Standing up for manners!

Last night something happened to me which ought to be a question for Miss Manners.

I attended a musical event at a large church in Philadelphia, and during the break, I decided to take a simple leak. The bathrooms were upstairs, and when I got up there I saw a couple of men standing around looking very confused. When they saw me (it must have been apparent that I needed to use the men's room), one of them said, "You're too late! The women have taken over the men's room!"

I looked over, and sure enough, there were two women standing in the partially open doorway to the men's room -- appearing to be acting as "lookouts" while standing in line. There was no line to the women's room, but the door was shut. While I couldn't look inside their minds, these "guards" did appear to have haughty, even triumphant, looks on their faces.

COME ON! Public bathrooms are public bathrooms. Why were these men behaving like such wimps?

As all I wanted to do was take a leak, it occurred to me that there might be urinals in the men's room. Simple logic also told me that if there were, they were probably not being used by the women. So I walked past the hapless men, and politely excused myself as I stuck my head through the door, asking whether there were any urinals.

The guards looked a bit sheepish, one of them saying "I don't know" and I saw that indeed there were two urinals, each one enclosed by typical semi-stall doors. So I walked up to one of them, and proceeded to go about my business.

"THERE ARE WOMEN IN HERE!" shrieked a loud, angry voice from inside one of the regular toilet stalls.

"That's OK, I am just using the urinal," I replied. (I guess I should have added that there was one still available, but, much as I'd have enjoyed the debate, there was no further discussion.)

When I finished, I left.

I am not unsympathetic to the plight of women having to stand in line in restrooms when men can just run in, do their thing, and run out. And in theory I have no major objection to a woman using a men's room in a case of desperation. But in fairness (and we are talking about equal rights, right?), shouldn't a desperate man have just as much right to use a women's room? And if someone does use a public restroom normally reserved for the opposite sex, then I don't see how normal patrons should forfeit any right to use it.

I think the rule should be, "if you break the rules, you take your chances."

Or does it take a deterrent?

THE LINKS FLOW: Are there legal issues involved? One analyst thinks so. More on his concept of "potty parity" here, and here. And "toilet fascism."

In some cities it is a crime to use the restroom of the opposite sex. Or for the wrong "sex" to use the wrong restroom.

Might I have been a crime victim last night?

I'm confused.

Should I just flush this post?

posted by Eric on 04.04.04 at 06:03 PM


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If the females are going to push the issue I think we're missing the point. (I.e. What gender's room were THEY in again?)

El Jefe   ·  April 5, 2004 1:11 PM

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