In California, we have bathrooms designed to help people with physical disabilities. It is weird to think there was a time we didn’t have grab bars, safety rails and nonslip flooring. Almost as if we expected people in wheelchairs to do the worm to shake their snake.
Now, the requirements are cooked right into the building code and if new buildings are not built in accordance with them, then forget it, pally, no certificate of occupancy.
I also remember when I had to scrub toilets at my first job in the United States and how the boundary between restrooms for men and women was invisible but unequivocally clear.
I remember the feelings of lawlessness when stepping into a private single-stall women’s restroom to take a leak the times a fellow man read the newspaper’s op-ed pieces when going number two, or more crudely said, when they read shit while taking a shit.
I would do my business fast and take my exit before any woman could see me using their sanctuary and if I ran into a member of the gender, I would look to the floor, run to my car and speed away, never to come back to that establishment.
Now, we are seeing genderless bathrooms with the appropriate genderless signage. Because our bathrooms, the place where we conduct the sacred business of relieving ourselves, shouldn’t be the battleground for gender politics, and no one should decide between who they are and who society wants them to be every time they go number one or number two.
We see all these supports for different groups in our bathrooms but we don’t see diaper changing stations.
They are not required by law. Since they are not required by law, business establishments, including large international corporations like Starbucks, choose not to have them. This leaves parents with the unfortunate task of figuring out ways to change their kids’ diapers in a bathroom that shouts, ‘parents of newborns and toddlers should never leave their house.’
Parents might take different approaches to solve this. For example, my wife puts her diaper mat on the grime of a pee-sprinkled floor, where I instruct my two-year-old not to move while I change her diaper standing up.
Neither works and both leave you feeling degraded as a parent.
The bathroom design and building code reflects what we believe in our society. The fact that most restrooms don’t have changing tables (especially men’s restrooms) clamors of a society that does very little to support new parents. When they do, they mostly believe that women should be the ones doing all dirty parenting deeds.
Parenting newborns and toddlers is a transitory task. Even though they think they don’t, most parents forget how hard it is to deal with babies and toddlers that still depend on you for everything. I don’t blame them. Why would anyone want to remember the hard parts of these glorious times?
I can’t wait to get to a point when I don’t remember them. I’m also scared that I will forget it as it might make it likely that I would go for the third one of these little shitlings.
Having kids is, at his heart, an individualistic pursuit. We pursue a desire to have a family to feel the biological and unconditional love we feel for our kids. You could say that it makes sense for people not to get support from anyone. After all, nobody is telling you to have kids.
But having kids is essential for everyone’s community.
All economists will say aging populations are concerning for various reasons. There is no workforce replacement, there are not enough people contributing to our retirement schemes (I mean, funds) and there are not enough people around to hear ‘when I was your age’ stories.
We don’t have enough people contributing to our inverted retirement pyramid because more and more geezers refused to die. I mean, medical and technological advances are helping people live to 100. Which I think is lovely. I want my parents and my in-laws to live as long as possible. More importantly, I want to live as long as possible.
But the support of all those fantastic advancements depends on our population’s replacement rate and why people would replace kids right now?
When my wife and I toured my daughter’s new school, we saw we were surrounded by parents who were at least ten years older than us. We had kids in our mid-thirties, making these parents in their mid-forties.
This might be a phenomenon only relevant to California. After all, it takes a lot to get established here before you get to a point where you feel stable enough to have kids.
That stability is each parent’s responsibility. Because as a society, we don’t do enough to provide resources for people to have and raise kids. We don’t offer assistance; we don’t offer mental health resources, we don’t offer care before kids are six years old, we don’t offer health care. They are all a parent’s responsibility.
Suppose you want to have kids in this country, and you have no help around you from your parents or other people in your community. In that case, inevitably, someone will have to renounce their professional development.
Unfortunately, that typically ends up being women.
And that’s how toilet politics is also related to feminism because a society that supports all parents allows parents to have and raise helpful citizens without sacrificing anyone’s career paths, especially not women’s.
Some people argue that change starts at home. But in this instance, change begins in public restrooms.
This was supposed to be an answer to Jess the Avocado’s 250 words prompt. It ended up being more. You better join. All the kids in school are doing it.