News and Commentary

Gender-Conscious Portland Bans Something From Men’s Bathrooms In City Building
Public washroom or bathroom sign marking the facility is to be used by men.
Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

The city of Portland apparently has a gender problem with bathrooms.

According to KGW-TV, the city decided when they remodeled the Portland Building that urinals would be banned. Last February Chief Administrative Officer Tom Rinehart emailed employees:

We will continue to have gender-specific (male and female) multi-stall restrooms that are readily available to any employee that prefers to use one. But, there will be no urinals in any restroom in the building. This will give us the flexibility we need for any future changes in signage … I am convinced that this is the right way to ensure success as your employer, remove arbitrary barriers in our community, and provide leadership that is reflective of our shared values.

Radio talk show host Lars Larson told KGW, “I think it’s ridiculous. First of all, I know that it already makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Secondly, its gonna take up a lot more space and third, anyone who’s ever been to any public event — have you seen the line at the ladies room? Do you see any line at the men’s room?” Larson pointed out that urinals use far less water than toilets.

KGW reported, “The building’s 1st, 3rd and 15th floors will have large multi-stall bathrooms that men and women will use together. Other floors will have separate men’s and women’s bathrooms. But every floor will have at least one any gender bathroom. Overall there will be 42 ‘all-user stalls’ as the city calls them and 104 gender specific stalls.”

Over in Paris, France, there’s an entirely different perspective on urinals. The Daily Wire reported in April 2018 that Parisians were upset with their city government because it installed completely exposed urinals around the city. CNN noted that nearby signs pointed out the presence of the urinals. The urinals have floral displays on top of them that contain straw that can be changed into compost for use in parks and gardens.

The city offered a statement regarding the urinals in which it said:

The interest of this new urban furniture lies in its mobility, ease of installation and use, as well as in its ecological dimension. … The uritrottoir, an intelligent pissotiere, makes it possible to compost and grow flowers. Unlike a classic urinal type “shells,” urine is valued through a first filtering with straw, limiting unpleasant odors. Straw and urine are then collected and composted, allowing the recovery of naturally occurring nitrogen and phosphate in large amounts in the urine. Ultimately, this device allows the urine to return to fertilize the plants.

The designer of the “Uritrottoir” claimed the urinal was an “eco solution to public peeing.” Local mayor Ariel Weil argued, “If we don’t do anything, then men are just going to pee in the streets. If it is really bothering people, we will find another location.”

Gwendoline Coipeault of the French feminist group Femmes Solidaires offered the feminist perspective: “They have been installed on a sexist proposition: men cannot control themselves (from the bladder point of view) and so all of society has to adapt. The public space must be transformed to cause them minimum discomfort. It’s absurd, no one needs to urinate in the street.”


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