Thursday, 4 December 2014

Are same sex toilets the way to go?

This is something I recently read a post about, where the writer was very opinionated and strongly in favour of unisex toilets. Reading it she had some very valid points, however she came across as aggressive and she seemed to have forgotten that changes like that take time. It's not "old fashioned" yet as many people still prefer separate toilets. We also discussed it in the feminism society at my uni, it was good to hear many different opinions, mostly from people who wanted to learn and were willing to listen to others opinions.

Personally, I think I would still choose to have separate toilets, but also have the choice to use a unisex bathroom. Men's bathrooms have urinals and if women and men had to share a bathroom the urinals would have to go, which many men wouldn't be too pleased about! Having urinals in a shared bathroom would mean it'd be all too easy for men to flash someone. Imagine walking in alone and a group of guys are in there, they spot you and, even if they are only joking and don't even come over to you... how would you feel? Safe? Respected? I wouldn't. I'd probably leg it out of there! Until our society has changed and rape culture is no longer a thing I won't feel comfortable and safe sharing a bathroom with men. Probably not even with cubicles.

An argument that someone brought up is that we don't have separate toilets in the home so what's the difference? It's a pretty big difference. Bathrooms at home generally have a lock on them and you're locked away in a little room, and usually you are living with people you know. Yes you can lock yourself in a cubicle but you know how easy it would be for someone to climb over or crawl under in some toilets. And again, urinals aren't usually locked away, so yes, it is very different.

Finally, there is the issue of where do those who identify as trans want this to go? I spoke to one person who said they use the unisex toilets at their university, but hardly anyone else does which makes them feel uncomfortable, only their friends do in support. This is a big issue which plenty of people forget as they don't see it as their problem. It is though, it's everyone's problem! 

I think there will be a gradual increase in unisex toilets available and as people are made aware that they are there and of the issues caused by separate toilets more people will end up using them. I don't think that we will be able to change fully from separate to unisex until this rape culture we are part of is totally over. I will be carrying on using the female toilets, especially at my university, maybe the 'lad culture' at other universities isn't as bad but at Portsmouth it's horrific.

Tell me what you think of all this, would you be happy to immediately switch to unisex or have it change gradually? Or are you not at all OK with it?


  1. This is such an odd post. I, for one have never seen a uni-sex bathroom in my life. I think we are all born being taught that the girls use the ladies where as the guys use the mens. These things we are taught are kind of the reasons people are against gay marriage and stuff. They are too caught up in traditions and what they were originally taught that they are reluctant to allow a change.

    In men's bathrooms there are urinals but in many women's bathrooms there are tampon machine etc. I think if that machine was used in front of a guy the encounter could be slightly awkward.

    Despite having many guy friends, I personally would prefer keeping them split. I feel like the ladies bathroom is almost a place where we can openly bitch or talk about women's monthly problem etc. Sometimes I like having a place that other people can't go you know?

  2. Women need a safe space. There are things women need to use a bathroom for that don't need to be shared with men. I think having a loo for anyone is a great idea and practical if there are lots of queues (disabled loos are unisex but then there's often only one cubice) but there still needs to be somewhere safe for women to go. My husband hates the idea of a unisex loo as he doesn't want anyone, let alone women, subjected to his morning, shall we say, 'routine' (that sounds so much worse than it is!)
    Also, sorry guys but you do leave the loos in an awful state. Maybe when you learn to hit the bowl 100% of the time we can reconsider! ;-)
    Great post. I'm surprised there were two sides at the feminist society debate.
    Simone |

  3. It's something that I've seen written about recently and there's a lot of talk about it in feminist circles at the mo.

    Very true, men's and women's bathrooms are very different.

    Recently I went to a huge club and the toilets were unisex, except on one side there were urinals, and the other was cubicles which women would always use, obviously. I felt like this was OK, and seeing as my friends are guys it was good knowing that they were on the other side of the door as I threw up haha! xo

  4. I agree, society isn't safe enough for women at the moment and until that changes we can't be put in that situation. We won't be put in that situation though it's likely to be a long time.

    Why are you surprised there were two sides from a feminism society? We have members who are trans and they feel uncomfortable about using the ladies, they've suffered bullying and abuse because of it and for them they would prefer toilets be unisex, which I think it perfectly understandable. It's unfortunately common for feminists to still exclude trans, and even disabled women! We need to be more inclusive and think how we can best benefit everyone.

  5. This is a topic I was introduced to by the trans movement when I was 16 and is something I agree with. HOWEVER, I don't think it would be safe to introduce it overnight as rape culture and violence are still too common. It will be a long process. It's difficult one because seperate-bathrooms are a disavantage to anyone who doesn't 'fit their gender' and mixed-sex would be a disavantage to women, I wouldn't want to argue one if better than the other. I think rape culture and trans discrimination needs to be fought first then we can go from there. But I do like your idea of there being venues that have seperate and uni sex for a while.

    As a side note I had a stay at home dad so he was the one who took me swimming and seperate changing etc was really awkward so I always insisted we went to the council leisure centre that only had one changing area (but all cubicles and still seperate toilets). I couldn't understand at that age why he could only drop me off at swimming lessons and I had to go in the changing rooms myself. the answer wouldn't be 'let my dad in with me' but fighting the reasons why men are more likley to initiate opposite sex violence. And then go from there.

    Morag x

  6. I totally agree with you. There doesn't seem to be any immediate 'right' solution for this as it affects so many different people, but it different ways. It deffo will be something that has to take time, if we ever get rid of separate bathrooms, the world will have to be a very different place, I'd like to see a world where we can peacefully, without fear, share bathrooms!

    I remember things like that, but I'm sure my dad took me to leisure centres where it was just cubicles. That's something that is needed. Unisex toilets in places like swimming pools, even at shopping centres, would also be handy for father's taking their young children out.

  7. I think you have misunderstood. I was surprised anyone was in favour of same sex loos, not against! You're preaching to the converted 😜

  8. This is really an interesting debate. At Leeds uni they have some same sex toilets and it's totally normal and people use them, however, I like the fact that there are split gender toilets for those who might feel more comfortable using those. I've also been in a bar in Liverpool where the toilets are all through the same door and there's urinals on one side and cubicles on the other and row of sinks kind of separate them but they're communal and that's fine by me too. I just think done gradually and well policed it should be fine, I just wonder what the actual need is for this to be done? xxxx

  9. I agree, it's something that should be implemented gradually and well policed. A lot of people aren't sure of the need but that's because they aren't thinking outside of their own personal gain. Not everyone defines themselves as simply male, or female. Trans, for one example of many. As I said in the post I spoke to someone who has had derogatory comments made towards them in public toilets and that they would way prefer unisex, which I think is totally understandable. They also said hardly anyone uses them and that they wish more people did. When you see it from that perspective I think its pretty clear why we need unisex bathrooms. We need to be more inclusive and find solutions that suit everyone, even feminism is exclusive sometimes and this is possibly one of those times! xo