(The picture above shows public squat toilets in Beijing, China. Source of image: Wikipedia)
Before, I disliked the idea of going into a public restroom(I still do), unless it was an emergency. But, my mother gave an assignment on this topic, after asking me “What is a public restroom, and do they exist?”, so I had to research it. While I did think the assignment would be boring, I have to admit I was intrigued at what I found out.
What is a public restroom?
My answer: A restroom that is available for everyone to use.
The term “restroom” usually refers to a public, commercial, or industrial personal hygiene facility designed for high traffic.
Now, let’s look closer at the word “restroom”. In most restrooms in the United States, there’s really no room to “rest”. When you go into a public restroom, like an airport for example, you can’t really be at ease and relieve yourself with all the hustle and bustle, compared to when you’re at home, where it’s quiet and comfortable. In my personal experience, when I had to go use the restroom in school during break, I remember one of the students banging on the door and laughing as I was taking a “number two”. I find it nearly impossible to relieve yourself in peace due to the lack of privacy in most restrooms.
Another issue in, again, the United States, there’s a lack of privacy in the majority of restrooms because of their layout. In the US, restroom stalls are built with large bottom and top openings, along with small gaps at the seams.
Public restrooms should have more privacy. Regardless of how they are built, people will do what they want. So if a crackhead decides to smoke crack in a public restroom, they’ll do it. Or take the Larry Craig scandal, where the Senator Of Idaho, Larry Craig, made advances on an undercover officer for sex. Larry Craig was observed by the the officer as he was lingering outside of the stall, and frequently peeking through the crack of the stall. Craig went into the stall next to his, tapped his toes several times and moved his foot closer to the undercover officer’s foot. The presence of others did not deter Craig in his advances, as he proceeded to swipe his left hand under the stall divider several times, with the palm of his hand facing upward.
The point is, no one can stop them. It doesn’t matter, so why should we sacrifice our privacy for something that rarely happens?
Do public restrooms exist(aside from the ones that are in rest areas)?
My answer: No.
While they may have the title “public”, restrooms that are found in many places, such as grocery stores, for example, aren’t really public. In reality, they are really owned by that store. They have the right to deny usage of their restrooms to anyone they deem are unfit. Meanwhile, the definition of public is: “open to all persons”. This doesn’t sound very public, now does it?
How are homeless people supposed to shower?
My answer: As it is now, they can’t.
Many restrooms also do not have bathtubs, so the homeless cannot bathe properly, or like how most people shower. Sure, there are shelters, but most cost money and are not open 24 hours. In Japan, however, there are public bath houses, called onsens, which are available for anyone to use, and can cost around 200 to 2000 yen($1.77 to $17.73). You could even be in street clothes, and still be allowed to enter. Some of the larger bath houses, usually in larger cities, are open 24 hours. I feel like the United States would benefit from having something like these onsens, specifically those that are homeless. While they may not have stable place to live, they would have somewhere to go and wash up for a reasonable price.