I never thought there was a war on women, but due to recent bathroom trends – and I’m not talking about tile decor or faucet hardware styles – I’m beginning to think women are the victims of not only decades of sexual harassment by the likes of Louis C.K., Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein, but they have become victims in the most unlikely of spaces: public restrooms.
If you don’t get out much, you probably haven’t noticed how the separate “men” and “women” public bathrooms are being replaced with “unisex” or “all-gender” bathrooms.
It used to be that men had their own washrooms and women had theirs. That was back when there were only two genders under the sun. Now that we’re enlightened, we need to make a place for the many possible genders out there that need to use necessary rooms when out and about.
Rather than creating a row of bathrooms perfect for every gender identity, business owners and governments have instituted a workaround by creating unisex bathrooms that everyone can use. These all-gender bathrooms are private, as well, which removes any qualms men, women or others would have from sharing a bathroom together.
I can understand the need for the unisex, private bathroom. It bails out the building’s owner from any legal liability connected with bathroom exclusivity. Since we live in a litigious society, a transgender individual can’t sue someone or an organization that has labeled their building’s bathrooms unisex or all-gender. I get that part of it. It clearly helps the transgender community go to the bathroom comfortably while out in public.
What I don’t get is why women are putting up with it.
A few years ago, before Bruce Jenner decided he was a woman and the transgender movement started to gain acceptance, women enjoyed their own bathrooms. As a longtime janitor at a function hall in Windham, I’m aware of the, shall we say, different methodologies employed by men and women when using the bathroom. Suffice to say, women are much cleaner and tidier than men.
When the two genders, plus the aforementioned transgender individuals, use the same bathroom, the cleanliness level reverts to the least tidy among the genders. And we all know that is men.
There are certain physical forces at work in why men’s bathrooms are less clean, but we’ll avoid the specific talk of that since this is a family newspaper. Beyond that, men’s bathrooms typically incorporate urinals and toilets; women only use toilets. In a unisex bathroom, gone are the urinals, meaning everyone uses the same toilet. Everyone. Men, women, transgenders and children.
In this new communal situation, women suffer.
For starters, men don’t put the seat down, and it’s not because they forget. No man wants to touch a toilet seat, so the accepted practice – in a men’s bathroom – is to leave it up both for cleanliness’ sake and for convenience. Women, however, leave the toilet seat down. They have no reason to raise the seat. When I clean men’s toilets, I leave the seat up. When I clean the women’s bathroom, I leave them down. Both positions are a courtesy to the next user.
But when men and women use the same toilet, I guarantee women will have to lower the seat most times. This is understandably inconvenient and unclean.
Besides toilet use, men are just all-around slobs in the bathroom. I’m not sure if this is an act of will, conditioning, heredity or Darwinian evolution, but it’s a fact. And women won’t let an unkempt bathroom go uncleaned. They won’t wait for the janitor to rectify a situation; they’ll take it upon themselves to clean up a mess, probably thinking the next person would assume they caused it. Men don’t care what the next user thinks.
I feel sorry that women now have to share a disgustingly trashed-out bathroom because it’s the politically correct thing to do. I’m sure the transgender community feels sorry for the women, too, but they’re too happy having earned a sign of societal acceptance to probably notice women’s plight.
These aren’t just my thoughts. After using one of these newfangled, inclusive bathrooms a few weeks ago, I built up the nerve to ask a female employee what she thought of having to share the bathroom with men. She said with a frustrated voice that the women at her job were about to file a complaint to human resources because they couldn’t stand it anymore.
While I agree with their concerns, I hope their protests fail because I’m a man who appreciates a tidy bathroom. And women are the only ones who know how to keep a bathroom clean.
John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.