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Can We Please Sit Down?



If I were to create a platform for public office it would be this: That women need to sit down.


I’m talking about bathrooms and the inequity that persists between the sexes in the loos.

The problem exists at every concert or public venue that I’ve ever attended: Long lines for the women’s room, and none, or very quick lines for the men. Somehow, this has escaped the attention of everyone. While we continue striving for equal pay for equal work, or equal athletic performance, from what I see, women still have a long way to go to get on equal grounds when it comes to the restroom. Just take a look at the next crowded public venue and you’ll see a line so long for the women’s room, that even if you don’t have to go, upon seeing it, the very thought of the time required to wait in the line urges even the bladder-strong among us to decide to get in line. All while men easily breeze in and out of their restroom.


So what exactly is going on here? Why does this persist? Women don’t want to be waiting in line patiently when the lights flicker and the second half of the show starts, their date settled comfortably back in his seat. And it’s certainly not like, once in the stall, each of us decides to take our time and force the others to wait unnecessarily.


The difference is simple and yet complex. We are different: Biologically and physically different! It’s a very different process for men and women to go to the bathroom, with different steps, requiring different timing. So, it takes women longer – not on purpose, and not because they’re being “high maintenance”. To even things out, women need many more bathrooms than men – to accommodate the additional time it takes each woman to do the female process, which includes, entering a stall, turning around to close the door, hanging one’s handbag and possibly coat/jacket/poncho on the back of the door, unfastening a belt to take down one’s pants/jeans/leggings, performing the seating (which may include proper paper placement) or hover, collecting the paper, wiping, re-dressing, collecting the coat and handbag, and unlocking the door.


Add to this the complication of a visiting Aunt Flow, or the urinary challenges that women are the unique recipients of as a physical result of childbirth. Now compare that to a man’s swift and efficient walkup-stand-and-deliver at a urinal there’s likely at least a five-to-one difference in the time it take women vs. men to relieve themselves.


Yet what will it take to change? After having to fight for the vote, women are likely to hear they should be grateful they have women’s bathrooms: after all it wasn’t long ago when bars only had men’s rooms. Meanwhile, the role of the Building Facility Manager is dominated by men, so making the necessary changes by adding more women’s rooms to existing venues, or building them into the blueprints of new builds, is going to take time, convincing and a bigger budget.


And in the meantime, everyone silently carries on as if this is all okay, acquiescing that it’s just “the way things are”, that women must wait in line for a simple, baseline, biological necessity that men don’t give a second thought to!

Isn't it time to stand up for women's right to sit down to do what they need to do?


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