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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Would you welcome unisex office toilets?
Unisex toilets are apparently the latest in "office cool", and are currently being tried out by city workers in London.
There are no urinals in these "loo emporiums", so men have to queue alongside their female colleagues. A new etiquette will be needed to combat rows about men leaving the seat up and women hogging the mirrors.
Some say spending a penny in a mixed environment will inject an air of camaraderie into the office, like in the US hit comedy Ally McBeal. But what do you make of it?
Does the idea of sharing your office toilets with the opposite sex fill you with dread, or do you think it would be good for office relations? Maybe your company has already installed a "loo emporium". Tell us what you think about communal conveniences.
I don't think it's a bad idea if it is done right. If there is a single room per occupant and the wash area is shared that would be no problem.
I am still a pupil but I think unisex toilets are a good idea. It may not be as horrible as people think. When I was out in a club recently, I had to go to the men's toilets as the line for the ladies was too long. The men in the bathroom were quite civilised about it and they didn't seem to mind sharing the toilets. I would hope to think that in the future men and women will be able to accept the fact that toilets are the one thing that we can share.
All this in the name of equality? We already are equal. Men have toilets. Women have toilets. Where is the issue?
It works fine in our office. It's just like having a bathroom in a house.
A night-club I go to has a unisex sink area, a nicely carpeted clean open area which men and women get to use and it works fine. There are two doors at the end, one to the men's toilets and one to the women's, thus keeping privacy on the delicate issues. It has worked extremely well, there are never any queues for the toilets and the sink areas are kept clean and there is a really relaxed atmosphere. By merging the washing areas the club has much more space for sinks and mirrors.
Vicky Skyle, New Zealand
In a small office I can see no reason why the practice of sharing the toilet should cause any problems. The problems begin when you are working in a factory environment when there are about 300 employees wanting to use the toilet in their 30 minute meal relief.
I think we should adopt a Japanese style "stream"
of running water that man, woman and child can
squat over. Additionally closed-circuit cameras
can be installed and televise activities in the working
area. This to satisfy the voyeur in us all.
Come on now! Get real! Where is your sense of decency? Or reality? Men and women are different and bathroom privacy between the sexes should be maintained
For all of those women who say we leave the toilet seats up - what do they do? They leave the toilet seats down! I think it would cause more arguments in the office than bonding!
Maureen Carden, Scotland
Surely there are better things to worry about. A unisex litter tray in the corner of the office would certainly cause more consternation
You can't be serious. Any pervert can stand on a toilet seat and look over the cubicle wall while a woman is sitting on the toilet. Give us some privacy please.
Bad idea. Women will get smelly toilets and men will get stuck with long queues. Look in any night-club at midnight - there will be a queue in the women's and none at the gents. Hell, I'm selfish but I have no intention to queue 10 minutes for something that takes 20 seconds.
I think it is a terrible idea, both in terms of hygiene, like most women I hate the fact that men make a mess, leave the loo seat up and also in general men toilets smell.
I lived in a dorm in France with unisex
restrooms and there was never a problem.
It's more logical since sometimes,
there' a very long line for the ladies'
room and no one in the gents' room
and vice versa.
I am all for unisex toilets, but I think that the designers have overlooked one key problem...
How will the women be able to use the urinals?
On occasions I have taken the brave step of stealing into a ladies loo because it was more "conveniently" located during an 'emergency'. Invariably I would come face to face with a lady(!!) as I stealthily re-emerged. Surprisingly they would always smile it off with a look of knowing compassion. One woman even passed me some toilet paper once. Women don't seem to worry as much and knowing men they ought to. But one thing: will women want to abandon ALL the old customs? How about "ladies first"?
Most definitely not! I can't think of anything worse. The idea will no doubt go down the same route as the mixed hospital wards idea several years ago - a complete disaster with the result that they are all being segregated again. Keep toilets separate!!
There's a remarkable selfishness in those who say "Women have to queue so why shouldn't the men?"
Men's toilets with urinals = little or no queues. Women's toilets without urinals = queues.
The simple fact is urinals are clearly more efficient. Maybe some should be designed for women to use - yes. it can be done - so there'd be no queues in the Ladies either.
No way!! My husband and I had had separate bathrooms before we moved here. Now we are thinking of constructing a new one at home in order to keep this practice. I don't like sharing toilets with the opposite sex, since it is one of the very few places that we can keep our own identities. Girls take up more space and time in the loo, due to our natural needs. It's the way God has created us. I don't think it's a good idea to have a man in the next cubicle, knowing my physical condition and what I'm doing from the sound I make. Just imagine!
Great idea! It's the best way to keep it clean and full of toilet paper for us guys.
Go to any nightclub and you'll find women in the men's loos from opening time onwards. We do not have segregated toilets, we have unisex and just for women. They all smell bad. What we really want is to be able to control our bladders for long enough to get home to our own personal toilet that no one else is allowed to use!
Share with woman, I think not. I feel sorry enough for the blokes I work with, having to use the same facility as me after a night out and a curry.
I do not see what all the fuss is about, so what if males and females share the same facilities as long as privacy is respected. The UK can be very Victorian in its approach to attitudes sometimes
It works in Ally McBeal, so why not...
What's the big deal? Of course, there should only be one toilet for all. Get on Eurostar and go to Paris. There is no problem in the public unisex conveniences. They are quite nice, well maintained be a woman who "directs" traffic and allows for a casual, relaxed attitude to
Most definitely not! This equal rights thing has gone way too far, the thought of public toilet is bad enough... are there no areas sacred enough for men and women to be separate. There is nothing worse than trying to use a public toilet but to share with women ... no way!!
No one had any problem, the main issue was that us men were astonished how nicely they were decorated: carpet, nice paint, chair to wait in, framed mirrors, flowers etc. How nice.
How disappointing to find that when re-opened, the men's loos now had fresh linoleum on the floor and a few tiles replaced. Double standards indeed.
I would welcome unisex loos, if it meant the end to sex discrimination when it comes to decoration, maintenance and hygiene.
Andrew J. Chisholm, UK
As far as I am aware, separate toilets are a legislated bylaw requirement in the UK. Is this not just another example of how big business is "above the law" in their penny-pinching pursuit of profit?
The thought of using the same toilets as blokes is nauseating. My answer is NO!!!! (sorry guys)
I can't think of anything worse. It's bad enough knowing that a man in the office has made that terrible smell in the loo but to then think that it may be a woman would be very disconcerting. Gentlemen view women as being clean and fresh. To change that view is taking equality to the extreme. We may share loos at home with our loved ones but that is a totally different affair.
Have been sharing a loo with three colleagues for over four years.
Not a problem, it's just like being at home, plus they are respectful in leaving the toilet seat down "most of the time"
We also take turns in making sure it stays a clean environment.
Our leisure centre here in Andover, Hampshire does have one of these unisex "Changing Villages" and everybody seems to get on with it just fine with no problems at all.
I, like no doubt many men, suffer from "service station fever", which for you women out there is the inability to pee when somebody is stood right next to you. I welcome cubicles as it may also encourage extra "flirtation" without office gossip!
The only thing I'd worry about would be the smell. Men's toilets are notorious for it. Would women really want to be confronted by this on a daily basis?!
I can't say as I'd really mind using a uni-sex restroom but I would really miss the urinal. It's so easy and quick, couldn't they just put 3 or 4 against the far wall?
My wife thinks this is a disgusting idea, not fit for civilised discussion. I however, think it's grand and that unisex toilets should be mandatory and enforced by the equal rights commission. A great idea.
Last week my company moved to new offices with separate toilets for male and female staff. We'd had shared facilities for many years due to lack of space and money. By far the most relieved (no pun intended!) at this change to single sex toilets were the men in the office. Although, I have to be honest and admit that I didn't like being overheard by men whereas with women I don't mind. Have no qualms about sharing beyond that though.
Guy Barrington, UK citizen in USA
If such restrooms will include both urinals and seating toilets, it will make virtually no difference. Each woman (as well as any man who wishes or needs to) will be in a separate cabin, while only men will have the opportunity to observe each other urinating at the urinals (unless a woman would like to stop on her way to a toilet cabin and observe the scenery herself). After all, do we go to restrooms to stare at each other or for particular business?
I would love to know upon which tablet of stone is it written that the seat must be left down. If it's down then a man has to lift it up. If it's up then a woman has to put it back down, that's only fair. But no. Females want the guys to lift the seat AND put it down, as if "down" is the default position.
So here's a tip, blokes - put the seat down and put the lid down too. Then they'll have to lift that up. So while they're at it, they might as well lift the seat, eh?
Mark Laurence Scott, Brit in California, USA
Matt Hobbs, US
Imagine a bloke's loo with the smell of perfume or air freshener - how improper! And by removing urinals you will eliminate the opportunity for men to exploit their wonderful gift of directable pee (consider the fine sport of "chase the fag end", as mentioned by Dan, UK). Shock horror!
This is a very very bad idea, I live with boys and work in an all male office, I know what they smell like and I have the aftermath at home - please don't make me suffer it at work also........
I've encountered unisex toilets in my Halls of Residence at University. Although it was disconcerting to start with, I've found it quite liberating.
For a start, I couldn't bear the myth of the "fairer sex" being exploded, so to speak, and secondly, I certainly wouldn't wish the aftermath of eight pints and a Vindaloo on man or beast, let alone a lady.
Sam Fuller, UK
Personally I don't mind either way - but here will be trouble from the urinal industry.
National urinal sports such as "chase the fag-end" and "how high can YOU pee" will be lost forever.
Fifty percent of Britain's famous toilet jokes will be lost for all time.
Inevitably some men will wet the seat through failing to lift it before urinating. The only solution I can see to this is for seats to be spring loaded to keep them in the "up" position when not in use.
Fail to see what the problem is really. I can see that women would be less than keen mind. Although they complain about us men not having the decency to put toilet seats down when we've finished, will they have the decency to put them back up, when they're done???
Apart from the gross smell - there are usually wet splashes on the seats and surrounding floor of the toilets and a staggering selection of newspapers/magazines strewn on the floor. What is it with men and reading while on the loo?
I have already put in an official complaint to the bosses - who incidentally are hardly ever in the office themselves and therefore rarely have to actually use the toilets.
Sharing the office loo?...Big Mistake¿HUGE!!
It's about time men have to queue in the same way as women! - they might appreciate what we have to go through! As for hogging mirrors its questionable as to who would be doing the hogging.
All in all I have no problem with the idea.
My office is right next door to the ladies loo, but I have to do two flights of stairs to get to the men's! Inevitably I will nip next door if I need a quick pee, though some women can get quite upset to find me in there.
My company is planning the interior design of our new building - all the toilets are unisex. Why? Simply, to save cost; Central London office space is extremely expensive, do we really need to double the space used for toilets?
I have recently stayed in the Officers Mess at many Military bases around Australia, Army, Navy and Airforce. They all have unisex toilets and showers. They are completely private. If the traditionally conservative Military can do it, why can't the rest of us?
Rebecca Drane, England
I for one hate urinals. My company does not have any, and I don't miss them. My pet hate is to see someone in the hand-wash area when I go out of the cubicle, and I don't care whether it's a man or woman. I don't mind the idea of loo emporiums, but please, real full size doors, not traps.
What's the fuss about? You share a bathroom at home. It can save space. We know men pee, they know we pee so it's not exactly destroying some great mystique!
Not very environmentally friendly with all that extra flushing. At least men's urinals are more efficient in that respect. Perhaps the side effect is a stronger odour, but the tampon disposal unit is altogether much worse in my limited experience.
Randloph Coldicott, UK
Very bad idea. Why take away the one last place where a guy can "adjust" himself without women looking on and tutting. Also spare a thought for the poor souls who would have their desks in the reclaimed space that used to be the Gents.
If you rent a house with friends, you all end up using the same loo. Why is it that the idea of doing exactly the same thing with offices is such a problem? Everything will still be behind closed doors, after all.
Sarah Blake, UK
What a non-issue, I would have no problem sharing. As for keeping everyone separate what nonsense we all know what happens when we go to the toilet. I don't want to appear ageist but I would imagine older generations would find this more of a problem.
I can't say I like the idea of queuing to get a good seat - something that seems to be more prevalent with female toilets. Plus, women appear to favour sharing more than men - I really don't like the idea of sharing my throne with anyone.
Let's be realistic here. A male office worker comes in on Monday morning after a typical over-indulgent weekend of three course meals, beer, fine wine and kebabs. Can you really envisage a situation where he emerges from a cubicle after "seeing a man about a dog" (I know a lot more euphemisms, but this is the BBC, so I'll be polite) and say to the departmental secretary powdering her nose "Phew, I'd leave that for a few minutes if I were you love"
Added to which, the peer pressure from (usually) more hygienic females will probably encourage the (often) less hygienic males to wash their hands!
No!!! Definitely not. Why on earth would any woman want to share bogs with men, most of whose ideas about basic hygiene would be unacceptable even in mediaeval times!
Bad idea - you get perverts in the office environment too.
Although, I have also been in a few women's toilets myself and I am usually disgusted at the state that they leave them in. I don't mind sharing the sinks but definitely not the mess!
Karl Hall, UK
And as for the sounds and smells, I'll leave that to your imagination. I can't imagine any women in their right mind wanting to have to endure that!
C Thorpe, England
Probably very embarrassing for the ladies when they need to use the vending machines for essential items. I can imagine the comments spreading round the office by the immature males.
What's the big deal?
I'm sure the cubicles all have doors and nobody will see anything that they shouldn't.
I believe that many will suffer discomfort as they attempt to save their "natural breaks" until after office hours. People will dread the going to the toilet knowing that the opposite sex can hear.
The sexes share the toilets at home so why not in the office. As for team building? No, it sounds more like cost cutting with only one toilet to maintain and clean rather than two.
I'm sorry to say the toilet habits of many men leave a lot to be desired. We have had some very unpleasant behaviour to deal with in the male toilets in my workplace and I wouldn't want those to be inflicted on women as well!
I don't like having to share the toilet with some of my male co-workers! I can't imagine women would want to. The Ally McBeal scenario is ridiculous and totally unrealistic. Except in a small shop, of course, where there is only one toilet, but that's a completely different environment from an office.
I worked in Norway for most of last year, and all the loos in the office building, and a good many in the night clubs were communal/ unisex. Personally I have no problem with it, and in the UK have been known to - along with female friends - use the gents, as the queues at the ladies were ridiculous.
The whole idea is ludicrous - certain bodily functions should be kept private and single sex.
I have worked for about 6 London-based companies over the last twelve years. Only one of them had different loos for the two sexes. There just isn't enough space!
Can't say it really made a difference either... no-one ever regarded unisex bogs as an "issue".
What a load of horse manure! This idea comes from people who have nothing else to do, and who have obviously not realised that men and women are different. We need to pity them and the idiotic managers who "manage-by-trends". What a crazy country we live in!
Ed Cook, England
What do people gain from sharing a toilet?
If the only advantage is that it's somewhere to bump into each other, surely the company would be better off having coffee breaks to get people to mix, or encouraging people to chat to each other.
Is the toilet really the best place for this?
Well, it will at last provide an opportunity to answer that oldest of male conundrums: Do women actually flatulate?
Totally ridiculous. One of the few benefits of being a man these days is not having to queue for the loo especially after Friday's liquid lunch.
All in all an extremely bad American idea.
I don't think we should get too overexcited at this, comparatively speaking single sex toilets are a new idea, where does a Mongolian nomad have a pee? Do Eskimos have a boy's igloo and a girl's igloo? I think not, rather than this being a new concept we're really reverting to type, the only thing that worries me is the whiff that I get whenever I pass the gents and is absent in the ladies! This worries me more than whether the seat is up or down.
Big deal! We all have unisex toilets in our homes so why should there be any problems with them elsewhere??
Men are notorious for bad targeting and if they also do not have the decency to lift the toilet seat, it will become a wet disaster for the ladies. I cannot imagine ladies sharing a man's urinal, again in view of construction reasons.
Furthermore, I have never seen any queues at the men's toilet but always with the ladies. It is quite normal that the ladies also "powder their noses" which appears to take most time. So, one entrance fine, as long as we keep clearly signposted doors for men and women with the usual services and tools.
Han de Min, Netherlands (now UK)
May I ask a simple question? Such as Why?
What is wrong with what we have now?
The toilet is probably the last place left that both sexes can have a politically incorrect conversation and not be reported or harassed by the office Do-Gooders !!.
Leave well alone, Unless it means we to can have soft toilet paper and good soap.
I've encountered unisex toilets in various places, but yes, some men urinate on toilet seats. On most occasions it doesn't bother me, but it's disgusting for the lasses.
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