Someday, the world will look back on this era and shake its collective head about decades of insanity. The world will wonder how we ever managed to live in these conditions. The world will congratulate itself that it finally saw the light and wonder why it took so long to do so.
Global warming? World peace? The inexplicable popularity of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians?”
No. I’m talking about an issue that is uniquely female: “Potty Parity.”
Even if you’ve never known the name for it, it’s a thing. You can look it up, no doubt on your smartphone while you’re waiting for a stall to open at Sky Harbor as the line snakes out into the concourse and male travelers sail past you into the men’s room with nary a hesitation.
You can look this up, too: the average American spends about five years of their lives waiting in line. I’m guessing that the average American woman spends another five years waiting at airports and arenas. It’s enough to leave Thomas Crapper spinning in his grave.
One does not have to be a whiz to see the problem: when you think about smaller bladders, the need to freshen makeup, or to make sure that one’s skirt isn’t tucked up in one’s Spanx, the need to assist children (whose need to go to the potty is off the charts in direct proportion to the difficulty of getting to a bathroom), it’s amazing that we all don’t just give up and set our home addresses to Third Stall on the Left.
The whole algorithm is complicated by the fact that women tend to visit the loo in groups, which dramatically affects the Mirror Quotient and doubles the length of the line, but that’s for another day and another ballgame.
It’s important for you to know history that affects you, so here are some key events in our quest for comparable tinkle time:
Despite important physical factors that make a bathroom visit twice as long for women as for men, pay toilets aren’t banned in New York until 1975.
The revolution began here; I can recall my own law-abiding mother in the ’60s defiantly holding the door of a pay stall so a fellow insurgent could sneak in.
Building codes for stadiums in the U.S. specify more toilets for men until the 1980s, on the sexist assumption that women don’t like sports.
The Restroom Equity Act is passed in California in 1989 after a state legislator gets tired of waiting for his wife. Seriously.
The Tennessee Restrooms Equity Act leads to the construction of LP Field in Nashville in 1999 with twice the number of facilities for women.
The news spreads (no doubt by word of mouth as women apply lipstick at sinks around the world) and pretty soon the Chinese city of Guanzhou passes an ordinance requiring public facilities for women to be half again the size of their male-dominated counterparts.
The city of Mumbai is still trying to get on board, however; leaktivists in India have only managed to secure the promise of a few local officials to build public facilities for women in just a few districts.
Our day will come, have no fear and we’ll march straight into the lavatory, right into a stall and conduct our business with a grateful, “Whee!”
• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Elizabeth Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.