originally let’s talk about restroom equity (June 14, 2005)
One week ago, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a so-called “potty parity” law, a/k/a
In the name of gender equity, REB requires new bars, concert halls, arenas, stadiums,
auditoriums, dance clubs, and meeting halls, as well as existing establishments that
make extensive renovations to provide twice as many bathroom stalls for women as for men.
Brooklyn Council Member Yvette C. Clarke was the bill’s primary sponsor. Clarke is quoted in a
NYT feature article saying “To me, this bill goes beyond toilet significance. It goes all the way to the
issue of gender equality, and quality of life.” (NYT, “Time for a Bathroom Break, With No Waiting,
June 10, 2005)
been rather tongue-in-check, I want to be a bit more serious with this post. It may be time for
males to stop turning the other cheek — before the serious struggle to make both genders equal
under the law is turned into nothing more than an assertion of women’s political clout. Over
a mere handful of years, “potty parity” went from the reasonable request for “equalizing excretion
opportunities” — having the same number of toilets in the Women’s Room as there were toilets
plus urinals in the Men’s Room — to demanding the “equalization of waiting time.” (cf. Harvard
Alum. Bulletin, “We Are Where We Excrete,” Summer 2003).
My computer — which may have a better knack for self-preservation than I — has twice
crashed while I’ve been drafting this post. Since the topic seems to be coming out only in
drips and dribbles, I hope you won’t mind my doing it in a mostly-blurb style.
Just like male pols: REB demonstrates to me that women in politics can behave just as
poorly as men — sponsoring special-interest legislation, using hyperbole, Orwellian terminology,
and misdirection, while paying little heed to the cost or inconvenience to other, the damage to future
applications of the principle being asserted, and the existence of far more important problems to
solve. That’s especially true when, like here, men let them.
Hyperbole & Misdirection? Here’s what passes for a Declaration of Legislative
Findings and Intent under REB (emphasis added):
Almost every woman can recall waiting in a long line to use the
bathroom, while there was no comparable line for a neighboring
men’s bathroom. According to studies by Dr. Sandra Rawls on
patterns of behavior in the use of bathrooms, it frequently takes
women twice as long to use the bathroom as it does men. Under
the City’s Building Code, however, places of assembly must provide
equal numbers of women’s and men’s water closets. This ignores
the reality of the different bathroom usage times of men and women.
The 2003 International Building Code requires approximately
twice as many water closets for women as for men . . .
The lack of equality between men and women results in the continuation
of inconveniences seemingly directed at women. The Council is seeking
to address this disparity by enacting this legislation.
I will give Council Member Clarke credit, she toned down the Declaration from her
2003 version, which found that “Every woman can recall” a dreadful wait on line,
and then voiced outrage by asserting that “the absence of sufficient women’s
bathrooms in many places of public assembly, and the resultant lines for women’s
bathrooms, is one of the most blatant, demeaning, and visible forms of gender
discrimination in our society. ” [Like, OhMyGod!!]
As for the facts, the Legislation cites a study showing that it frequently takes
women twice as long to use the bathroom as it does men. Is this due solely to
biology? Well, citing the same study and one other, GWU Prof. John F. Banzhaf
III (who Clarke herself calls “The Father of Potty Parity”) admitted in a 1990 NLJ
article, “Final Frontier for the Law?”:
“They attribute their longer stays in part to having more clothes to
manipulate; having children with them; or taking the time to comb
their hair, adjust their make-up, smoke or just talk. But because
none of these is an immutable sex-based characteristic, it may seem
unfair to some — and may, to others, constitute discrimination against
men — to provide men with smaller restrooms that have fewer overall
facilities simply because many females want to talk, primp or smoke
Rascals might point out that women often go to bathrooms in pairs or groups (just
for the company) — a behavioral pattern rarely seen in men, but one that sure would
make lines and waits longer.
the length of the lines
at the stadium restrooms
Ed Markowski from games (pawEprint 78, Nov. 2004)
Beware Ms.Information and Weasel Words: When the Restroom Equity Bill was
introduced in June, 2004, the sponsors stated:
“The 2003 International Building CodeComments Off on potty parity in NYC