Sometimes throughout my life I thought about how things would change if society would slowly march towards a utopian future, the “In the future” series of posts will reveal some of these thoughts. Because my idea of what a proper future could look like may differ from yours, do fell free to leave it in the comments section.
Chapter 1 – Public Bathrooms
Lately the topic of unisex public bathrooms has been popping up in the media and I remembered that when I was a teenager I’ve questioned myself about this subject, those thoughts still hold true today.
To me, gendered public bathrooms made no sense in a variety of ways, those were:
More expensive – At least an extra wall needs to be built and tiled/painted in order to separate both bathrooms and it will take up extra space. A proper public bathroom needs to be scaled to the average expected necessities of people with some tolerance for peaks, smaller bathrooms have proportionally larger peaks, therefore, a gendered bathroom (2 small bathrooms) should have a bigger tolerance than a unisex one thus taking up even more space. Bigger bathrooms will have more repetition, as in, more consecutive stalls and taps, along with bigger contiguous flat surfaces, which makes the work of the janitor more “production line” and thus more time-efficient. It’s easy to imagine that, for example, in a shopping mall, a better usage of space will lead to more shops, and more efficient maintenance will lead to less janitors, both of which will lead to more profit, this coupled with less costs during the building process will lead to faster return-on-investment, even if marginally.
Anatomically unjustifiable – All humans excrete waste products from roughly the same location, that’s why male and female bathrooms have no fundamental differences and serve the same purpose. Male bathrooms might have urinals (that will, in theory, save space) and typically do, but, it’s no secret that urinals entail a lack of privacy and that the “gap urinal” isn’t a myth precisely due to that, some guys don’t even use them anymore or won’t use them if they can’t have a “gap urinal” and prefer to urinate while standing in a bathroom stall.
This was so obvious to me that I couldn’t believe that other people hadn’t thought of this before, so, I assumed that there would be sensible explanations for this phenomena given that the only bathrooms that are not unisex are those outside of people’s homes, which led me to think about stranger danger.
Especially rapists would have more naturally presenting windows of opportunity for their criminal actions. Considering that sometimes there’s not a lot of people, that nobody would find it suspicious to see a male going into the unisex bathroom and that males can more easily physically overpower females than the contrary, it’s quite possible that male criminals would give higher preference to unisex bathrooms as “hunting grounds” than they do to gendered bathrooms, among other possible problems. Some recent experiments with unisex bathrooms already failed due to voyeurism.
But what about transgender rights? Some might ask. I admit that I haven’t thought about that problem when I first “internally debated” this issue. From the articles and testimonies that I’ve read the problem seems to boil down to not being considered manly or womanly enough to be in a gendered bathroom and having laws that dictate gendered bathroom usage on the basis of assigned gender rather than gender identity. To me, the most practical immediate solution seems to be making the male bathrooms trans-friendly because it doesn’t entail any costs, keeps things almost the same for non-transgender users (99.7% of them) and makes life easier for transgenders. Making the female bathrooms trans-friendly wouldn’t work so well considering that the vast majority of sexual predators are male and that it would be trivial for them to get into female bathrooms by claiming that they’re transgenders.
My opinion is that in an ideal world where crime is almost non-existent and pretty much everyone knows how to get along with each other, all bathrooms are unisex, they’re prepared for disabled people, kids, and people with babies, also, because of privacy, showers and urinals (if urinals exist by then) reside in their own appropriately sized stalls.