Social Question

ibstubro's avatar

Why are Americans so obsessed with what's going on in public restrooms?

Asked by ibstubro (18765points) May 12th, 2016

Step back from the transgender debate for a minute.

Why are American toilet stall doors so short?
Is there something wrong with this? Or this?

Are Americans so afraid of drugs and sex in public toilets that they all must look like this, thus raising fears of unisex bathrooms being indecent?

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28 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

I say get rid of all the stall doors and in the mens room just have troughs instead on urinals and let the participants figure it out for themselves.

Rarebear's avatar

We’re not. Just a few wing nuts.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Couldn’t tell ya, but I really find it annoying and uncomfortable. Especially in women’s restrooms if the stalls are really old – because let me tell you, they were not designed for tall women. It’s uncomfortable if I literally have to avert my eyes because I’m 5’9’’.

Stalls are also really annoying when there’s really wide gaps after the door is closed. Thanks, I’d rather not have people stare at me when I use the bathroom or have to change a pad or tampon. Grrrr!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

This is just a wild guess, but the reason some public toilet stall doors/walls are above finished floor (AFF) level is two-fold: less material involved and less chance of premature deterioration due to water damage.

Plus, anyone sitting in a stall, male or female, is bound to need toilet paper. For those not savvy enough to check the supply before camping out, they appreciate the ability for the person in the next stall to anonymously pass on a handful without causing additional embarrassment.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

I don’t know. Why are Americans so obsessed with privacy? I don’t care if you see me from the knees down.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Because we have no other pressing issues.

Our journalists aren’t being beheaded by terrorists. All our POW’s have come home. Every single veteran is getting all the healthcare he or she needs. Our bridges and highways aren’t crumbling. Our nation’s credit rating is still A++ .We have no national debt. We aren’t inundated by hazardous counterfeit products from China. The Centralia Pennsylvania mine fire has been put out. New Orleans has been completely restored. Every job position is filled by someone legally qualified to work here. Every Presidential candidate’s Emails have been accounted for…

Pandora's avatar

Good point. But we are also land of law suit. If a kid gets trapped in a bathroom and the parent can’t slip under, I can see the lawsuits flying though our courts. I’v always liked the idea of a door that comes all the way down. But the reality is probably that the longer doors cost more and also for sanitary reasons.
I’ve seen what some people do to public rest rooms. The lower the walls on the side, the more likely someone would have to spend more time to clean the lower levels on the side.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m with @Pied_Pfeffer that it can be a good thing to be able to get TP from a neighbor. Lol. Running out of paper happens less now with the huge paper rolls. When I was a little girl it happened more often. Plus, not I’m not 10 anymore and I check first. I was just in a restaurant bathroom last week and heard a women ask her very elderly grandma, as the grandma entered the stall, “is there paper in the stall?” The grandma said, “yes, do you need some?” The granddaughter replied, “no, I just want to make sure you have some.”

Plus, if the doors are shut, it can be difficult to know if someone is in a stall if you can’t see their feet. The locks on the stalls aren’t great, sometime we rely on the door just staying closed without the lock working. There is les chance of someone walking into your stall if you are partially visible.

Fancy restroom have full doors that are made well and usually lock well. It is more of a pain to know if a stall is empty. You basically have to knock on the door like you would a single bathroom, or you just try walking in and the lock stops you if someone is in there.

I was just in a bathroom with frosted glass store doors. It was a very nice bathroom. Maybe when someone is in a stall you can tell by their outline? I don’t know, it was empty when I was there.

Most Americans aren’t obsessed with who goes into bathrooms, that’s partly why it’s a hot topic. A bunch of us are saying being worried about it and making a law is stupid. Mostly, people are talking about it, because the media have it some PR.

ucme's avatar

Religion, cheese, yada, yada, yada…

ibstubro's avatar

I heard someone theorize that the American puritan obsession with the possibility of people doing illicit things (sex, drugs) in the bathroom led to the abbreviated stalls, which led to the American puritan obsession with transgender people in the restrooms.

JLeslie's avatar

Well, up in the third floor men’s room in my Bloomingdales sometimes there were two pairs of feet in the stalls from what I understand.

si3tech's avatar

A better question: Why is the 98% of the country kowtowing to the 2 % of militant gestapos?
This has nothing NOTHING to do with civil rights! Let’s get a freaking grip here. It is not necessary to replumb/refixture the whole country/world to suit this group of individuals. Don’t think for one second it will make them happy. It will not. Now we have colleges telling students that saying there are two genders is a HATE CRIME!!!

JLeslie's avatar

@si3tech It’s more than 2%, but I do agree it’s a minority of people who are loud and who get laws passed. That’s the thing, the law. Once there is a law, then we need to address the stupid law or hope no one enforces. One or the other. If people are just loud and say hateful things that’s one thing, but making a law? That is a bigger deal.

Mariah's avatar

@si3tech Interestingly enough, trans people aren’t asking for the bathroom situation to be replumbed to please them. They’re mostly asking for things to stay the same (that is, for them to continue to be allowed to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable/safe in, which is what they’re already doing). It’s the anti-trans people who are trying to change the system by making it illegal for trans people to go into certain bathrooms. So what’s your real complaint here?

Dutchess_III's avatar

You know I think having one bathroom for all, with privacy doors like @ibstubro‘s links show, would be great. If you can lock the doors, it would be the same as a private portapotty, and nobody complains about the fact that porta potties are all unisex.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, it’s my understanding that other countries have (near) full doors on the restroom stalls, @Dutchess_III. I think they’re more concerned with basic privacy than they are with what that privacy is protecting.

And the TP sharing is a red herring. When is the last time anyone saw a removable roll of toilet paper in a public restroom stall?

Mariah's avatar

^ The roll doesn’t have to be removable. They can tear some off and pass it under.

JLeslie's avatar

@ibstubro Men obviously spend much less time in stalls than women. @Mariah is right, we just give a handful of TP to out neighbor if they need it.

Full doors are usually done in upscale bathrooms.

ibstubro's avatar

So, if the partition is at least 3” from the floor, you can still share TP?
You don’t need the partition to be a foot from the floor because you don’t have rolls of TP to share, anyway.

And you can pass toilet paper over the top.

JLeslie's avatar

No! 3”? We need to fit our hands under there, fists, and be able to reach while sitting on the pot! Lol.

dammitjanetfromvegas's avatar

We need to stand to pass over the top. That means dripping urine down our legs. Nope

ibstubro's avatar

Talk about perpetuating the stereotype of the airheaded/helpless female.

If the ability to share under the partitions is a requirement of women’s-use restrooms, then you can put me down as against unisex facilities.

jca's avatar

I like bathrooms with the full doors (usually upscale bathrooms as @JLeslie pointed out).

I always check to make sure there’s toilet paper before I start to go. I also usually have a napkin or two in my handbag which helps in many situations.

ibstubro's avatar

I agree, @jca.
Checking the toilet paper is so ingrained in me that I can think of at least three times this year that I’ve exited a [single fixture] restroom after peeing and reported the lack of toilet paper.
I didn’t need it, but there’s no toilet paper….”

ibstubro's avatar

The last line in that article, @jca:
“the administration’s peremptory approach is a counterproductive way to advance the important cause of transgender equality.”
pretty much covers my thoughts on the administration’s recent action on transgender students.

But, why are American’s so obsessed with what people are doing in the restrooms to begin with?
Is it really our business, if they’re not making spectacles of themselves? What if they are discreetly having sex or doing drugs? Isn’t a certain amount of that getting a pass in countries that have stalls that reach the floor?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I found this bit interesting: ” many transgender people actually experience indignity when using traditional bathrooms, and what is the nature of this indignity?

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