By: Carolina Watlington
It’s the same story that we know all too well. You’re at a busy restaurant, sports game or concert, and the line to use the women’s restroom is all of the way out the door, meanwhile men are walking in and out of the men’s restroom in just minutes. Women are forced to either have to bear the line or skip using the restroom altogether, risking potential health risks or an emergency.
Many assume that the lines are just due to more women having to use the restroom, but the issue is bigger than it appears, and experts trace its roots to micro gender discrimination by favoring men’s anatomy and needs.
The line disparity comes down to women’s biological needs to go to the bathroom more frequently (if they have had children or are pregnant) and take longer while in there. Urinals take up half of the space of a stall, effectively doubling the space in a men’s restroom. Women on the other hand, have to open the stall door, shut it, lock it, remove any unnecessary clothing instead of just unzipping, and then undo everything after the fact –– and this is just the bare minimum assuming they are not pregnant, on their menstrual cycle, breastfeeding, or have children with them.
A men’s restroom can have an equal number of toilets as a women’s restroom, but at the end of the day men and women have different needs and women’s restrooms often don’t cater to that.
Considering that most developers won’t resolve this issue on their own, the solution to this is known as Potty Parity, a movement pushing for education and legislation reform on remedying provisional public restroom facilities.
According to the American Restroom Association, the most common call for action has been to double the amount of toilets in women’s restrooms compared to men’s.
While providing more stalls for women would definitely help the issue, actualizing this goal is a long way away. For now, the most effective action is spreading awareness and acknowledging the issue.