There’s been a lot of talk about bathrooms recently. From the gross North Carolina bill to Target welcoming bathroom based boycots to Caitlyn Jenner using Trump’s facilities, the places we do our business have become quite the little political landscapes.
And this is all strange because there is something so universal about bathrooms and something unsaid in these conversations: these are spaces where we literally take pisses and shits, to deposit our waste. No one likes using a public restroom. If given the opportunity, we would all save our literal shit for our home thrones but, you know, sometimes that is just not an option. The only difference in male and female restrooms are urinals, which are shrines to male entitlement, that men and women pee differently. But do men and women have to pee differently? No. There is no reason to pee differently. Everyone can sit down when they pee.
So here’s a potential solution to all this hullaballoo that I’ve been thinking about for years, mulling over as a means to dissolve gendered bathrooms: just make all bathrooms co-ed without urinals. Make everyone sit down when they pee. Eliminate urinals and hold everyone accountable for these bathroom bandits people in the South are so concerned with isolating and expressing prejudices against. Just make them People Rooms. Remove the gender.
That sounds flippant but let’s dive into the why on this. With the rise of cell phones, I would argue that more and more people are opting to sit down to take a break than stand. Why would you stand to pee when you can sit, check your Facebook, dirty up your phone, and be on your way? 75% of people use their phone on the toilet and 31% of people are staying in bathrooms longer to finish phone activity. Let me tell you this: that is not happening at urinals because those are exposed spaces. They’re happening in stalls where, sure, you could stand but it’s much more comfortable to sit and look at your phone, luxuriating on the commode.
Thus, eliminate the standing stations. If we want equal rights for the sexes, eliminate the fucking urinals, make the bathrooms all the same, for everyone, and let that be that. Yes, there would be concerns about cis men and cis women attacking each other and sexual predation but why not make the stalls more sturdy, actual small rooms for single users? Why not turns these restrooms into small spaces like at fancy restaurants where a closet is basically the toilet, assigned to no gender but person? Why not try for that? This would also eliminate the fucking ridiculous lines that form at places for women and not men or for men and not women, where one gender has no idea that the other space is open and is forced to wait because “that is not their gender.”
And, look, we’ve all been there: we’ve all used the opposite restroom in a pinch. Moreover, if it’s a single serving restroom that just says male/female as a formality, it literally does not matter. Use what is first available. I cannot tell you how many times dudes or dudettes have waited idly for their gender’s space to open as I walked past them into the opposite sex room. Sometimes people comment “You used the wrong restroom.” And? I was the only one in the space and my gender or lack thereof isn’t offended by taking a pee or poo in a space I don’t identify with directly. So what?
If you are looking to revamp and rethink our shit spaces through design, my suggestion is to capitalize on how the toilets reinforce gender norms and how bathrooms are the next destination for mobile entertainment. Just remove the urinals. They’re redundant and wasteful and, sure, they can speed up the potty process for men but they are not necessary. We all piss and shit in the same way and that seems to be the real barrier in the conversation around restrooms: they are unnecessarily gendered. If you really wanted to make progress in the pisser, you’d strip any resemblance of sex and just make it a space for your waste (and for you to play Minecraft and Tweet).