the urinal (luckily for her it was one of those that had a lip extending out a ways) and relieve herself, to the stunned amazement of all the men in line. With an unapologetic, triumphant smile on her face she left the bathroom, amid cheering and applause from the men, a standing ovation to her moxy...

Posted by Rich

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