Yes, today I am breaking from my self-help norm to go into more of a rant mode (albeit, a very small rant). I must confess, as evolved as I would like to think I am, I have not yet arrived. I am a unisex bathroom prude. ”What,” might you ask, “is a unisex bathroom prude?” I am so very glad that you asked! A unisex bathroom prude is someone who just cannot wrap their heads around the idea of a unisex bathroom. (As a side note, I am referring to a unisex bathroom with multiple stalls and men and women using private stalls, side by side).
I watched Ally McBeal – I LOVED the show. They made the unisex bathroom idea look so cool, so hip, so easy. I work in a school, given that I work in a school, our unisex staff bathroom is most often frequented by women. We do not have the space to create a separate bathroom for the handful of men on staff, so our three stall bathroom is integrated for the adults.
I cannot do it (yes, literally and figuratively). When I am sitting on the toilet (pardon the details) I find it most disturbing to look down and find shoes pointing in the opposite direction in the stall next to me. I become frozen in the moment, unable to go any further (yes, literally unable to go any further) until the man in the restroom, whomever it may be, has completed their mission, washed their hands (I hope they washed their hands) and has left. Only then can I finish my business – the psychology of it all just kills me!
I like to believe I am highly evolved, so this prudishness came as a bit of a shock to my system. I find myself sneaking into the single bathroom stall in the nurses office so as to not have to worry about anyone of the opposite sex making their way into the restroom when I am there.
I have also personally made men jump when they walk into the unisex bathroom and see me (no, I am NOT that scary!) They jump for the same reason I do, they are not really psychologically prepared to meet a member of the opposite sex in the bathroom.
I am not sure this is a large enough problem to address, and there is little we will be able to do at work to fix it (due to budget and facility restraints I am all too aware of)… but, in the meantime, I work to scout out the entire area that surrounds the bathroom and find times to sneak in when the men in our midst are busy teaching and cannot possibly steal a moment to come in and use the restroom. If I walk in and see shoes in the stall in the “wrong” direction, I immediately leave and make a beeline for the private toilet in the nurse’s office.
Perhaps one day it will not matter to me, perhaps one day I will no longer be a unisex bathroom prude…… then again, is this something I want to get over?
Today, 85 days ’til 40, I am thankful for segregated bathrooms, even though I consider myself progressive!