Like small pockets and unnecessarily expensive razors, long women's bathroom lines seem to be an annoying yet inevitable part of the female experience. But what if it didn't have to be that way? What if women could waltz into any restroom and find an open stall waiting for them? According to The Atlantic, the issue could be fixed once and for all by a seemingly simple measure: installing more toilets in women's bathrooms.
Historically, public restrooms have been designed with men in mind. Up until the Victorian era, bathrooms were male-only spaces because it was believed that men were the only ones who had any business being out in public. If women happened to be out and about and needed to pee, they had to crouch over a gutter or use a device called a urinette (kind of like a 19th-century Shewee).
With that said, the debate surrounding "potty parity" is fairly recent. After witnessing how long his wife and daughter had to wait in line for the bathroom at a Tchaikovsky concert in 1987, a state senator from California introduced legislation to provide women with more toilets. For the first time, the fact that women simply take longer on the toilet—partly because they have to enter a stall and sit down, but also because they have periods—was publicly addressed. The law passed, and it stipulated that new buildings have at least 50 percent more bathroom stalls for women than for men. Large cities like New York City and Chicago and at least 21 states passed similar laws in the years following.
So why are long women's bathroom lines still a problem? For one, the laws don't apply to bathrooms that existed prior to the legislation passing. There's also an extra cost associated with installing more toilets than plumbing codes require—something many developers aren't willing to take on. One way of circumventing the problem is by installing more gender-neutral toilets, but these tend to spark fierce debate in the public and political spheres.
Some have gotten creative. Bathrooms at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, have changeable signs that let men's bathrooms be converted into women's bathrooms depending on the sex ratio of the crowd on any given night. As The Atlantic points out, there are plenty of possible fixes to the problem, if only the developers and public opinion would allow them.
[h/t The Atlantic]