Potty Parity Proposal
January 6, 2004
We’ve all been there. Whether at a major sporting event, a large-venue concert, and even smaller events, the ladies’ room line is longer than the men’s. At Intermission or half-time, half the audience heads for the toilets. The men take a leak as a herd, buy another beer and head back to their seats. The women wait in line. They are lucky to make it back before the performance resumes.
I remember once standing at the urinal at the Pioneer Center in Reno with about 1,000 other guys when they all started hooting and hollering about the “chick” that just ducked into the men’s stall. I turned around just in time to see my wife. She started a trend and the men’s room became coed.
Is potty parity a legal matter to be addressed with more laws? Given the equality among gender laws, can we mandate an unequal number of toilets?
One New York legislator is pushing for restroom relief for women, proposing a bill requiring two women’s stalls for every men’s – in arenas, auditoriums, drinking places, theaters and stadiums. Apparently other states have statutes encouraging additional public facilities for women.
One of the leaders in the move for restroom equity is a Professor John Banzhaf III, of the George Washington University Law School.
The articles on this topic make perfectly clear the problem arises because women are different (duh) and because two urinals can be put in the space of one toilet stall, resulting in more opportunities for men. But the goal should be equality of results, not equal space. At least according to Professor Banzhaf. Check out his Web page at http://banzhaf.net/docs/potty_parity.html.
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Apparently, this matter has been studied over and over, no doubt in response to the age-old question of men to their woman, “What took you so long in there?” I’ve probably asked that a hundred times – or more. I’ve read complete works of fiction waiting outside the women’s room.
One study conducted by a Professor Savannah Day found that women frequently spend twice as long as men in the restroom. Professor Day’s study attributes women taking longer in part to having more clothes to manipulate, having children with them, or taking the time to comb their hair, adjust their make-up, smoke or just talk. I’m not qualified to challenge Professor Day’s study, but I would think it has more to do with the basics. It’s the plumbing, professor.
Some experts in this field have proposed urinettes for women – like urinals -placed on open banks along the wall, of which men are quite familiar. Urinettes have apparently not proved to be popular. But I won’t go there. I wonder if they are used in France? In France you will find stand-up urinals for men that look like phone booths on legs – on French sidewalks. I always got a little nervous knowing I was doing business in partial view on a crowded sidewalk. Couldn’t always perform.
It seems to me it would be an easy thing to add a few bathrooms for the ladies – at least in large-venue facilities where everyone knows the women will be standing in line and the men won’t. If that takes a change in the Uniform Plumbing Code (his and hers), so be it, but it should be done voluntarily by facility owners because it is good for business and fair.
Besides, I hate it when my wife is in the stall next to me.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter-Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno. He is a mediator and was the Governor’s appointee to the Bipartisan McPherson Commission and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. He may be reached at email@example.com or at the firm’s Web site http://www.portersimon.com.