Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Your Turn -- The Ladies' Room

I was pleasantly surprised at the number of comments my last post attracted.  Apparently you like my discussion of bathrooms more than my outfits.  :-)

Bathrooms are an essential part of modern life.  As such, they develop a culture about them.  Many of your comments raised points about women's rooms that were utterly unknown to me.  Like the idea that women might chat with a stranger in a public bathroom.  That's so odd to hear because men, in public bathrooms, never say a word.  Not a word.  They don't even look at each other.  They fear being drawn into a sexual encounter and don't want to give any signal that might be construed as inviting one.

I have a few questions.  First -- and this is something all men wonder about -- why do women go to the bathroom in pairs/groups?  Dining at a restaurant, when one woman rises, the others seem to instinctively need to go at the very same time.  This confuses men because, for us, the only reason you go there is to empty our bodies.

My guess is that women want to talk "backstage" about things they prefer not to discuss in front of the men.  Am I right?  Or do you fear monsters lurking behind the toilet?

Second, isn't it unfair that you have to wait in long lines at the Ladies' Room?  They should build more toilets for women to use so the backup doesn't get so bad.  Whenever I see a line at a theater or concert, it saddens me.

Third, have you ever seen a bold woman enter the Men's Room instead of waiting on that long line?  I have.  Then again, this is New York.  :-)  Do you believe it's okay to do this?

Given the popularity of this subject, maybe I should turn my fashion-blog into a bathroom one...


  1. LOL, I have to go read the comments on the last post, I read it and thought it was interesting, just didn't have anything to add.

    I can say for myself, if I go with a fellow woman to the restroom, it is usually to talk about stuff away from the "menfolk" so to speak, but I'll admit, sometimes if someone else says they're going it just reminds me that I need to. Or sometimes if it is somewhere I've never been before I'll go with someone else so I don't look silly looking for where the restroom is located!

  2. i have no idea why women go to the bathroom in groups--i don't think i've ever done it. i've always sort of wondered about that too. it seems kind of weird!

  3. Hahaha,... Don't be silly, people like to talk about unusual topics ;).

    Why do women go to the bathroom in pairs/groups? Well it really depends where that happens. Sometimes it's so rude men wouldn't bother 1 of them (you know how guys tend to become shy around more than 1 girl?), then it's the thing with 'will you hold the door for me?' - if it's broken.. then it's there the chit chat of course.. :). But mostly because going to the bathroom alone feels just.. weird. A bit of awkward if you're used to going in groups.
    I know I felt really self-conscious when I went alone to the bathroom and it was just a weird place.. I mean lots of women with their girlfriends waiting in the line.. if nothing else, you get someone to talk to while you wait.

    Well yes, they really should build bigger bathrooms for women - tho a lot of the new buildings have those..

    Well I went to the little boy's room when I was sick and tired of waiting, so I guess it's not all that weird :D.

    1. Thanks for your first point. That never occurred to me before. You educated me!

  4. I totally have the answer to your first question - the buddy system! As kids, we're taught that having a "buddy" makes things safe, on field trips, on trips to the restroom or office. It does double duty of allowing us to weigh in with each other, but it's really more of a security thing, I think, even if it's not something we're all actively thinking. It's a habit formed quite young that continues on, turning the bathroom into a place of gossip.

    I have definitely gone in the men's room before when the women's room has been inaccessible or really dirty. Though usually it's been at places that have the single-toilet bathroom and I make a guy friend check that it's empty. I don't really go to night clubs or crowded places, so I rarely face long lines.

    Also I think people like your conversation starters, you ask some really good on-the-nose questions and get us all talking!

    1. Thanks for the great answer. And I'm happy if I can get people talking.

  5. I think you and I have bandied about Erving Goffman before, yes? The whole idea of there being a "backstage" and taking steps to make it happen made me think of his work--it's a very literal way of concealing the "dirty work" that often accompanies womanhood. That said, I don't get the group bathroom trip at all! I prefer to take my own time, and I feel silly checking my makeup in front of other people so I'd rather just do it on my own.

  6. Well, I am not bold but I admit to having knocked on the door or a men's rest room and walked in. Think I have done it twice. I really needed to go :)

  7. It's one of those taboo topics that once someone breaks the taboo everyone is interested in talking in! I wish I had the guts to start one of these discussions one day, but I'm too scared someone will match up my blog + real life identities and hold it against me :)

    I've actually gone into the men's room to avoid queues but only if nobody is there, or at least nobody giving off creepy vibes...

    Another reason for the "going in groups" phenomenon, I think, is that when someone else announces they will go to the bathroom it brings up the thought "I should go now so that I don't have to go later when there's no opportunity" in most women. Or maybe it's like this effect where when someone else yawns you also have to yawn. Though that doesn't explain why it doesn't work for men. Overridden by social conditioning? Made unnecessary by anatomy? I could get into a speculative medical discussion here but it would involve icky details about UTI risks etcetera.

  8. Several reasons, to continue the conversation, do our make up, check out the bathroom to make sure its safe and clean. To fend off advancements from strange men on the trek to the bathroom, and more.

    Women very often move in packs--or pairs. Things a man might feel confident to do alone a woman might not even consciously realize she feels much more comfortable (read safe) going in pairs.

    There are two things a person raised as a boy might not understand and have to face if they transition to being a woman. These things suddenly become an issue. It is at that point safer to go to the bathroom with another trusted person, to avoid violence or rape, or even just general harassment. Its then safer to go a lot of places in pairs or troops. Bathrooms, vacations, trains, etc.

    This is not always conscious, or even internalized "fear" its possibly just conditioned and taught in by our mothers and other women in our lives. And really not every woman does it--but you are seeing it as a trend and safety is one of the reasons.

  9. I like going to the bathroom with other women because if I need a feminine product, or some mascara or lip gloss or a bobby pin or WHATEVER, I can ask someone I know before resorting to asking a stranger. Few things mortify me more than having to ask someone I don't know for a tampon. Also, it's nice to have someone to keep you company in the long line ;)

    And I have used the men's room before (after stationing a friend outside the door to stand guard). I have to say, in most cases I'd rather just wait in the long line!

  10. I know most women like to go to the bathroom in groups so they can chat - on the way to the toilet, while waiting in line, and even while ON the toilet. I hate that, though! I'm definitely a "shy" pee-er (and poo-er -- haha, sorry for the TMI!). I've never liked it when my other (chatty) girlfriends would join me to the restroom...I need my space ladies! Being the shy person that I am, I think I would hate having to use urinals...

    I do wish they put more stalls in womens' restrooms. It's not just that it takes us longer to undress and use the facilities -- but if you're caring for a child, it can take ages to help them use the toilet.

  11. I don't think that we go to the bathroom together to dish on the others at the table. We just like to gab and be together. Nothing more...for me, anyway.


    1. Well, there's more for me, Tracy. That moment we shared together, piddling in harmony? That was completely premeditated for my ultimate pleasure.

  12. I go alone. I've never liked going with group of girls into the restroom. It's just too weird! (Basically, I don't need to hear people I know pee. Simple as that.)

    And poet is right: it's a taboo subject, so of course we're all going to jump on it with beaucoup d'enthusiasm!

  13. Women like to have a place to gossip without men hearing. Some women's restrooms even have lounge areas for sitting around in, and this leads to more opportunities to chat without being in earshot of men.

    I hate the lines too, and I have used the mens room before when it was a single stall restroom. When there's only one stall, I really don't see why the distinction even needs to be made.

  14. Turn your fashion blog into a bathroom blog? What a crappy idea! (Sorry, but you asked for that.)

    Previous comments pretty much addressed the pairs thing. To chat. Company while in the inevitable line. To hit your buddy up for supplies of a wide variety of sorts. One saying they have to go reminds you you've been waiting, too. Sometimes, especially when out with a group, you don't want to go mid-conversation. So when someone finally admits they gotta go, everyone else (female) says, "Me, too." That's when all the men look at each other with the WTF look...

  15. So, I put this answer in the wrong spot. Now you know I catch up on all of your posts first and then go back to comment. :-)

    I love the fly idea. And the cake ad is great, too. Thanks for sharing. That's something I otherwise would never have known.

    Yes, I've seen women use mens' rooms. I actually did once, and will never forget it. My girlfriend and I were at a Scorpions concert. I was about 16, I think. We'd been drinking beer and really had to go. The line for the ladies was way too long, so we went into the mens'. There was actually a line 1-2 deep at each stall. When the guys saw us waiting, they actually started chanting together, "Let the cunts piss." Vulgar, but true.

  16. Since we often have to wait in long lines, having a friend go along with you gives you someone to talk to while waiting or to hold your purse if there are no hooks in the stall.
    I cannot tell you how many times I have had to wait in horrible long lines at the movie theater! I try to get out of a movie as quickly as possible to avoid that.
    I've never used a men's room, but I would not say that I wouldn't if the need was great enough.

  17. 1. I think it's more simple than that. I always have to go, so if someone else is going, I might as well just go with her as opposed to having her go, waiting 15 minutes, and then going myself. Saves on time. Right?

    2. YES.

    3. I do this a lot. I obviously get while they're separated, but why on earth am I going to wait 10 minutes in a line to use the ladies room when the mens is completely open?

  18. i would say most women go to bathrooms together because you have something you want to say in private. if i actually need to use the bathroom i prefer to go solo. lol.

    and nothing is worse than a 10 min line up when u really need to pee. its the worst!

  19. Ugh, long lines for the bathroom are the worst. But I have often struck up a conversation with a stranger in line.

    Many women's restrooms have lounges in case you need a break from the guys for a bit. It's nice to be able to talk without the men around sometimes, and it's quieter in the restroom than in the dining room of a restaurant.