The Ladies Room


Yesterday, while traveling to TAM9, we stopped at a little town to use the restroom. When we pulled in, the parking lot was full and there was a line of four other women waiting to use the single-toilet ladies room. In contrast, the men’s room was unoccupied and the door was wide open.

While doing the “Gotta Go” dance, I asked if any of the women were going to use the men’s room. I got four mute head shakes indicating a negative. This was truly puzzling to me, so after I left the men’s room, I asked them why they chose not to use the unoccupied restroom.

The one older woman in the line told me “They’re usually dirtier”. The other three women nodded mutely in agreement. To my knowledge, none of the women had examined the men’s room. While the trashcan was overflowing, the rest of the bathroom was as clean as could be expected for a little hole-in-the-wall gas station. The ladies room appeared to be in the same general condition, no better, and no worse. Both were in need of cleaning, but, generally, the men’s room was not observably dirtier than the women’s restroom.

What I would like to know is this: It this a common perception? Do women generally think that the men’s room will be dirtier than the women’s room? Is this perception locale-based? In other words, is a small town gas station restroom generally considered dirtier than, say, a drug store bathroom? Is this ‘men’s room is dirtier’ bias based on only certain types of public restrooms or ALL public restrooms?

Could this be a gender issue? Is the men’s room for men only and the women’s room for women only? Of course these questions are only intended to apply to single-toilet restrooms. Why is it difficult for some women to simply use the opposite gender toilet? My husband has no issue with using the ladies room if the men’s is occupied. We both think that a toilet is a toilet and have no problem with using the opposite gender’s bathroom if our own is occupied. Yet time after time, women either hesitate or outright refuse to use the men’s room.

As for the men’s room generally being dirtier than the women’s, I can only speak from personal observation. I have seen ladies rooms that are cleaned regularly that are still dirty because even women or little girls “miss” sometimes. So I have to wonder if this is an unreasonable perception on the part of the women who won’t use a men’s room.

What do you think? Ladies, do you use the men’s room? Why or why not?  Men, what about you? Are there gender restroom taboos? I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.

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5 Comments

  1. Bret Hall said,

    July 13, 2011 at 12:13 am

    That’s mysandry for you, haha. Though, I’ve heard women say that they’ve found the womens’ restrooms dirtier before, so who knows.

  2. latsot said,

    July 13, 2011 at 8:50 am

    It depends where you are. In the village in North Yorkshire, UK where I grew up, the local pub toilets were like this:

    The women’s toilets were inside the pub, very nicely decked out with wallpaper, pot pourri, nicely laundered towels and hot water.

    The men’s toilets were in a filthy block outside with no towels (not even paper ones) and no hot water in the sinks. I don’t know how often they were cleaned, but it wasn’t very often. The urinal emptied into a channel that ran across the carpark (really) into the drain opposite.

    That’s a fairly extreme example (and was about 20 years ago), but a marked difference between male and female toilets in that neck of the woods was hardly unusual back then.

    In the last few years I haven’t been in many male toilets that disgust me. I think – in the UK at least – male and female toilets are mostly treated in about the same way.

    A tangent: until I was about 6, we didn’t have a toilet in the house. It was in a block outside, 100 yards or so from the house, and according to my older siblings it was where monsters loved to congregate at night. We had to dress to go to the toilet, take our own toilet paper, avoid the monsters, then wash afterwards in freezing cold water. This was only 30-some years ago.

    Heh, ‘only’.

  3. July 16, 2011 at 2:16 am

    I used to work at a pizza place in Jonesboro, AR. One of my duties, at the end of the night was to clean both bathrooms. Almost always, the women’s bathroom needed the most attention. From a man’s point of view, there’s nothing quite like a toilet trashed with maxi pads and used tampons.
    Shameless plug time; fledgelingskeptic.com and her husband will do a guest session on my blog http:// preregistered.wordpress.com in a few days

  4. Josh said,

    July 27, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    My first job was at a Chic-Fil-A, and like the last guy who commented, I also had to clean two sets of bathrooms almost every night. Actually, I just asked my wife and she said, and I quote, “Yes, women’s bathrooms are disgusting. Women are pigs, it’s fucking gross.” I can tell you from personal experience that almost every night the women’s bathroom was way dirtier, and I have four reasons I believe this is so.

    1) Women do much more primping and cleaning and makeup touching up and what have you. Not being a regular wearer of makeup, I am left to presume from observation (both at that job, and in my personal relationship with women over the years) that this requires several trees worth of paper products per woman per bathroom visit.

    2) Men use stalls less than half the time. We have the awesome ability to direct our piss stream wherever we want it to go, with admittedly varying degrees of accuracy. Never the less, urinals are easy to clean, require no touching in their use besides the flush lever, and eliminate my extremely scientific estimate of 75% of stall visits.

    3) Due to the male’s total biological failure at growing offspring from inside our bodies, you ladies are left with a few extra unpleasant bodily functions. Natural as they may be, they result in trash waste that is frequently disposed of in what seems, from the point of view of the bathroom cleaner, to be rather careless and haphazard. (ie: thrown blindly as if playing horse shoes in the dark) This means frequent, sometimes daily discoveries of a rather gruesome nature. What first strikes the eye as a murder scene, soon yields no corpse, but in it’s place a tampon or maxi pad that skidded happily across the floor and lodged itself directly behind the toilet after smearing a red tail of gore down the wall of the stall. Why that would be the preferred method of disposal is quite beyond me, but sure as the sun would go down and I would go trucking to the restrooms with a mop bucket and an array of cleaners, sure enough some testament to failed reproduction would be be waiting in the dark corners for me to discover and grudgingly clean up.

    4) Women are less tolerant of germs than men tend to be. I don’t think this is a sexist statement and if it is I apologize. The reason I have for believing this is what I like to call, popping a squat, or in this case, the unnecessarily filthy aftermath of popping a squat. It would appear that in most cases men sit on the toilet to poop, while women stand with both feet on the tank, hands braced on the top of their stall walls, and simply spray whatever needs to come out in the general direction of the toilet seat, resulting in a bathroom stall that mirrors the room from Saw. I mentioned earlier that we men folk were blessed with the ability to aim our urine, and so in this regard I don’t blame you for being incapable of pulling off a clean finish when popping a squat. I myself have used this method many times when stuck with a porta-john or a hernia of the colon as my only options, so I understand that extremely dire circumstances may force it upon you. However, if every single woman actually sat down to do their business, nothing would get on the seat ever. And honestly, wiping the seat with TP and then plopping your ass cheeks down onto a few dried speckles of urine probably wont kill you. If you know you’re equipped with a pee nozzle that has a spray setting and no stream setting, ruining that stall for everyone else that day is just rude.

  5. latsot said,

    July 30, 2011 at 3:57 am

    I haven’t exactly conducted a scientific study of this, but it seems to me that women tend to use the bathroom in bars and restaurants more often than men (presumably due to a smaller bladder) and stay in there longer (touching up make-up? Talking to each other? No idea).

    So you’d think they would want to keep it clean, really, especially taking into account some of the excellent points Josh made. I’d expect men to care a lot less about how clean a bathroom is since we have to touch fewer things and less often.

    On the other hand, of course, there’s a sort of unspoken formality of etiquette between men in bathrooms (no idea if it’s the same for women). For example, you have to stand at the urinal farthest away from everyone else. No eye contact may be made. Smalltalk is not encouraged. Perhaps this code of conduct also prohibits men from messing up the bathroom too much.


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