We need to mind our pees and queues for women

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Link to original article in Irish Independent here

In an unusual twist, I was reading an article in the ‘Guardian’ the other day, and couldn’t help but agree with it.

Lezlie Lowe, author of ‘No Place To Go: How Public Toilets Fail our Private Needs’, wrote a piece stating that females were at a massive disadvantage urinally compared to those pesky men who get everything.

What else must we endure in these empowered times of equality? “The queue for women’s toilets is a feminist issue,” she wrote.

Isn’t everything? She recalled an awkward toilet moment involving none other than Hillary Clinton, who was caught short, mid-commercial break, during a Democratic debate in 2015.

Clinton, the solitary female on stage, had to walk a little further to get to the women’s loo than her male opponents, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.

The toilet was occupied, and she lost to Donald Trump – no, sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself here. She had to wait and the live televised debate resumed without her. We’ve all been there.

A few moments later, she strolled back on the stage, took to her podium, saying a simple “Sorry” to the 6.7 million viewers who had tuned in. The ‘Boston Globe’ reported O’Malley’s deputy campaign manager, Lis Smith, got into the loo first in an act of possible political sabotage.

“But let’s face it: it feels like sabotage when women have to wait in loo queues and men do not. When the simplest of biological functions is made more difficult, and public spaces that much harder to navigate, all because you are a woman,” Lowe added.

This is generally the bit where I lose interest in grievance feminist BS.

But perhaps she has a point. I wouldn’t write a book called ‘Toilets and I. My life between the seats’ but, generally speaking, we need more toilets than men in most circumstances.

When I used to go to Electric Picnic, for example, I’d use the loos in the VIP area because they were slightly more palatable than those in the main area – but only sometimes.

When things got busy, the queue for the female trailer containing four or five cubicles was massive. The men also had one trailer, but there was never a queue because biology allowed men to relieve themselves in a field whenever they wanted.

Needless to say, I happily used the men’s loos, but it could all be different. They could have had two trailers for females.

Ever since separate toilets were used at a Parisian ball in 1739, and hit the US in the late 1800s to accommodate female employees, separate bathrooms have become the norm. But they weren’t always equal.

Back home, there is no legislation. I found out from Keith Martin of Dublin-based Doyle Interiors, who make cubicles for indoor spaces, that women are at an unfair disadvantage.

“I think there should be more toilets for women. In most cases, men get two cubicles and two urinals and women get three cubicles. But it’s a space issue, and not an inequality issue,” he says.

“There’s definite disparity there. When I was at the Rolling Stones concert in Croke Park, the women were queuing in the men’s toilets, such was the demand.”

I laughed when he told me this, as I was there myself – queuing.

So what can be done? “Well, there’s no actual standard in Ireland. There’s nothing in law so I think there has to be legislation, ensuring that facilities are equal and equally represent the staff or people using them.”

But what about genderless toilets? Why is the discussion about female toilets when gender is just social construct and everyone is aboard the genderless train? Judging by Lowe’s argument, there is a difference and it is clearly rooted in biology.

But what about non-binary people? They can use ours. No one cares anyway. There’s nothing wrong with some a la carte equality.

Not only do we want equal toilets, we’d like them to be rose-scented too.

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