Why are women still queuing for toilets?

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Ridiculous toilet queues for Harry Potter

I recently went to see the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Play at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End and while the play was excellent there was something that pissed me off – the queue for the women’s toilets.

Now the venue was sold out so it was obviously very busy but the toilet situation was ridiculous. At all times there was a huge queue to the ladies lavs.

Not once was there a queue to the men’s toilets. I wanted to skip the queue for the girl’s and head to the blokes but a last ditch attempt at decorum prevented me from doing so.

In one of the interludes, we only got to the front of the queue as the next act was starting. We had to pee as fast as we could and do only a cursory wash of our hands and rush back to our seats before the play restarted. As we sat back down, Papa Ginge, blessed with a penis was leisurely eating some haggen daz ice cream. Must be nice.

Why are women still queuing for toilets?

Ridiculous toilet queues all the damn time

As usual I let it go and then it happened again! I took my son to Disney Frozen on Ice at an arena and it happened again. My poor 4 year old could barely hang on long enough for the queue to go down. If his dad had been there he would have had no problem though, again, no queues for the blokes toilets. It’s just not good enough.

Now this is nothing new. I bet every woman reading this has experienced this hundreds of times at nightclubs, gigs, cinemas, festivals, shopping centres, restaurants – you name it.  It even happens at work, no wonder there is a gender pay gap, we lose part of our working day queuing when we could be fighting for that pay rise. I bet some men have never queued for a toilet but I bet every female has. I asked the blokes I know about this and they all told me that they found it annoying having to wait for their female friends to go to the toilet. Each of them told me that they thought it took us a long time because we are doing our make up or something until I explained that is not why there are queues. The queues are for the use of the toilets themselves.

But what can we do?

Why haven’t we addressed this by now? How does one go about fighting for toilet rights? It seems like a frivolous and unnecessary campaign on the face of it but it’s the small indignities like these that women face on a daily basis that amalgamates into the larger latent discrimination big picture. When you take into account many of us are dealing with periods or post-partum pelvic floor issues (because again, doctors don’t take women’s issues seriously) then it adds insult to injury.

It seems like something that wouldn’t be too hard to rectify if we demand the problem to be fixed. Surely there are some solutions to this issue that is stealing our valuable time and dignity? More toilets for women? Personally I would like to see gender neutral toilets, where both men and women use the same loos. It would not only solve this issue but would also help address the topical issue of transgender toilet rights that is always in the news and on social media lately. I would much rather share a bathroom with men than have to deal with lengthy queues and I would really like the trans-community to feel comfortable too. It’s high time that toilets stopped being such an arse on for all.

Tell me in the comments if this has happened to you? Do you find it annoying? Do you have any ideas for how we can address it?

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Why are women still queuing for toilets?

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16 thoughts on “Why are women still queuing for toilets?”

  1. I also recently went to Disney On Ice where there was a huge queue for the women’s toilets but none for the men’s. It was also the queue for the baby change which was in the one disabled toilet inside the women’s. The poor woman behind me had to queue for the toilet and then for that cubical it was ridiculous. I knew it would be bad so I changed my daughter on the arena floor (with a mat down as she had only had a wee). Still it sucks, I agree with gender neutral toilets.

    Jodie x

    • Thanks Jodie. It’s extra hard when you have kids with you. Imagine how much easier taking kids out and using baby change would be if everyone could use the same toilets! Thank you for commenting.

  2. Interesting theme for a blog post! but something that deserves to be highlighted Nyomi. Far too often I’ve experienced large venues with an inadequate number of cubicles for ladies… and hurrah for the few who get it right! (a local small football club had 4 ladies toilets, never a queue!) I agree with the gender neutral idea, and although our male partners are right to say they have to wait while we top up our lippy etc. it’s our biological differences which mean we need more time. ?

  3. I do think this is an issue and I’ve used gender neutral loo’s at a few places and don’t have an issue with it but don’t think this is the issue. I’ve also been forced to use an empty disabled loo on a number of occasions when the kids have been bursting and can’t wait.

    I’m pretty sure men are in and out because it is just quicker for them to have a wee – stand at urinal, unzip pants, do the deed, quick wash of hands on done. 4 men could be doing this all at once in the same space as 2 cubicles. For women, it’s the whole open door, lock door, find somewhere to hang/balance bag that isn’t covered in germs, check loo seat for wee, check there is loo roll……and that’s just for starters. I really do think it’s just quicker for men and that’s why the queues aren’t as long.

    So really for real gender equality, women could have the option of urinals (which I’m pretty sure no one would go for) or men could get rid of urinals but that would just increase waiting time for them rather than decrease waiting time for us.

    If you did introduce unisex loos, i think it would actually take longer for everyone as I’m assuming you’d get rid of urinals and there would therefore be less loos to go round meaning everyone would queue longer – all you’d achieve is that it wouldn’t just be females who suffered but it would also be males and personally, this feels like a step backwards I think.

    I don’t know what the solution is – more space for loos perhaps but commercially this won’t work. It’s a tricky one!

    • You know I’ve been speaking to men about this and I haven’t spoken to one that doesn’t hate urinals yet. They have all said it puts them under peer pressure, its gross and they would rather use a cubical. That’s the other side of this patriarchal issue. I do think both sides are suffering. Perhaps you are right and the issue is simply venues don’t have adequate toilet facilities full stop. I do agree women take marginally longer than men sometimes (although if we go at the same time I generally get out at the same time or before Papa Ginge) but I think a big part of the issue is women go more frequently. I know anecdotally Papa Ginge can go in the morning, then go to work all day and not go again until the evening when he gets home 10 hours later, whereas I will have gone several times in that time. Thanks for commenting, you’ve given me food for thought.

  4. It drives me absolutely crazy. I just go in the men’s if there is a line. Every time. (I laughed so much at the decorum part!!) I announce myself, and if there are men in there I wait. If men come in while I am in there, I don’t care. I totally want gender neutral bathrooms for about 18 reasons. It’s funny that I read this tonight. My husband took Sophie to ballet last week, and she was hysterical when he couldn’t go in the bathroom with her. When he was telling me about it, I couldn’t for the life of me fathom why he didn’t take her in the men’s! Instead she was sent in by herself to pee, scared and crying. It’s ludicrous that we collectively view this as more acceptable than putting our ass where there may have been a boy ass. Please!
    We are just using the toilets, right? Is anyone walking around butt naked in there? If so, stop. That’s weird. Otherwise, I really don’t understand the problem.

  5. Oh my gosh I find this soooo annoying. As a bladder-challenged woman, it’s sometimes touch and go whether I’ll make it on time when the queues are massive. I think they should install 4 female toilets for every one male toilet, that ratio seems about right in most places. But I do love your idea of gender neutral loos too. I mean, what’s the big deal? Do we assume that blokes couldn’t possibly help themselves from having a peek over the top of a stall? No, of course they wouldn’t, and neither would it happen the other way round. There’d just be more people around to compliment you on a great fart which is always a positive in my book.

  6. I have never thought about this issue before. I usually don’t go to public bathrooms unless I absolutely have to but I do remember having to wait in line many times. It’s a good question to be brought up but I’m going to agree with Tracey on this one as I think facilities aren’t giving us enough bathrooms to use, especially big venues that know they are always packed for big shows. They definitely need more bathrooms. #blogcrush

  7. Oh it’s soooo frustrating! And yes you’re right – it’s not putting on our makeup it’s just wanting to use the loo. Let’s get campaigning!

    And congratulations because someone loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky. Feel free to collect your “I’ve beenf featured” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

  8. I call this architectural sexism. It’s way up there in my book. Such a basic need. Admittedly it only affects a privileged few of us.
    It beggars belief that we don’t even know what the appropriate ratio is of female to male toilets to ensure equally annoying queues at each. Am important research question for social scientists surely?

  9. I have wet myself waiting for the ladies’ when there was no queue for the men’s at all. After that happened I just go in the men’s if I’m busting. Most places the men have been fine, they just act like nothing’s unusual at all. It’s quite pathetic that the public toilet situation wasn’t solved years ago with more cubicles for women, but I support unisex toilets as a solution. I’ve used one or two in Sydney and it’s easy to design them with urinals round a corner for the guys. No one minds if it’s a nice venue where everyone’s cool about it.


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