Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy

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Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy
Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy

On May 4, 2023, Sichuan University changed some men's toilets to women's toilets in consideration of the current situation of more women than men on campus, which caused controversy inside and outside the university.

Biological differences make it necessary for women to go to the toilet with more space and time, which makes there always long queues in front of public women's toilets. Women have only been out of the home and into the workforce for only two hundred years, and in many countries there are fewer public women's toilets than men's toilets, and toilets are equal, slowly moving forward in the midst of arguments.

Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy

Public women's toilets, from exclusion to acceptance

On February 11, 1852, at 51 Bedford Street in London, England, the world's first public women's toilet with a flushing toilet was opened. It was a small wooden house with 6 toilets, a hexagonal pointed dome, a mahogany wooden vanity and toilet, admission 2p, and extra money if you want to comb your clothes.

Shortly after opening, this luxurious public toilet designed for women was closed.

At that time, women rarely went out to work. Their main role is to take care of the family, and shopping without male companionship will be ridiculed. The big city of London has poor sanitation, the Thames smells bad, garbage is dumped everywhere, and people defecate on the streets. Public toilets are synonymous with uncleanliness, and women who use them are considered prostitutes.

The appearance of public women's toilets is related to the invention of flush toilets. The year before, in 1851, at the Universal Exposition in London, plumber George Jennings had installed a batch of flush toilets in his lounge to prove that toilets could be luxurious and tidy. During the fair, people can have a clean seat, towel, comb and shoe polish for a penny, and enjoy a wonderful bowel movement experience in public.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors were attracted to the luxury public toilets, including a large number of ladies. But when these women, tied by corsets and carrying large semi-round skirts, entered the public toilet, they only curiously talked to the waiters who charged by the sink, pulled the metal chain on the tank, and observed how to automatically flush the water, and did not intend to solve physiological needs in it.

Conservative ladies believe that going to the toilet means nudity, vulnerability and insecurity, and that anyone who sees them enter the public toilet can imagine what they are doing inside, which is a shame.

Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy

Figure | The world's first women's public toilet with a flush toilet

Britain's Ladies Sanitary Association was also set up at that time to promote women's public toilets, but women were reluctant to buy it and men were opposed. In 1898, a women's advocacy group built a model of a women's toilet near Camden High Street in London, when a male taxi driver deliberately rammed it to prove its location was inappropriate.

When a London-based department store opened in 1909, a women's toilet was made available to those who called for women to participate in politics at the time. In 1918, towards the end of the First World War, nearly a million British women were already working in munitions factories, and at the request of the women's workers, the factories began to provide women's toilets and dressing rooms.

Until after World War I, opposition to women's restrooms continued, with some employers reluctant to install women's toilets and believing that women were taking men's jobs.

Two hundred years ago in the United States, as the number of women working in factories and mills gradually increased, gender-neutral toilets appeared in public places, but the safety and privacy of public toilets attracted the attention of society at that time. In 1887, the Massachusetts state government enacted a law requiring gender segregation in public toilets. By 1920, all U.S. states had enacted similar laws.

Behind the shortage of women's toilets is the unequal gender structure.

In the United States in the 1990s, women's political status increased and the number of female senators was growing, but the Senate floor of the Capitol in Washington had only one men's restroom, which said "Senators Only", which meant that all senators were men. Nancy Kassebaum and Barbara Mikulsi, the only two female senators at the time, could not use the men's restroom, and they had to go downstairs and join the tourists in long lines.

At that time, whether in the US Capitol or in the capitals of the 50 US states, the lack of women's toilets was an urgent problem. One New York state congresswoman recalled, "We had to tell the janitor when we left this floor to go to the bathroom. We need to spend a lot of time going back and forth, worried about missing the vote... as if we're asking for permission from our teachers. ”

In 1993, the first women's toilet was available on the Senate floor of the U.S. Capitol; In 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court, built in 1935, was renovated to include gender equality facilities; It wasn't even until 2011 that the U.S. House of Representatives had its first women's restroom.

In some male-dominated fields, it is difficult for women to have privacy in the workplace. This has sparked some lawsuits in the United States.

In 1997, Audrey Jo DeClue filed a complaint with the U.S. Court for the Seventh Circuit, alleging workplace sexual harassment. She was the only female lineman at an Illinois electric company, and because the company didn't provide enough restroom equipment, she was forced to be convenient in front of her male colleagues while patrolling the line in the field, without any trees or shrubs around her to protect privacy.

The crew chief made the following discriminatory remarks about her: "You have a three-year-old bladder" and "We'll never get the job done because I'm sure we have to stop at Edwards and have you pee there too".

But at the time, DeCrux's sexual harassment complaint was dismissed, with two male judges voting against and one female judge voting in favor.

The lack of women's toilets can cause some women to lose their jobs. In the nineties, a sports hat company in Texas, USA, had 80 employees, 95% of whom were women, but only provided a toilet. In August 1992, the company refused to build more toilets as required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and instead laid off dozens of female employees.

There is also a history of lack of women's toilets in the United States education sector. In the 1950s, while teaching at Harvard University, Alan Dershowitz, a male lawyer, found that there were no female students in law school, and some faculty members objected to admitting women on the grounds that there were not enough women's restrooms. "It's much easier to keep women out of law school in this debate than to turn a few urinals into women's restrooms." He said.

Later, women began to be admitted to Harvard Law School, and by the mid-1960s, women began to be appointed to Harvard's faculty members, and to accommodate the needs of this very small number of women, the school set up a "faculty" toilet.

In India, the "toilet desert", especially in the slums, the lack of women's toilets is a prominent problem. According to the 2011 census, more than half of Indian households do not have toilets. In India's public places, there are few free public toilets with women's facilities, and women have to pay for them, which is a heavy burden for ordinary women in a country where the average income barely exceeds $2 a day. In addition, Indian women face the threat of sexual harassment and rape when they go to the toilet.

According to a 2009 survey, Mumbai, India's capital, has only 132 public women's toilets, many of which are barely usable, compared with 1,534 public men's toilets. To solve the toilet problem, Indian women are forced to use "flying toilets" – holding plastic bags to the toilet and discarding them when they run out.

In 2005, the government of the northern Indian state of Haryana launched the "No Toilets, No Brides" initiative, requiring men to build private toilets before marriage. This led to a 21% increase in private sanitation coverage among male households in Haryana who were active in the marriage market between 2004 and 2008. In some parts of India, the initiative has had little effect because there is no shortage of women.

In April 2012, 35 NGOs in India led the "Right to Pee" campaign, urging Mumbai municipalities to ensure that women use public toilets free of charge and require them to provide changing rooms and sanitary napkin vending machines. In June of that year, Mumbai city officials pledged to build hundreds of women's toilets, and some local lawmakers vowed to build women's toilets in each of their constituencies.

Whether politicians' promises can be fulfilled is another matter. "In Indian politics, promises often don't become reality." Some media wrote.

Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy

There are many women's toilets, is it equality or equality exception

British woman writer and journalist Caroline Criado Perez said in her book The Invisible Woman that the world is modeled on men, designed by men and designed for men.

The design and construction of public toilets is often considered to ignore differences between men and women.

Biological differences make it longer and more space for women to go to the toilet. Eight studies on the study showed that it took an average of 32 to 47 seconds for men to urinate, while six studies on women showed that women urinated for an average of 80 to 97 seconds, almost twice as long as men.

When using the toilet, men often simply stand, push and pull their trouser chains, while women need to squat down, get up, put on and undress, and sometimes deal with complicated clothing such as tights and suspenders.

During menstrual periods, women also need to go to the toilet frequently and change sanitary napkins or tampons; Pregnant women not only struggle to go to the toilet due to the enlarged uterus squeezing the bladder, but also often experience frequent urination; When mothers bring their babies, they also spend more time helping their children go to the toilet.

Many older buildings in the United States have few or no women's restrooms. This is because a large number of women have only been out of the home and into the workplace for nearly two hundred years. The proposal to add women's toilets originally came from a man.

In 1987, at a Tchaikovsky concert at the Hollywood Bowl, California senator and Los Angeles Democrat Art Torres languished outside the toilet for a long time before his wife and daughter came out. Torres introduced the "Toilet Equality" bill, which called for the addition of women's toilets in public, and in the same year, the bill was written into law.

The long wait caused by the scarcity of women's toilets caused some women to go sideways and enter men's toilets at the time, and paid the price. In 1990, in a 17,000-seat auditorium, female legal secretary Denise Wells was arrested and prosecuted for using the men's restroom because she couldn't stand the queues while attending a Houston Summit concert.

In court, a police officer testified that 20 women lined up to enter the women's restroom, and the line poured into the hallway, while the men's restroom line didn't even extend to the toilet door. The jury, made up of two men and four women, deliberated for just 23 minutes before acquitting Wells.

Inspired by the incident, Texas senators pushed for toilet equality legislation in 1993. The law of the State provides that the ratio of women's toilets to men's toilets shall not be less than 2:1 in buildings built from 1 January 1994 onwards, or in buildings that have been reconstructed, repaired or improved to more than 50 per cent of the area.

According to a news release by Bloomberg in 2014, as of that year, 21 states in the United States had toilet equality laws. Lawmakers require architects to design more women's toilets, or at least as many as men's toilets, in new or renovated public buildings.

There are also men who believe that their rights have been compromised. In 1995, Bob Glaser, an American man, sued the San Diego city government for $5.4 million in damages. The reason was that at a concert, a group of irritable women rushed into the men's bathroom. Glaser claimed he was "angry, frustrated, embarrassed, upset and felt violated," and a federal judge dismissed his complaint.

When there are fewer men's toilets than women's toilets, it will cause a lot of complaints from men. The new Philadelphia Coliseum, completed in 1999, has 26 men's toilets and 288 men's toilets, as well as 40 women's toilets and 580 women's toilets. At the time, some media reported that at some popular sporting events with large male spectators, as many as 40 men were crammed into the top of the ladder, each waiting 15 to 20 minutes to go to the bathroom. Security guards had to guard the men's toilet exit to stop the queue.

"It's neither right nor funny." A man said in the media at the time that the waiting time for toilet was too long, which made him consider finding a tree to solve it.

In the United States, some architects have applied for exemptions from the Toilet Fairness Act for a variety of reasons before construction of a new gymnasium begins. Former State Senator Andy Womack, who spoke out against the Fair Toilet Act, argues that the original bill was meant to give equality, but the current practice is creating an exception to equality.

Until now, there has been a debate around the world about whether there should be more women's toilets than men's toilets. For example, in May 2019, the Royal Society of Public Health issued a report calling for equality in toilets in all areas of the world, and in June of the same year, when someone asked when to increase the number of women's toilet spaces in front of women's toilets at Zurich Airport, Switzerland, airport managers responded indignantly, saying that architects "provide enough space for women."

Women's toilets are equal, why are they noisy

Ripples of toilet fairness

On May 4, 2023, Sichuan University changed some men's toilets into women's toilets, and Yukawa University boys wore Ding Zhen masks to distribute diapers in protest, and netizens quarreled endlessly.

Online proponents believe that this is a legal and reasonable practice that can alleviate the problem of queues in women's toilets; Opponents say the pursuit of equality between men and women should not come at the expense of men, and that schools should expand women's restrooms, not eliminate them.

On May 6, Sichuan University staff publicly stated that the renovation of the women's toilet was due to the fact that many female students and female teachers had received reports that the toilet was crowded, and that the failure to communicate with the male students before the implementation was a flaw in the work, and that they were currently meeting with student representatives to discuss the matter.

Before Sichuan University renovated women's toilets, many universities with an imbalance in the ratio of men and women changed some women's toilets to men's toilets, such as Communication University of China, Zhejiang University of Communication, Jiangxi Normal University, Fujian Normal University, etc.

Whether it is during the meal and chatting or expressing it in the circle of friends, Lin Jiaqi, a female student from Zhejiang University of Media and Communication, has an attitude of recognition and pride in this. She recalled that it was in 2022, and the school took into account the 1:3 ratio of men and women in the school, and merged the men's and women's toilets on the second floor of the teaching building and changed them to be for girls only.

Zhou Kai, a boy at the same school, also agreed with adding women's toilets. He said that from the most basic physiological point of view, boys go to the toilet much faster than girls; Logically speaking, the number of girls in the school is relatively large, but some toilets have been changed, which does not affect our boys' access to the toilet.

Zhou Kai found that the surrounding students, both boys and girls, were actually very supportive of the school's approach. But when he commented on Weibo to express support, some netizens jumped out and left a message: "You don't want to represent Zhejiang boys alone."

"Many boys don't understand girls' feelings very well, and many girls put themselves in a weak position, thinking that boys should be indulgent and considerate." Zhou Kai said that he could not understand why the matter of just converting the men's toilet into a women's toilet caused such a big controversy on the Internet. Later, he observed that both sides of the argument on the Internet were indiscriminately exporting emotions to vent their grievances from the opposite sex.

The rules for the allocation of toilet spaces for men and women are clear and well-followed. The International Building Standards published by the International Code Council have a 1:2 ratio of male and female toilet space recommendations. In December 2005, China's Ministry of Construction mentioned in the "Urban Public Toilet Design Standards" that the ratio of male squat (sitting, standing) position to female squat (sitting) position in public toilets should be 1:1-2:3, independent public toilets should be 1:1, and public toilets in commercial areas should be 2:3.

Toilet equality has been practiced in some places in Beijing and Shanghai, such as the Temple of Heaven during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, where 60 temporary toilets were set up, with a male to female toilet ratio of 1:4. In the new toilets built at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo, the ratio was 1:2.5.

By 2016, the policy had changed. The new version of the "Urban Public Toilet Design Standards" requires: "The ratio of female toilets to male toilets should be increased to 3:2; in places with concentrated crowds, the ratio of female toilets to male toilets should not be less than 2:1." ”

Regarding Sichuan University's initiative to change some men's toilets to women's toilets, Sichuan University student Wang Ling believes that teaching buildings generally do not have extra space to build women's toilets, the cost of expanding women's toilets is also very high, and the water pipes have to be rearranged, so it is more convenient to change men's toilets to women's toilets. "Supporting equality between men and women sometimes means handing away women's rights that men have been encroaching on for years." She believes that when everyone who fights over the fairness of the toilet can understand the other gender more, maybe people can start an equal conversation.

*There is ambiguity in the narrator's information in the text


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Written by Zhu Yunfan

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