In battle of the bathrooms, women are still losing

Male privilege is the luxury of sitting at a hockey game, having to go to the bathroom, scooting up the stairs and into the men’s room to do what you’ve got to do, and getting back to your seat before the TV timeout is over.

Ask your female friend if that’s how it is for women at the games.

Photo: Julie Nason

Spoiler alert: It’s not, which is why there was so much pushback from women this month when the Edmonton Oilers turned a couple of women’s bathrooms into men’s rooms so as not to inconvenience the fellas too much during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“I go to the washroom that’s always the women’s washroom and it’s a men’s washroom,” Oilers fan Charlene Zacharuk told Global News earlier this month. “So we make our way three-quarters of the way around the building and the women’s washroom is 60 deep. There was no lineup at the men’s washroom that was previously the women’s washroom, so that made it even more frustrating.”

The team justified the move because the majority of its fans are men, it said, citing a survey it didn’t release.

This isn’t as much of a problem as it was in the United States, we learn today from The Guardian.

We also learn there’s such a thing as the American Restroom Association.

Robert Brubaker of the American Restroom Association said that most states in the US require new venues to have three women’s toilets for every man’s toilet. Older sports stadiums, which are grandfathered in and don’t have to comply with new building codes, typically have an equal number of toilets for women and men.

“They literally did this thinking they were helping women, but they found that 1:1 wasn’t enough,” Robert Brubaker said.

That’s because even when there are an equal number of bathrooms, there is still a disparity. As the New York Times pointed out when renovations brought relief for some female baseball fans, “potty parity” isn’t measured by having the same number of toilets – it’s measured by wait times. Equal speed of access is the key, Anthony argues.

Arielle Retting says when men are inconvenienced, the rules change and change fast.

In 2004, men had to wait longer because the rules were changed at Soldier Field in Chicago for Bears games. It didn’t take long for five women’s rooms to be converted for the use by men.

The issue is bigger than smaller bathrooms, she says.

“It’s indicative of the kind of hostile response that women often face in the sports world – that our needs don’t matter as much a man’s, and that we should just stay quiet and be thankful that we’re even allowed to participate.”

(h/t: Bob Hicks)