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    • I saw an article from a few days ago in The Atlantic entitled "The Long Lines for Women’s Bathrooms Could Be Eliminated. Why Haven’t They Been?" which was a fascinating exploration of bathroom design and civic spaces, discussing how since 1987, "dozens of cities and states
      have joined the cause of “potty parity,” the somewhat trivializing nickname for the goal of giving men and women equal access to public toilets. These legislative efforts, along with changes to plumbing codes that altered the ratio of men’s to women’s toilets, have certainly helped imbalances in wait times, but they haven’t come close to resolving them."

      This parity issue is particularly glaring in the context of the theater, when short intermission times and a 67% female audience average ratio at a Broadway show means cartoonishly long lines for just a few stalls built in older theaters. In New York City, the lines at intermission stretch around the theater, even as theater owners adapt existing spaces, locker rooms, and more to create more stalls. According to a London report, "Female theatergoers would need an hourlong intermission if they were all to make it in and out of the bathroom at an average London theater." Many New York and London theaters are even now working on improvements to fix these sub-par experiences for their guests.

      Why the particular disparity in the performance space, as well as restrooms overall? Clara Greed who contributed to the 2010 academic anthology Toilet: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing, stated that "the main concern of the male city fathers was to provide toilets for men, whose role in public space was accepted and indeed regarded as important to the industrial economy...public toilet provision for women was seen as an extra, as a luxury, or as problematic in other respects."

      Additionally, in the United States, until just 40 years ago, public toilets were pay-to-pee. In a piece published by Pacific Standard Mag on the history of CEPTIA (the Committee to End Pay Toilets in America), an activist group that led the fight against pay toilets, "In the early 1900s, when railroads connected America’s biggest cities with rural outposts, train stations were sometimes the only place in town with modern plumbing. To keep locals from freely using the bathrooms, railroad companies installed locks on the stall doors—only to be unlocked by railroad employees for ticketed passengers. Eventually, coin-operated locks were introduced, making the practice both more convenient and more profitable. Pay toilets then sprung up in the nation’s airports, bus stations, and highway rest stops. By 1970, America had over 50,000 pay toilets. By 1980, there were almost none...Because the locks were on stall doors—and not on the outside of the bathrooms—men could use urinals for free, while women had to pay to do the same deed."

      Combining architecture, codes, and buildings that worked against building more bathrooms with the pay-to-pee bathroom dynamic, and it's no surprise that in the image below assemblywoman March Fong Eu smashed a porcelain toilet on the steps of the California capitol building back in 1969 to show express frustration with pay toilets in public buildings.

    • It's a shame that we haven't been working on this more in the United States. Now that we're starting to be a little more accepting of differences in sex/gender preferences/associations, hopefully we'll see more gender-neutral bathrooms.

    • Some fascinating additional follow-up from this ESPN article on stadium bathrooms:

      IN 1988, WHILE, of course, waiting in line to use the bathroom, Sandra Rawls, then an assistant professor of interior design, wondered about the power structures and social orders reflected in our public restrooms. Women typically take longer in the bathroom. What Rawls wanted to figure out was exactly how much longer, and why.

      Rawls began collecting data across Virginia on restroom habits at airports, shopping malls and arenas. After interviewing hundreds of subjects, she discovered that women generally required 180 seconds to use the restroom compared to 84 seconds for men. In the past, the discrepancy was either ignored, laughed off or blamed on excessive primping. Instead, Rawls found that they were serious issues, such as clothing restrictions, security, bags, pregnancy, menstruation and the increased frequency (compared to men) of having to accompany small children. Rawls' groundbreaking research exposed the way bathrooms were being used as a form of gender discrimination, especially in sports stadiums.

      Based on Rawls' study, moving forward, bathroom equality -- or Potty Parity, as the cause became known -- would be based on bathroom speed, not space. To achieve it, women demanded twice as many fixtures as men. And in March 1989, the state of Virginia's new building code doubled the number of restrooms for women in museums, libraries
      and stadiums. New York and other states quickly followed suit. "If the facilities are inequitable in a stadium then the message is clear," Anthony says. "(A) you don't belong here; (B) you're a second-class citizen; and (C) we don't really care, this is a man's space."

      The next year, Denise Wells, a 33-year-old legal secretary and law school student, decided to skip the line at a George Strait concert in a Houston arena and slip into the nearly empty men's room. But an off-duty cop grabbed her, issued her a $200 citation for using the wrong
      bathroom and escorted her out of the arena. "I was mortified," Wells says now. "I mean, if my mom had still been alive that would have killed her. But the public reaction to it, it didn't take long to realize there was a cause there that needed, well, exposing."

      After Wells chose to fight the ticket in court and her story ran above the fold in The Houston Post under the headline "All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go," she received support from all over the world. The inequity in stadium bathrooms had struck a chord with female fans. A jury, made up of four women and two men, took 23 minutes to reach the "not guilty" verdict that turned Wells into a folk hero and earned her an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Johnny Carson. A few years later she was invited to the state capitol by Texas Gov. Ann Richards to witness the state's new Potty Parity law she inspired.

    • I really don't see the point of separate restrooms for men and women. Even excluding the fact that some people don't perfectly fit into one of these narrow categories, it's still a really pointless thing to do. I can understand that urinals are made to fit male anatomy, so yes, a restroom that only has urinals can be a restroom "for males only", I get that. But a lot of public/restaurant restrooms don't have urinals at all. In fact the ones for men look exactly the same as the ones for women: stalls with toilets. So what is the point of having two identical rooms and saying that one is only for women and the other only for men?

    • Additional discussion by way of The Guardian:

      "In April 2017, the BBC journalist Samira Ahmed wanted to use a toilet. She was at a screening of the James Baldwin documentary I Am Not Your Negro at London’s Barbican arts centre, and it was the interval. Any woman who has ever been to the theatre knows what that means. This
      evening, the queue was worse than usual. Far worse. Because in an almostcomically blatant display of not having thought about women at all, the Barbican had turned both the male and female toilets gender neutral simply by replacing the “men” and “women” signage with “gender neutral with urinals” and “gender neutral with cubicles”. The obvious happened. Only men were using the supposedly “gender neutral with urinals” and everyone was using the “gender neutral with cubicles”.Rather than rendering the toilets genuinely gender neutral, they had simply increased the provision for men. “Ah the irony of having to explain discrimination having just been to see I Am Not Your Negro IN YOUR CINEMA”,
      Ahmed tweeted, suggesting that turning the gents gender neutral would be sufficient: “There’s NEVER such a queue there & you know it.”

      On the face of it, it may seem fair and equitable to accord male and female public toilets the same amount of space – and historically, this is the way it has been done: 50/50 division of floor space has even been formalised in plumbing codes.However, if a male toilet has both cubicles and urinals, the number of people who can relieve themselves at once is far higher per square
      foot of floor space in the male bathroom than in the female bathroom. Suddenly equal floor space isn’t so equal. But even if male and female toilets had an equal number of stalls, the issue wouldn’t be resolved, because women take up to 2.3 times as long as men to use the toilet. Women make up the majority of the elderly and disabled, two groups that will tend to need more time in the toilet. Women are also more likely to be accompanied by children, as
      well as disabled and older people. Then there’s the 20–25% of women of childbearing age who may be on their period at any one time, and therefore need to change a tampon or a sanitary pad. Women may also require more trips to the bathroom: pregnancy significantly reduces bladder capacity, and women are eight times more likely to suffer from urinary-tract infections. In the face of all these anatomical differences, it would surely take a formal equality
      dogmatist to continue to argue that equal floor space between men and women is fair."

    • Interesting read as well. I understand that urinals are for men, that's not what I'm puzzled by 😛

      The thing is, that even in restrooms with 0 urinals at all, there is still the male/female distinction. Also in small restaurants, there's often a single restroom with two identical stalls: one for women, and one for men. What I often see if a small queue in front of the women's stall (say 1-3 people) while the one for men is empty. I find that pretty stupid and a waste. There's no urinal. The stalls are identical. Why is one "for men" only?

      I also find this part of the text you quoted puzzling: "Women make up the majority of the elderly and disabled." How come? Ok, we know women on average live a little longer than men, but is there such a big difference in population numbers? I've also never heard that most disabled people are women; it actually sounds kind of dubious but perhaps it's true. Never looked into it.