Tuesday, 8 March 2005

Access all areas

Over at Slate, Ian Ayres argues that single-use toilets should never be gender-marked. (Linguistic aside: I always assumed Americans used "toilet" to refer specifically to the bowl, not the room - this is a rare instance of the latter referent.)

This makes perfect sense to me: I understand why toilets with cubicles and (in the men's room) urinals might need to be labeled "male" or "female", but it seems very inefficient to label the single-use ones - we don't do so for handicapped stalls, and, as Ayres points out, airlines don't do it. And doing away with labels prevents the ludicrous situation of women queueing up for the women's loo while the men's one goes blissfully unoccupied. So preventing the possibility of preventing transgendered people from being beaten up leads to efficiency gains (though, strictly speaking, not strongly Pareto optimal as this might increase the waiting time for men) - sounds good to me. Perhaps the World Toilet Organisation should be informed.

then there's the problem of whether to leave the seat up or down...

OED has it that toilet refers equally to the room and the lavatory in the US though. But what do they know anyway.

Seats up of course. If women are going to squat on it, they can at least leave it up! And is it just me or don't guys keep their visits shorter (ok so we miss the target sometimes. we can't all be sharpshooters can we) ? Gender-free single-use toilets might mean we get stuck behind a loooonnnnngggg queue of women.

Yeah I'm a Toilet Sexist at heart.

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