The Brutality Report - Inward Swinging Gents Toilet Doors
Here’s what we men know about women’s rooms. The toilets have been fashioned from pink Sicilian marble. The toilet paper – narrow bolts of perforated Persian silk – comes scented in either jasmine or honeysuckle. Portraits of Bella Abzug, Jane Fonda, and Angela Bassett as Tina Turner hang at eye level over flocked velvet wallpaper. Amenities include masseuses, concierges, swag bags, meditation chambers, and/or cuticle repair stations. String quartets are common.
Although I may have gotten a few details wrong, I can guarantee that women have far bigger misconceptions about our facilities, the rooms of men. Many women seem to believe that the harshest thing in the gents is the urinal, and all the public exposure/flying pee/mind games that these entail. This is incorrect. The real horror is our doors. 99.98 percent of all our stall doors swing inward, into the cramped space of the stall itself. Perhaps it’s the same in the ladies. Here’s what’s not the same: Women’s room stalls don’t resemble IRA prison cells that have been smeared with every possible form of biological liquid foulness.
Ponder the big picture for a moment. Public toilets involve no less than three miracles of design. First, there is that wonder of natural selection: the sphincter. Humans produce a set amount of sticky toxic waste every day; the sphincter sequesters this waste until a time and place of its owner’s choosing. This marvel of the human body is paired with a miracle of intelligent design, the toilet. Using no electricity, this device immediately and irrevocably removes the sticky toxic waste from our world for all time. The third wonder of human ingenuity is mass producibility. There isn’t just one toilet. There are many! They’re everywhere! Conveniently, most public facilities in the western world offer a wide selection of toilets so that we humans can work and travel far from our own toilets. Sweet, right?
Not so fast. Inward-swinging gents doors flatten this equation. To men of all ages, hues, shapes, and creeds, these doors say, Hold up bro. Need to do a two? Unless you’re the worst kind of public exhibitionist, you’re going to have to get through me first. And I’m not a cheap date. See that little space between the toilet and the wall? That’s where you’re going to have to fit your entire body if you want to leave enough room to then swing me back and get me locked. And, oh yeah, my lock may be broken. Watch out for that crusted liquid horror on the side of the bowl. Let’s do this.
Why, we men ask in a million private sobs to the Heavens, must it be this way? There is so much room for the stall door to swing outward. Even if the original gents toilet architect couldn’t see this, the guys who physically installed the first stall doors must have known and asked themselves, 'Why does it swing inward?' And yet we know the answer. The culprit is the cold logic of the balance sheet. Long ago, someone decided that insurance liability – the infinitesimal chance of an outward-swinging stall door smashing a bystander into a litigious rage – outweighed the dignity of half the world's population.
It’s a hard realisation when one is squatting in a cramped, horror-filled cubicle. But then there’s an even harder realisation, made tens of millions of times daily, in the stalls of gents toilets across the land. We have a much bigger problem than finding and punishing the entity that put us here: All of us still have to exit through this same door.