Thoughts on Urinals

I thought this would be an interesting conversation starter for a Monday.  My family will gladly discuss this topic around the dinner table.  I hope it enlightens you.

I first took note of urinal fear when a friend followed me into a men’s room.  I went to a urinal.  He went into a stall.  I’m not one to be nosy but it was obvious that he didn’t “sit down” if you know what I mean.  I thought to myself, “why would you choose to go into a stall when there are urinals?”  Urinals are great.  You don’t need to touch the toilet.  You don’t need to lift the lid.  You don’t need to look at leftovers from a previous user (I know women are always clean but men certainly aren’t).  Urinals are fast and less messy and they use a lot less water.  Why would anyone choose not to use one if possible?

Let’s start with some basics:  Urinals come in all different shapes, sizes, and style.  Some are floor models that come up about 5 feet; others hang on the wall and can be low for boys and short men, medium height for average men, and tall for umm yeah tall men.  Some have handle flushes; some are hands free;  some use water and the new ones are water less.  Yes, they have no water.  It’s some kind of gravity pull.  They work although I don’t know how.  The only other real option is that some bathrooms have dividers between the units and some are just open air models.  Yes, you can look down at your neighbors business but as you will see, it is inappropriate.  In some old establishments, they even have a “trough” – sort of a long bathtub kind of thing that the men all stand along to do their business.  Personally, I like the dividers but I’m not going to let a divider-less bathroom stop me from my right as a male to use a urinal.

Apparently, some disagree.  That’s what leads to the #1 fear: fear of exposure.  Some would say lack of privacy.  Some are embarrassed.  I guess some just don’t like being out in the open (literally).  I’m not claiming that it is my favorite spot but I hate lifting the lid and closing the stall door if I don’t need to.  The urinal etiquette (page 105) says “men need to look straight ahead and stair at the wall.  It is inappropriate to look down at another man’s private parts.”  Personally, when I catch someone looking, I turn toward them while still going and ask them if they want to see something while my urine hits their leg.  That usually stops the inappropriate behavior pretty quick.  Some restaurants have now started putting little TV’s above the urinal to give the men something else to watch.

#2 fear: The etiquette book also states that it is unfair to take up a stall when there is a urinal available.  For those of us who find the need to sit for other reasons, it is frustrating to have to wait until #1ers get out of a stall.  I mean really.  You are causing me discomfort for whatever reason you have for not using a urinal which has been graciously provided.  Those who suffer from irritable bowel know exactly what I’m talking about.  Waiting for a stall is dangerous.

#3 fear: Also stated, if you are going to use a stall for an illegal pee, you MUST either lift the seat or sit down.  Peeing all over the toilet seat and leaving it there is totally inappropriate.  I’m not talking about an accidental drip.  I’m talking about peeing with dark sunglasses on and not seeing where it is going!  Disgusting!

#4 fear: If you really have a phobia about going in the wild, then save yourself some shame and sit down.  That’s right.  Do a fake #2.  That way no one will know that you chickened out from the free spirit urinal and are hiding in a stall.  If you tend to be embarrassed, don’t ad more humiliation to it.

I did some research on the matter and found some other interesting tidbits.  For example:

A senator from a southern state put a bill before congress that was to state that urinals were for ‘whites’ only. However, this southern senator, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, or the brightest crayon in the box, goofed the way he wrote the bill. When the bill was passed into law it stated that urinals were to ‘be’ white only. The supreme court later determined that urinals were to be made from white porcelain and no other color of materials were to be permitted, they assumed that he wanted this for sanitary and hygiene reasons and not for the reasons he really intended. They also added an addendum to permit all stainless steel urinals as well. This would explain why I have seen pink toilets, avocado green and harvest gold toilets, but I have never seen a urinal in any color besides white. (http://yimengchang.blogspot.com/2009/03/history-of-urinal.htm).

The History Behind the Equal Rights Amendment, The Equal Rights Amendment  One argument used by detractors, such as Phyllis Schlafly, to erode support for the ERA amongst both men and women involved the alleged mandatory construction of unisex bathrooms, which would not employ urinals (Because Constitutional Equality is so Retro, Feministing, 29 March 2007). Cultural codes of privacy and gender division were too engrained with regard to the public restroom, and in the threat of unisex bathrooms opponents of the ERA found a wedge issue that resonated with both genders. Ironically, it was now the disappearance of the urinal, an object that had long stood as a symbol of male privilege and female exclusion, which constituted an imagined symptom of rapid change vis-à-vis gender relations. (http://www.popmatters.com/feature/126662-the-urinal-a-brief-functional-and-aesthetic-history).

These leads me to my summary:  Do men have the right to urinals when women do not have that same right?  Should we enforce equal privileges to both men and women and make all men sit down in a stall?  Is it unfair/mean/bullying to force boys and men to use open air urinals when they are embarrassed?  Does forcing men to use urinals cause emotional issues?  Does forcing men to use stalls create a kinder and gentler society?  How do we handle the unisex bathrooms?  How about transgenders?  Is it unfair for women and transgenders to be in the same room as a urinal?  We shouldn’t have “whites only” urinals.  Should we not have any urinals?  Should we create a Urinal Czar to oversee the dismantling of all urinals so that we have a fairer and equal experience in public restrooms?  Should we offer counseling to those who suffer from urinal fear?  Will this be a part of the 2016 elections?  I certainly hope so.  It is time for equal rights and compassionate government.

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About Brian Fulmer

Brian is the owner of Crossroads Property Management Inc. (www.crossroadsproperty.com) He writes six blogs and has written two books. He also works with various missions around the world. His first love is Guatemala.
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