Potty Parity in Federal Buildings


Your (Wo)Man in Washington made a joke in her last column about the first act of female legislators being to double the number of stalls in every public women’s restroom by federal statute. Imagine her suprise when a House committee convened a hearing this week on requiring newly constructed or renovated federal buildings to have the same number of stalls for women as the number of toilets and urinals for men. Swiftly nicknamed “The Potty Parity Act”, expert testimony was introduced contending that women simply require more time due to biology, clothing styles, and the need for stalls. A long line of ladies waiting for the loo is a form of gender discrimination suggesting male dominance. Having to wait too long can cause abdominal pain, urinary tract infections, and cystitis. In the past, most architects, builders, and building code enforcers would not have taken into account how the presence of women would impact the design of public facilities.

The members of the US House who attended the hearing, and reporters writing about it, could not restrain the urge to indulge in a little bathroom humor. Dana Milbank began his piece in the Washington Post this way: There are times when the legislative plumbing gets clogged, when frustration overflows, when the American people must pull up their collective trousers and reach for the plunger. With luck, the bill will wind its way through the legislative process, but don’t hold your breath…it could well be “stalled”!

‘Til next time,

Your (Wo)Man in Washington