they deserve. True stories interweave with urban legends of people getting conned, children being abducted and late night visitors finding themselves locked in until the next morning. Such anecdotes are covered in the press with astonishing regularity. But, the dilemma of the linguistically inapt tourist who doesn’t know which comfort station to choose and the distress of the mother of a little boy who clearly shouldn’t be left alone “in there” is always very real.
I don’t like public bathrooms any better than the next person, but I do have to admit that I have had my fair share of interesting, intriguing and, on occasion, even entertaining encounters while queuing. I have met long-forgotten relatives who hadn’t mention they were in town. I have made new friends while considering some people’s evident lack of good manners. And I have shared a chuckle and an awkward stare as well.
So, I plead for gender-neutral washrooms. The benefits are countless. For example, it would eradicate at least one instance of great gender-based favouritism in the world. It would make potty breaks a lot less traumatic for mothers with little lads and fathers with wee princesses. It would greatly help foreigners as well as androgynous-looking people to save face, not a task to be underestimated in the age of man-buns and ladies pantsuits. It would curtail some owners’ vexing sense of humour as far as creative signage goes. It would debunk the canards of men’s superior ability to aim at an intended target. In fact, I’m not sure this will pass as a benefit. And on a more serious note, its obvious space efficiency could allow even small venues to offer their patrons the luxury of an in-house loo.
This idea seems too progressive for comfort? I bet that’s how many felt when public schools became inclusive. Or when aforementioned railroad coaches, libraries and department stores ended their segregating tendencies. And come to think of it, nobody seems too bothered by unisex lavatories on airplanes either.
Let me leave you with this little jewel to ponder over the weekend: I recently stumbled upon a social media post illustrating an establishment where (mostly) youngsters of both sexes happily pee together — courtesy of your local, and very public, swimming pool!