12 February 2014

Men's bathrooms

This is a post I never thought I would have to write. But here we are, so ladies, listen up, I'm speaking to you.

Ladies, do you know what the difference is between men's bathrooms and women's? The men's bathrooms are for, y'know, men. Period.

I point out this subtle distinction because it appears to have been lost. I have witnessed it first hand twice. The first time was back in September when I had taken my mother to the hundredth anniversary of St Mary Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows in Kitchener. I went to the downstairs bathroom, past a long line of ladies who were waiting to get into their bathroom when I ran into lineup of men waiting to get into ours. Unused to waiting like this, the men were shifting their weight from foot to foot and getting uncomfortable while the women openly laughed at us and mocked us, saying it was amusing to them that we now had to wait to use the facilities. Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the door to the men's room opened, and out came three women. Not content with making other women wait, they had decided to share the misery, and make us wait, too.

I thought that this was a simple isolated event, and chalked it up to a the unusually large crowd at an all day service at the church. But then, just before Christmas, I had taken the family to Christ the King Cathedral in Hamilton. After Mass had ended, I took Frodo with me down to the men's bathroom in the basement. As usual, we passed by a long line of women waiting to get into their bathroom, but there was no line up for the men's. As I helped Frodo in the stall, I heard other people with unusually high pitched voices come into the bathroom. I had to go to the bathroom myself, and as the stall was rather small for Frodo and me to shift position and for me to keep an eye on him while I relieved myself, so I decided to use a urinal instead. As we came out someone pushed past me in their hurry to go into the stall, and as I looked around, I saw the room was filled with women. They had formed a waiting line for the stalls in front of the urinals.

"Um, you do know this is the men's room, right?" I ventured.

"We were tired of waiting," one told me.

"Would you mind waiting outside so I can use the urinals?" I asked. Politeness usually works on Catholics.

"No," one said. "You can go at home."

"I can go at home?" I said. "I can go at home? You can go to he-" I remembered exactly where I was and didn't finish the statement. The other women were glaring at me, like I was interrupting them. There was nothing to do for it, so I left.

Ladies, I have supported many of the issues of women's liberation. I have supported you often in your quest for equal rights. I draw the line here. That was my bathroom, not yours. The fact that other women are in front of you in the line up to get to your bathroom, and that the women in that bathroom spend twenty minutes doing whatever it is you do is not my problem. It is your problem. Deal with it in some way that doesn't involve us. Like, say, the next time the renovation committee meets or you hear a new church is being designed, petition whoever is in charge to put more fixtures in the women's bathroom than in the men's- a ratio of twenty or so to one seems about right.

And in the meantime, stay the heck out of our johns.


Mary N. said...

Errrr...guilty as charged. But it was my daughter who was very young at the time, an "emergency" and I decided to save the church the money from having to clean the carpets.

I hang my head in shame...especially because she was in there forever and whoever went in next probably wished they hadn't.

Still, I understand what you are saying here. I have seen the same thing happen many times.

Mary N. said...

Even worse, they only have single bathrooms.

Patience said...

I would never use a men's communal bathroom. (with stalls) but I will use a private bathroom with the man symbol on it in restaurants if the woman's is in use. As they're private. But the communal bathrooms are off limits to me; I just can't imagine ever going into one. (and then there's the whole transgender bathroom issues; how bout that eh?)

Mary N. said...

Not looking good, Bear - 2 out of 2 so far...