Bathroom Wars

mod toiletJust when I thought the culturewar was done, the public restroom seems to have replaced the public property nativity scene as the new battlefront. I confess I don’t get it. And I say that as father of a daughter, husband of a wife, and friend of too many women who have been raped or abused.

tmi alert …

I avoid the use of public restrooms. I don’t use urinals. I sit down to “go,” even at home. Clean, neat, more comfortable, and a habit from potty training. (My mom had a thing about cleanliness and order.) If I have no choice but a wall unit in a facility or a trough of male urine in the middle of a ballpark restroom I will go elsewhere.

I can tolerate stalls with those bottom and top openings. I stress “tolerate.”

I think the fight over public restrooms will have some collateral damage. On facebook, it’s a joke about bathroom police. But when women perceived as unfeminine are targeted, it’s no joke. I suppose some self-appointed folks will make some errors on this front. I can only hope they reap a proper portion of personal consequences. Inevitably those might be legal in nature.

Maybe all the fuss will put everybody into single-use private rooms before another generation passes. Plumbing joins other trades as part of American infrastructure refurbishment. And maybe I would use the restroom more often.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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9 Responses to Bathroom Wars

  1. I’m a pretty liberal minded Catholic. (Read my blog for Catholics who care: or find my essays at
    Bathrooms are no big deal for me. I’m also a camper. What I am angry about is the dangerous place a women’s room will become especially for young girls and teenagers. Anyone dressed like a woman can now enter a public restroom unquestioned. So who is to say a ” wolf ” in “sheep’s clothing won’t use this ridiculousness as a new opportunity to find a victim. Meaning a pervert could wonder in and cause all sorts of damage. No one can even question them for being there. Once a child is sexually taken advantage of yhere us no fixing it. What is wrong with people? If you have a d–k use the men’s room. Period.

    • Todd says:

      I have heard women comment about this, but my question remains: what was stopping men from dressing as women before this year? Didn’t Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams register at all? I’m assuming women’s rooms don’t have urinals, so if a trans person feels safe in a stall, what’s the problem? I’d also assume that any person, woman or man, who peeked under a stall would be equally guilty of an invasion of privacy, if not the law.

      • Liam says:

        And certainly many men have experienced women commandeering stalls in the men’s lavatories (even where there’s potty parity).

        One thing I will note: in almost every office environment I’ve worked in over the past 30 years, there’s been a significant difference between men’s and women’s lavs: conversation (or the lack thereof). Conversations in the women’s lav is often audible outside the door thereto; a pregnant silence normally reigns in the men’s lav – speech, such as it is, is terse and limited to the sinks.

      • I agree with you. The argument asks us to believe that sexual predators are willing to rape and molest children and yet they are so scrupulous that they are unwilling to break the social convention of using the wrong restroom in pursuit of victims. Plus, according to these arguments, these sexual predators have been using the men’s room with little boys all this time and no one cares. It doesn’t make any sense.

  2. Liam says:

    This was a subject where I think it was best for the law to remain silent (as it largely has been until lately) – not a fan of either flavor of bathroom bill, as I think they are ham-fisted.

    What a lot of women don’t realize is the survival of gang showers (that is, showers without partitions – one big wall or room of several shower heads – and more rarely, gang toilets – for men. The lower men’s/boys locker room of my local YMCA still have gang showers, and I am aware of commercial gyms that have them (and not old ones at that). Their origin comes from earlier in the 20th century – a deliberate tool to desensitize boys about privacy so that they would not be shocked by the time they were conscripted for the armed services – because there would be absolutely no privacy in the armed services. Having been beaten up in a toilet stall in 4th grade (the first grade where there was a multi-user boys lavatory with no adult oversight – the teachers being 90% female…), I didn’t use the restroom in public school for another 8 years (yep. it had lifelong consequences.), and was beyond shocked at the gang toilet for scouting camp (needless to say, it was the woods at night for me).

  3. Melody says:

    What Liam said, about group showers. My husband was in the military and said they were shamed as “sissies” in basic training if they showed shyness or modesty about showering with others. They had group showers for the girls when I was in 9th grade p.e. I never used them, neither did most of my peers. We just sprayed on the industrial strength Right Guard. It was my goal to avoid ever messing up my hair, breaking fingernail, or Lord forbid, breaking a sweat. Time to end group showers in schools, nobody likes them.

  4. Melody says:

    The threat of “trans” people in public restrooms is being used as a bogey-man. Or is it bogey-woman. At least in schools, ones own same-sex peers are more of a danger in the restroom than the possibility that there might be someone who is transgender. I dont know if you read about the teen girl in Delaware who died after being beaten up by other girls in the restroom a couple of weeks ago. The autopsy revealed that she had an undiagnosed heart ailment which caused her death, rather than blunt force trauma. But the shock and stress of the situation brought on heart failure. Bullying and beatings frequently happen in school restrooms because there is little to no adult supervision, and usually the victims and perpetrators are known to one another.

  5. Jim McCrea says:

    “If you have a d–k use the men’s room.” Should she just saunter up to a urinal, hike her skirts and whizz away?

    And if one are female to male transperson but still have female plumbing, are you prepared to see him saunter into the ladies room and do his thing there?

    Think about the ramifications of what you said. Are you ready for THOSE realities, particularly the very real potential for violence in the men’s room?

    If someone thinks that cross dressing is license for abuse, there are laws to take care of their perversion.

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