Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Toilet Politics.

The problem, of course, with equality is: equal to what exactly? If a theatre provides the same number of toilets to women and men, a numeric equality has been achieved, sure. But during intermission, I can stroll the loo, empty the ol' bladder, grab a drink and, if the mood so strikes me, take another little piddle before going back for Act II.

Ladies, on the other hand, are for the most part in a race against time, especially in the older theatres around town. The lines for the women's loo at the Canon Theatre, for instance. Forget buying Mentos. Pee or have fresh breath. You cannot have both.

It seems that I spend many intermissions just waiting around for my female playgoing companions to get back from the bathroom. Just as well, I suppose. I never have anything to say at intermission. My mind's still on the show, but I don't actually want to say anything about the show until it's over. Preferably until it's been over for half an hour and all publicists and family members of the cast are well out of earshot.

Anyway, in England, Michelle Barkley of the British Standards Institution is proclaiming that the number of women's bathrooms need to double. From the Guardian:
"The regulations as they stand amount to sexual discrimination," she said. At the moment, the minimum number of toilets required at a venue is based on an equal male/female split of the largest possible audience. [Ed note: I don't know about London, but here in Canada about 57% of the theatregoing audience is female -- so equal split doesn't make sense in the first place.] But women end up queuing interminably because they spend an average of 90 seconds in the john, while men are in and out in 35 seconds.

West End theatres are especially bad. Tucked away halfway up staircases or behind the bar somewhere, toilets tend to come in measly ones or twos, and can usually be identified by the throng of grumpy-looking women wishing they were slugging their gin and tonic rather than spending the 20-minute interval in a line.
Yes, though at least in England you can bring your drink back to your seat with you. I really don't understand why I ever bother drinking at intermission in Canada at all. I always have to down my Scotch or beer or whatever while the bell is dinging or the usher is ushering me back to my seat...

But that's a whole other rant.

Yes, I think we need more bathrooms for women in the theatres! I come firmly down off the fence to make this position clear! More potties!

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