Women around the world are joining a movement to occupy — men’s toilets.
Fed up with long queues for ladies’, Li Tingting made headlines when she and 20 women marched into a men’s public toilet in the southern city of Guangzhou carrying colorful placards calling for equal waiting times for both sexes.
Her Occupy Toilet movement quickly spread to Beijing and Shanghai where leaders will gather next month for the annual meeting of the country’s parliament.
“We want senior officials to pay attention to this issue,” she told AFP. “It is a big issue for many women. During the protest in Guangzhou, we conducted intensive surveys and found that the majority of people supported us.”
“We gathered here not to forcibly stop men from using their toilet, but to arouse consciousness on gender equality for both women and men,” said one female student and an activist during the march. “But if the government does not comply, swiftly, we plan to occupy men’s toilets around the world!”
“The Americans occupy Wall STreet, the Chinese occupy toilets. This is very different,” posted one blogger under the name Huashuo Sian. Studies show that women take about twice as long as men in the restroom. The reasons vary, from the obvious (the need to secure themselves inside a stall, shed more clothes and use toilet paper) to the not-so-obvious (menstrual cycles and the increased likelihood, compared to men, of ushering small children).
Groups including the American Restroom Association and the World Toilet Organization view quick access to clean public toilets as no laughing matter. People with medical problems, including bladder or bowel dysfunction, may not be able to wait. Long waits can exacerbate other issues, including urinary-tract infections.
For years, women have most dealt with the consequences, if not the indignity, of waiting in long lines.
No more… Occupy Toilet aims to correct that situation, permanently.
“We want equal waiting time for toilets. If we have to wait longer than men, then more toilets should be available for women, or we should be allowed to use the men’s restroom,” said one Occupy Toilet leader.
New York City already passed a law in 2005 requiring that all new or significantly renovated places of public assembly — concert halls, arenas, Broadway theaters, stadiums and the like — have two women’s toilet fixtures for every one devoted to men.
But that’s not good enough. “We want three women’s toilet fixtures for every one devoted to men. That is what is the most equitable,” said Tingting.