f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

June 14, 2005

potty parity in NYC

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 12:09 pm


originally let’s talk about restroom equity (June 14, 2005)


One week ago, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a so-called “potty parity” law, a/k/a

The Restroom Equity Bill of New York (“REB”).  [NYNewsday article, “June 6, 2005; Mayor’s

Press Release; All Things Considered audio, June 10, 2005] 

  • In the name of gender equity, REB requires new bars, concert halls, arenas, stadiums,

    auditoriums, dance clubs, and meeting halls, as well as existing establishments that

    make extensive renovations to provide twice as many bathroom stalls for women as for men.

Brooklyn Council Member Yvette C. Clarke was the bill’s primary sponsor.  Clarke is quoted in a

NYT feature article saying “To me, this bill goes beyond toilet significance.  It goes all the way to the

issue of gender equality, and quality of life.” (NYT, “Time for a Bathroom Break, With No Waiting,

June 10, 2005)  




Although our prior discussion of potty parity (two years ago today, and last October) has

been rather tongue-in-check, I want to be a bit more serious with this post.  It may be time for

males to stop turning the other cheek — before the serious struggle to make both genders equal

under the law is turned into nothing more than an assertion of women’s political clout.    Over

a mere handful of years, “potty parity” went from the reasonable request for “equalizing excretion

opportunities” — having the same number of toilets in the Women’s Room as there were toilets

plus urinals in the Men’s Room — to demanding the “equalization of waiting time.” (cf. Harvard

Alum. Bulletin, “We Are Where We Excrete,” Summer 2003).


My computer — which may have a better knack for self-preservation than I — has twice

crashed while I’ve been drafting this post.  Since the topic seems to be coming out only in

drips and dribbles, I hope you won’t mind my doing it in a mostly-blurb style.


mountain village–
a temporary toilet
in blossom shade


              ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue


  Just like male pols:  REB demonstrates to me that women in politics can behave just as

poorly as men — sponsoring special-interest legislation, using hyperbole, Orwellian terminology, 

and misdirection, while paying little heed to the cost or inconvenience to other, the damage to future

applications of the principle being asserted, and the existence of far more important problems to

solve.  That’s especially true when, like here, men let them.

Hyperbole & Misdirection?  Here’s what passes for a Declaration of Legislative

Findings and Intent under REB (emphasis added):

Almost every woman can recall waiting in a long line to use the

bathroom, while there was no comparable line for a neighboring

men’s bathroom.  According to studies by Dr. Sandra Rawls on

patterns of behavior in the use of bathrooms, it frequently takes

women twice as long to use the bathroom as it does men.  Under

the City’s Building Code, however, places of assembly must provide

equal numbers of women’s and men’s water closets.  This ignores

the reality of the different bathroom usage times of men and women.


The 2003 International Building Code requires approximately

twice as many water closets for women as for men . . .


The lack of equality between men and women results in the continuation

of inconveniences seemingly directed at women.  The Council is seeking

to address this disparity by enacting this legislation.

I will give Council Member Clarke credit, she toned down the Declaration from her

2003 version, which found that “Every woman can recall” a dreadful wait on line,

and then voiced outrage by asserting that “the absence of sufficient women’s

bathrooms in many places of public assembly, and the resultant lines for women’s

bathrooms, is one of the most blatant, demeaning, and visible forms of gender

discrimination in our society. ”   [Like, OhMyGod!!]


smelling like sake
smelling like piss


      ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue



As for the facts, the Legislation cites a study showing that it frequently takes

women twice as long to use the bathroom as it does men.  Is this due solely to

biology?  Well, citing the same study and one other, GWU Prof. John F. Banzhaf

III (who Clarke herself calls “The Father of Potty Parity”) admitted in a 1990 NLJ

article, “Final Frontier for the Law?”:  

“They attribute their longer stays in part to having more clothes to

manipulate; having children with them; or taking the time to comb

their hair, adjust their make-up, smoke or just talk.  But because

none of these is an immutable sex-based characteristic, it may seem

unfair to some — and may, to others, constitute discrimination against

men — to provide men with smaller restrooms that have fewer overall

facilities simply because many females want to talk, primp or smoke

in restrooms.”

Rascals might point out that women often go to bathrooms in pairs or groups (just

for the company) — a behavioral pattern rarely seen in men, but one that sure would

make lines and waits longer.


rain delay

the length of the lines

at the stadium restrooms


Ed Markowski from games (pawEprint 78, Nov. 2004) 


Beware Ms.Information and Weasel Words:   When the Restroom Equity Bill was

introduced in June, 2004, the sponsors stated:

“The 2003 International Building Code

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