Privacy in the Restroom? Not at the Showcase Mall Food Court!

Categories: Opinion

Interior of the Showcase Mall Food Court at 3785 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas where men, women, boys, and girls routinely use the same restroom at the same time.
Interior of the Showcase Mall Food Court at 3785 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas where men, women, boys, and girls routinely use the same restroom at the same time.
July 3, 2011

Men, women, boys, and girls using the same restroom at the same time?

In another country, I might expect it.  But not in America.  Not even in Las Vegas.

This is apparently not only common at the Showcase Mall Food Court at 3785 Las Vegas Boulevard South in Las Vegas, it seems to be encouraged by the food court employees and management.

When I first visited Russia, I soon learned that most public restrooms had an attendant, almost always a woman.  It's customary there for the attendant to follow a man into the men's room, and immediately start cleaning up after him.  That's not the custom in America, and I kinda like it that way.

But, apparently, our customs, "they are a-changin'."  Big time.

Today, I went into the Showcase Mall Food Court located on the Strip near the Coca-Cola Store, M & M World, and Gameworks, among the most family-oriented places in Las Vegas.  While I was there, I went to use the men's room.  The door was propped open and a woman was standing outside the entrance to the men's room staring in.  I thought that was odd, but, hey, it's Las Vegas.

She was looking into the men's room because her young daughter was using it.  Even stranger, I thought.  There were other men, boys, and a female Dairy Queen employee using it at the same time.  Some were in private stalls, others were not.

I waited until all the women and girls left before going in, and I closed the door behind me.  There was no lock on the door.  As I was finishing, the same Dairy Queen employee (did I mention that she was a female?) burst in without hesitation or even a hint of a knock.

"I left my cell phone in here," she proclaimed.

I objected, but she ignored me, continued in to retrieve her cell phone, exited, and went back to the Dairy Queen where she worked.  (As if that's not bad enough, she didn't wash her hands, either, but I'll get over that since I don't eat at Dairy Queen.)

I immediately went to the Dairy Queen and asked to speak to her supervisor.  The employee, Chevelle, insisted she didn't have a supervisor.  When I asked for the contact information for a supervisor or manager, she either refused to provide it or, as she said, she didn't know how to contact the supervisor.  (Her supervisor later told me she knew how to reach him.)

"He's supposed to be here at five, but he's always late, so I don't know when he'll be here," Chevelle told me.

I waited.

Showcase Mall Food Court exterior sign at night.
Showcase Mall Food Court exterior sign at night.
Some time after 5:00pm, Derreck Nash, the owner of the Dairy Queen, approached me and we talked.  I expressed my concerns, and he made several asinine claims:

  1. The "code" (apparently referring to the Clark County Code, the laws that govern Clark County where Las Vegas is located) requires the food court to prop open the doors so security officers can look in, without having to enter the restrooms, to make sure there are no homeless people camped out inside.  This is what Nash told me!
  2. It's common practice, Nash said, for men, women, boys, and girls of all ages to use the same Showcase Mall Food Court restroom at the same time - with the doors propped open - and private activity clearly visible to the countless visitors, including children, who passed by or entered.  Chevelle and another food court employee told me the same thing.
  3. When Nash's employees left the Dairy Queen space to go to the restroom, he didn't care which one - men's or women's - they used.  As far as he was concerned, during the time any Dairy Queen employee was away from the actual Dairy Queen space, they were no longer Dairy Queen employees.  They were on their own.  Therefore, he said, I had no legitimate reason to lodge a complaint with him or Dairy Queen, especially since I didn't make a purchase at Dairy Queen.  In fact, Nash told me he didn't care which restroom anyone used, and he felt he and the other employees had no obligation to try to enforce any commonly accepted moral rules regarding the use of any restroom, not even those where he was a business owner, when it came to gender assignment.
  4. The "code" requires the food court to provide restrooms for its customers.  (That, I believe, is true.)  That means, according to Nash, that while one restroom is being cleaned, the food court must, by law, open the other restroom to both male and female visitors.

Of course, there is no such code that requires any business to prop open restroom doors at any time.  And, of course, Nash could not quote the code, produce a copy of it, or even reference it.

"You can find it online," he insisted.

You can't, but if you want to look for yourself, knock yourself out.  Here's the link.

Showcase Mall Food Court exterior sign at night.
Showcase complex exterior at night.
A security officer who needs to check any restroom for any reason can open the door and, if necessary, go in.  (If it's a male security office and the women's restroom, he needs to take necessary precautions so that he doesn't invade anyone's privacy.  Same for a female officer and the men's room.)

They can't do that, Nash claimed, because the code requires the food court to leave the doors open.

According to a maintenance crew representative, the doors are routinely propped open because, she said, they sometimes find people inside the restrooms having sex.  She said, per her supervisor's instruction, maintenance props the doors open so "they" can always see inside the restrooms without having to actually go in.

Here's my opinion:

  • With rare exceptions, males should NEVER enter the women's restroom, and females should NEVER enter the men's restroom.
  • A restroom door should never intentionally be left or propped open for any reason if private activity is visible from outside the entrance, especially where there might be children present.
  • If a single restroom is to be shared among the two genders, there should be a lock on the entrance door so that anyone who goes inside can lock the door behind them preventing others, especially those of the opposite sex, from entering.

Here are two examples of possible exceptions to the first rule:

  1. There are no males on the maintenance staff; a female maintenance employee is assigned to clean the men's restroom; that female employee confirms that the men's room is not occupied or being used; the employee closes the men's room for cleaning (hotel guest room attendants, i.e., maids, generally block the entrance to a room with their cleaning carts); the employee enters to perform her duties; and the employee immediately leaves when any man, for whatever reason, enters the men's room, even if it is closed and clearly indicated.  This is not only for privacy reasons, but for the employees' own safety.
  2. A mother has her young son with her; he needs to use the restroom, but he's either too young to go by himself, or the mother feels it isn't safe to allow him to go alone; the mother takes her young son into the women's restroom with her. (Hopefully, she would take him into the privacy of an enclosed stall.)

If any restroom at the Showcase Mall Food Court is closed for cleaning, visitors have two reasonable choices that will ensure no one's privacy is violated:

  1. They can wait five minutes (according to the maintenance crew representative) until the maintenance crew has finished, or
  2. If they can't wait, they can use the neighboring Gameworks restroom.

Since Chevelle had already been inside the men's room, left her cell phone there, exited, and then returned to a closed door, she had two very reasonable options:

  1. At the very least, she could have and should have knocked first.  Loudly.  She should have then waited until the men's room was no longer occupied before entering to retrieve her cell phone.
  2. A more reasonable solution would be to simply ask any male - there were dozens around - to go into the men's room and retrieve her cell phone for her.

Nash rolled his eyes when I made those suggestions.

When I asked Chevelle why she was in the men's room to begin with, she told me a member of the maintenance staff told her to use the men's room while the women's room was being cleaned.  But the maintenance crew representative I spoke to said none of the staff would ever tell anyone to use either restroom.  It's entirely the user's option.  In other words, the Showcase Mall Food Court management, business owners, managers, and employees seem to have no objection if females use the men's room, or males use the women's room, even if both males and females, children and adults, all use the same restroom at the same time.

But what about those of us who object to sharing the restroom with members of the opposite sex?

"There's nothing we can do about it," says Nash.  "People litter all the time.  We can't teach them not to." (Nash was apparently using littering as an analogy.)

I strongly disagree.

If, without complaining, we allow people to do wrong, and if management of businesses make policies and procedures that allow and/or encourage wrongful behavior, yes, it makes it very difficult to teach people right from wrong.  But we can, and we must, let others know when they've done something wrong, especially when they don't seem to recognize it themselves, as Chevelle failed to do.

Chevelle did something seriously wrong.  She should have never entered the men's restroom while it was occupied and being used by men and boys.

Showcase Mall Food Court has done something seriously wrong.  They've made it common practice to allow and even encourage employees, business owners, and customers to routinely violate the privacy of countless others.

I believe the majority of Showcase Mall Food Court customers, and Americans, for that matter, would agree with me.  Most just don't want to waste their time complaining.  Neither do I.

I spent almost one hour in the food court trying to get the name of the person with whom I should lodge my complaint.  At around 5:30, Nash finally gave me the first name, Stephan, of the director of the food court.

I hope to speak with Stephan this week, and update the story as it develops.


UPDATES

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - I arrived at Stephan's office in the food court a little before 7:00 am.  Food court employees told me he didn't usually arrive until 8:00 or 8:30.  I waited until 7:15, then left.


Thursday, July 7, 2011 - I arrived at Stephan's office in the food court around 8:30 am, but the door was locked and no one answered.  I called the mall management office, but got only a recorded message (8:38 am).  A security officer refused to direct me to the mall management office.

"They won't meet with anybody unannounced," he told me.



User Comments:
Jim Krause - Jul 31, 2011 03:01:18 — Wow, that is a crappy policy. I can see both sides of the story either way but I am curious as to what you have against the Dairy Queen? It appears that the owner you mention was the only source of information for the food court...does he own the food court also and created the policy? You sure beat him and his employee up in your opinion. You should title your comments...public bathrooms and the hatred for Dairy Queen. Serously though, what does the employee saying her "OWNER" coming in late @ 5 pm have to do with multiple sexes using the restroom together? Why include those rants when they seem to not have a bearing on the problem. Why no more updates....the month is over. I can't believe this is still happening.
Jonas - Jul 31, 2011 01:06:56 — The sources were the employee, Chevelle; her supervisor, the Dairy Queen owner, Derreck Nash; and a maintenance crew representative, who I agreed not to name.

No, Nash doesn't own the food court, and he didn't establish the policy.  But, in my opinion, he is directly responsible for the behavior of his employees while they are on duty.  His argument that the employees are not on duty when they leave the Dairy Queen property to use the food court restroom doesn't hold water.  I believe Nash should have disciplined his employee.  Both Chevelle and Nash should have acknowledged that what Chevelle did was not acceptable.  Instead, Chevelle and Nash defended her actions.  Chevelle's argument was that she was not going lose her "$400 phone".  Nash's argument was, basically, that he didn't care.

I "beat him and his employee up" because they are the bad guys in this story, Chevelle by her actions, and Nash be defending her.  According to all the sources I spoke with, the real bad guy is the mall management (although all the employees seemed to believe that while the mall management had established a bad policy, they were more than willing to go along with it).  Nash narrowed it down to Stephan, the director of the food court.

When all this was occurring, I did expect someone along the line to try to turn blame and focus back around onto me.  You, Mr. Krause, aren't the first.  There were people in the Dairy Queen line who felt getting their ice cream was far more important than Chevelle providing me with contact information for her supervisor.  I apologized to those customers, but there were dozens, and not one said I was wrong on the principle point?  Would you?

I mention Chevelle's quote regarding her boss' late arrivals because it was part of a pattern of lying.  Chevelle clearly tried to avoid giving me her supervisor's contact information because, I believe, she knew she had done something wrong and she didn't want to get into trouble with her boss.  That's normal behavior - nobody wants to lose their job, especially in this economy.  But lying is also not acceptable.  Before finally providing me with contact information, which I insisted she write down, Chevelle had told me 1) she didn't have a supervisor or manager, 2) she didn't know who her supervisor was, 3) after admitting she did have a supervisor (the owner, Nash), she didn't know when he would be there, and 4) she said didn't know how to contact Nash.  Nash denied this, saying she did know how to contact him.

I included information about the entire event, from my perspective, because this is my website, not [insert your favorite news agency here].  I created this website because it was the only way I found I could express my side of many stories, starting with an unjust 2009 felony charge against me that was, after a two year battle, dismissed.  In this story, I've tried to be as accurate and fair as possible, and I visited the mall twice and called several times over the following week in an effort to give Stephan a chance to express his side of the story.  But management at the Showcase Mall locks themselves behind closed doors, and makes it difficult for customers to reach them.  And, like I said in the story, I really don't want to waste my time on this.  Several weeks have passed because A) I've been busy doing things that are more important to me, and B) I haven't decided how to end this.  I think my best bet is to simply send a letter to Stephan and the Showcase Mall management office expressing my concerns, and never go back.

In addition, on all of my pages, I provide the opportunity for every visitor to submit his/her comments, as you did.

Since Nash is the owner of this particular Dairy Queen, and not the Dairy Queen corporation, I haven't bothered to contact Dairy Queen.  Maybe I should, but I would expect them to tell me this is a food court issue, not a Dairy Queen issue.  I would agree that it's not a corporate Dairy Queen issue, but it is a Dairy Queen issue in the sense that it was a Dairy Queen employee who blatantly violated the privacy rights of guests, and the Dairy Queen owner who defended that employee, and excused himself of any responsibility whatsoever.

In addition of returning twice to speak with Stephan, I did go back to the food court one other time after this incident.  I had told a friend about this, and she didn't believe me.  We went down there together, and she saw with her own eyes.  She passed the men's restroom, which all females must do in order to get to the women's restroom.  Both men's and women's restroom doors were propped open, and private activity was visible to all guests, including children, passing by.

Like I said, I did apologize to the Dairy Queen customers for the delay in the line.  But that would not have happened if Chevelle had simply given me the supervisor's information to begin with.  I didn't hear Chevelle or the other Dairy Queen employee apologize to the customers.  I believe Nash spoke to at least one customer, and my guess is that he would have apologized to him/her.  But I will not apologize to anyone else for what I've said, done, or written.  The truth is always the best defense, and I've done my best to document it well.

Thanks for visiting, and for caring enough to submit your comments!
It was an accident - Dec 5, 2011 01:31:28 — The first thing I have to say to you is that the name of my boss was the first thing I gave you and i simply told you I could not give you his phone number and that he came in at 5 so you could wait for him , which u did and made me feel like a hawk stalking his prey while you staired at me making everyones ice cream so when u said that I said "1) she didn't have a supervisor or manager, 2) she didn't know who her supervisor was, 3) after admitting she did have a supervisor (the owner, Nash), she didn't know when he would be there, and 4) she said didn't know how to contact Nash. Nash denied this, saying she did know how to contact him" it was a total lie and i was not scared of losing my job so you didnt in anyway "beat me up" i barely could finish high school ,that was my main focus working shouldnt have even been on my mind, but now im doing good Ive graduated and I am on to college to be a nurse and maybe even one day a doctor so I can help people and save lives. I do hope your happy though i did lose my job at dairy queen and now I shall prosper. I appologized a million times that day and i guess this is one more(even though I know if you really wanted something and you worked hard to get it I know you would probably run to get it too), but it is also a thank you cause from every experience even if it is a loss I always try to gain something or atleast learn something.You did teach me to love myself and never let anyone intimidate me,you really taught me alot of things that day ,but I cant make the teacher to proud ;)hehe.Oh and I really dont understand why you got mad when you were walking out of the bathroom when I went in, but I also appologize for "violating you" or whoever i violated when the guy in the restroom when i did appologize said he understood and the other guy brought me my phone but I wish you the best and wish you could go a little easier on people oh and may god bless you... Sincerely, I just wanted my phone...
Jonas - Dec 5, 2011 04:45:58 — Thanks for your comments, Chevelle.  I hope it helps everyone understand the story better.

The bottom line is that men, women, boys, and girls should not be using the same restroom, public or private, at the same time.  Showcase Mall management, Stephan, Derreck, you, and many others don't seem to want to acknowledge this.

A member of the Showcase Mall management staff told the maintenance and security departments that it was okay for everyone - members of both genders and all ages - to use one restroom while the other was being cleaned.  Although at least some mall employees I spoke with disagree with the management policy, they all seem to go along with it, and even encourage others (like you and the customers) to go along with it.

No matter who says it is okay to blatantly violate the privacy rights of others, it is wrong to do so.  The mall's policy is bad for both privacy and security reasons.  Embarrassment is only the tip of the iceberg.  Mark my words: if the policy isn't changed, it is only a matter of time before disaster strikes - a sexual assault, violent altercation, kidnapping, or worse.  The mall has opened the door, both literally and figuratively, to catastrophe.

Despite your apologies, which I accept, you still don't seem to recognize that what you did was wrong.  You started your comments off with "It was an accident".  What you did was no accident.  You knowingly and willingly went into the mens room both when the door was propped open, and later after the door had been closed and only men were inside.  For you, it had become routine behavior.  You seem to be obsessed with material possessions (your cell phone, in this case), and are totally ignoring basic rights of humanity.

You are better off not working at Dairy Queen or in the Showcase Mall.  With every closed door, you'll find other doors of opportunity open.  One door that has opened to you is the chance to advance your education, which will do far greater good for you and countless others than Dairy Queen could ever do.  I wish you the very best in your efforts in school, and to create for yourself a brighter future.

God bless you.
That doesn't make sense - Apr 27, 2012 01:28:37 — I never heard of such a thing. As you said, it was a woman with a little girl so the mother should have taken her into the ladies room. Why would they be in the men's? Now if it was a little girl out with her FATHER, then they could go into the men's room. But only because the father is with her and she's a little girl. It's generally accepted for little kids to be in the opposite restroom. But adults should not be unless they are cleaning it or something as you said. Which I hope there would be no one in it while they are cleaning it if the cleaning person is the opposite gender.
Jonas - Apr 27, 2012 03:16:04 — Thanks for having common sense! You're right - if a child is too young to go into a public restroom alone, some reasonable accommodations must be made. But I would not classify the young girl in this story as a "little girl". My best guess was that she was 10 to 12 years old. Unfortunately, someone - maybe an employee or her mother - told her it was okay, and she was naive enough to believe them.
That's way too old - Apr 29, 2012 04:16:48 — It's usually considered all right and overlooked until the child is aware of the differences between genders and has knowledge of being in the other restroom. As to what age this is can be uncertain because it may vary to each child. But probably at school age, 5 plus. Yes, 10-12 is not a little girl.
It all makes sense - Oct 2, 2012 06:05:00 — Im going to appologize for all my typos now LOL. First of all this is Chevelle I came back to this website because its gonna really help me right now, but anyways. Jonas you are insane to clarify your story a little more, when I went to the bathroom to use it NOBODY was in there with me. It only took me about a couple minutes to return back in that time I did not see a little girl with her mother coming out of the restroom and when I barged in a man actually came in before me and he was the one who went into the stall and retrieved my phone I did not go in the restroom while other men where in there and you in fact as you stated where coming out of the restroom when I opened the door and stood there to ask for my cell phone. I felt as if I did no harm because I saw nothing. I dont know if you had a bad day, hell you probably have a bad life, but its people like you that make it hard for people like me. Forget I ever appologiuzed to you cause now I have realized how much I belitted myself and I let you belittle me. If a woman has to use the restroom and the womans restrrom is occupied in any sense a MAN should give to a WOMAN. And in this sense the Men gave the restroom to the women not once were we all in the together. I honest to god understand what you mean by a woman and a man should not use the restroom at the same time thats just wrong, but a man needs to hold his pee if a woman has to go sorry. You just have no life and thought you had a story cause it all sounded good, and as you stated lying is wrong, but your one of the biggest hypocrites that I have ever known(and technically I dont even know you) cause this is all based upon lies to make a story. Are youtrying to be a reporter? I never meant to blatantly violate the privacy rights of others and you know that. Another lie you told the people in line did agree that you where out of line, because if you were ear hustling as much as you needed to the story got told, and they knew as much as you knew that I didnt deserve that treatment and that I meant NO harm. Yes I did willingly and knowingly do what I did, but I had to urine and I forgot my phone shit happens, move on and get over it. You say you didnt want to waste time on the subject, but time, effort and energy, has already been wasted. You know nothing about me so for you cant tell me where I was better off working. Well anyways I gotta get going I have to go to school and by the way Im taking up Psychology. I love all people I just need to find out what makes people crazy like you. DUECES
chaz - Oct 19, 2012 10:36:49 — I work with a female on a cleaning crew for the town i live in and she is constantly coming into the mens restroom. It makes me very uncomfortable and i do not know what to do or call aboit it cause she is well liked by management and i don't want to lose my job over the whole thing. But its very uncomfortable to say the least.
Jonas - Oct 23, 2012 11:37:57 — Chaz, if you ask to speak with your supervisor(s) privately, and can express your concerns with even a little bit of diplomacy, my guess is that they'll side with you. Yes, there is work that must be done, sometimes by a member of the opposite sex, but there should always be some etiquette about how to get that work done without invading the privacy of others, or making others uncomfortable. If it were a male employee regularly going into the ladies room, you can bet he'd be fired in a heart beat. You need to stand up for your rights which, in this case, are more than reasonable, and be willing to sacrifice your job. I know it's easier said than done, but who are you? What principles do you believe in? If you are truly opposed to such disrespect, you must make it clear to those who have the authority to change it. But to help preserve the respect of your employer, do it as politely as you possibly can.
OhioNative - Dec 29, 2012 12:37:11 — In Ohio theres a place called Riverbend. Its an outdoor music venue. Always way more women then men. The one place, the mens room. For every 25 Guys, theres 2to 3 females. There accepted and by most encouraged. I understand "its a family place" but its; Vegas. Anyone who brings a minor to Vegas for whatever reason, probably couldnt pass a parenting test. Take them to So Cal. Or Disney. If it was any other place but Vegas I'd support you. However Vegas is a Vice City, toughen up or wait until online gambling is legalized and do it from the privacy of your own home and your rules.
Jonas - Dec 29, 2012 02:10:23 — First of all, thanks for caring enough to write.  What you've described happens all over the world, not just in Riverbend.  But from my experience, women generally ask permission first (sometimes assertively), and they use the mens facilities only in an emergency, not simply because the ladies room is temporarily closed while a new roll of TP is being installed.  But I gotta disagree on your advice.  We, society, need to recognize right from wrong everywhere - not just in the good parts of town.  We need to recognize that when a lady, or children, are in a bad situation, gentlemen make reasonable accomodations.  But we don't just toss all rules of ettiquette, privacy, and security out the window simply because men are expected to "toughen up".  Thanks again, hope you had a Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
Pandora - Feb 4, 2013 09:06:37 — Hello Jonas! I'd like to share my opinion on this issue and gender segregated restrooms in particular.

The societies this day and age (Americans being on the top of the list) had accepted some kind of specific thinking and views on many things which are now no longer being subjected to a reasonable review and taken as granted much like T.I.N.A. (there is no alternative) way.

But luckily there is an alternative and we could change things for better if only we (or rather our ruling governments) would like to.

There are two equal sexes: male and female and we all are human beings, have the same bodily needs, are equal in dignity so why do we need restrooms segregated by gender? You said "...males should NEVER enter the women's restroom, and females should NEVER enter the men's restroom" and I'm asking why?

In many places in Europe there is only one coed restroom for both men and women, boys and girls (and yes at the same time) and no one makes much ado about it.

There usually aren't urinals so men along with women use cubicles. As for the privacy, it seems to me, you use double standards according to gender of a person.

Let me explain - you seem to be representing a view, that the privacy or lack of it depends on the gender of the person sharing the restroom with you. So you are male and if there is other male or males - you have your privacy no matter how they would try to catch a glimpse of your private parts by the urinal gazing strangely at you. making rude remarks (there are also gay people round there), but yes you have your privacy they are all like you - male, everything's fine.

I think there is an innate quality of competing and comparing to other men in men, it is also true as it goes to size of one's manhood. In men's lockers no one would admit they look and compare but they definitely do it. Now imagine situation similar to the event you had described: you are standing at he urinal and all of a sudden a woman enters, looking normally at you for a second, no emotion, no surprised looks, no drilling gaze down your pants, maybe gentle polite smile and passing you by to the stall. After you had finished your business you wash hands side by side and go out. Why do you think you wouldn't have privacy then? Only because of the gender, because of the person of the opposite sex? It is deeds and acts of people that should be judged not the people themselves, thus there should be no difference in your sense of privacy, 'cos as I tried to portray in this hypothetic situation above there can be indiscreet men full of lust to the same sex and discrete normal women that would pass you by paying no attention to private parts. Suppose the woman did pay attention to your manhood and show no emotions how different that would be if she were a man. What are you afraid of? Being compared to others? Or there is one assumption you have that no woman shoudd see your private parts and it makes no difference if she pays attention or not? After all what privacy one should have in public restroom?

I think you Americans are obsessed with nudity and this gender issues, it's totally paranoid sometimes. If someone gets caught peeing outdoor it's felony: indecent exposure (to who?). Look at Scandinavians - they have coed family saunas, they shower together (men, women, children of both sexes) and nothing's wrong with them. Because we are all human and only these crooked laws imposed on us or kind of political correctness made it to the present state.

Not so long ago there were separate restrooms for black and white people in America, why? Maybe because some white people didn't feel comfortable being observed by black people while doing their business? I don't know.

Again, we as modern society have basic problems with distiguishing what is crucial and important and what is not. Count please, how many funds could have been saved if there had been one coed restroom for both sexes, if only we could leave behind our irrational thinking and behavior.

As a summary:

1. Both men and women can use one restroom at the same time.

2. Sense of privacy doesn't depend on if a person is of opposite sex but rather depends on how this person reacts (e.g. Suppose I've a diarrhea and go to the ladies room and there go these funny noises and all and I'm hearing to all this giggling of my female participants sharing the restroom with me, so I go out blushed and they throw me looks "You funny cow" Do I have my privacy being a woman among women? Definitely not. The same situation but instead of female there are male participants acting as if nothing peculiar has happened. As I go out they don't seem to notice me, paying no special attention to me, they wash their hands, dry and go out. Did I have privacy this time? I think I did. So once again no gender but acts of a person determine my sense of privacy.

3. There is wrong assumption that children should be kept away from nudity and especially nude persons of opposite sex. Tell me how is it that children brought up with nudity treated as not a big deal in certain situations (lockers, showers, beach, at home) are normal (e.g. without perversions) and maniacs and pervs usually are those, whose parents were very strict about it (no nudity at all at home, son can't see his parents or even father naked) it leads to kind of paranoia and perversion, because this natural state of being naked around family or close friends is a sign of trusting each other, a sign of openness children need to develop right attitude to the surrounding world. People in most countries seem to be obsessed with paedophilia - I bet if I tried to make a photo of a 6yo boy, because suppose he had special quality (not sexual) I would get arrested under suspicion of paedophilia (that's crazy but such things happened in the past). Being accustomed to nudity and opposite sex makes people more humane and it teaches respect to opposite sex. Look at the relations of sexes in Islamic countries - they have clear separation men from women. Women cover their faces, their curves their beauty - why? Because men want to dominate women there they should be like slaves not interfere with politics, with social life, closed at home with other women preparing meals or nursing babies while men can do anything. Look how many rapes there are or violent acts (men against women) - a couple of weeks ago there was an incident of 23yo girl gang-raped and killed - why? There's no nudity in this country there are no pornography, so why? I tell you - because innate basic instincts can't be held in all the time and the women there are not considered partners but inferior "race" a man can do anything he wants with, even rape and kill - that's sad. Again, if boys and girls were not separated but played with each other and had more natural approach, seeing each other naked sometimes they would get use to it and had normal sane attitude towards each other. But repressive system and customs of these countries mixed with religious believes add to this sick reality. I also opens the gate to make money on nudity and pornography. Check this out: a young man or woman that was growing in total lack of experiences with nude people (friends, parents, etc) is dying of curiosity how the opposite sex person looks like or even how do they compare to persons of the same sex so they search the internet for nude, pornography etc. It's very sad. I bet if one day it would be prohibited for say dogs to go out uncovered, naked (they would have to wear something) after some time we would be having nude pictures of dogs or even dogs pornography on the black market and some people would spend their money on it wanting to see a naked dog and others would make millions on it.

4. I think perceiving oneself as a sexual object accounts for having these issues with opposite sex around while being naked or in a restroom. The less we see ourselves as sexual objects the more we can understand and feel good around persons of opposite sex. The example might be I participated in pilgrimage that lasted 3 days. During long walking there were some stopovers by main road that we made to rest. Imagine that these christian people of strong faith didn't have any issues to go behind the trees or bushes and relieve themselves. Men women, young children of both sexes were doing it alongside, no one was hiding felt excessive shame - everyone was doing their thing and considered it normal in these conditions (no proper toilets available) no sexual context.

5. As for a common obsession with nudity there is something I can't understand in behavior of some men and women. At the swimming pools or communal showers some women take shower in swimsuit their sense of privacy is stronger than a care about own hygiene. It makes me wonder: If you don't want to take off your bra because you think your breasts are too small I (and other women as well) can see it, 'cos bra doesn't cover size or shape of a boob it covers only the skin. And how different is the skin of a breast from the skin on your belly that is not covered? So why are you so reluctant to take it off? Maybe it's for the nipples - well people have noses of different size, eyes, ears and so on, why is covering nipples so important to you?. Imagine a girl of 16 with small breast and imagine a man well-fed or obese with chest similar to woman's breasts, when he has no shirt on it's normal, when she has not shirt or bra on it's indecent even though she has breasts similar to her male peer. When you think you have a large bottom I see it no matter if you have your pants on or not so what are you so ashamed of?

So the bottom line is I don't see anything wrong with men and women using one toilet or even changing room. I know it would take some time to get used to it but I think it would be for the better. People should respect each other more. Why don't we stigmatize hatred, vulgarity, violence, wars for no reason, killings instead of stigmatizing nudity. Bare breast of some celebrity is front page news - it's sick. So much for my opinion.
Jonas - Feb 7, 2013 09:36:36 — Thanks, Pandora, for taking soooooooo much time to write!    ;)

Since you referred to "you Americans", and you seem to dwell on European culture, I'm guessing you're European.  I love Europe, I love the European people, and I don't want to be rude, but I don't give a rat's patootie about what Scandinavians do in the sauna.  My article focused specifically on American culture, and I made that crystal clear in the second and fourth paragraphs, so much of what you wrote is completely irrelevant.  Frankly, Americans don't look toward European culture as the model to emulate.
"That's not the custom in America, and I kinda like it that way."
Like most liberals, you are taking exceptions and trying to make rules of them.  My article refers to a busy family- oriented shopping mall with two public restrooms - one clearly designated for ladies, the other clearly designated for men.  This has nothing to do with race, funding, nudity, getting caught peeing outdoors, fear, sex, a nipple in a swimsuit, or any of the other unrelated factors you injected.  You are muddying the waters - confusing the issue strictly for the purpose of trying to convince others that all men, women, boys, and girls should be required by the government to use one common restroom whether they like it or not.

You "don't see anything wrong with men and women using one toilet or even changing room", so you want to make that the rule against the wishes of the rest of society.  There are exhibitionists, and there are introverts, and there are those in between.  There are men and women who will not use a restroom unless it has a private cubicle with a locking door (that means men who won't use urinals).  Neither you nor the government should try to re-define "privacy" for anyone.  You're certainly not going to do it for me.

It is, at the very least, strange to me that you almost insist on using facilities with members of the opposite gender.  Most Americans would say there's something wrong with you.  Some would go as far as to say you're sick and need professional help.

On the bright side, you end up making some excellent points, e.g., people should respect each other more.  But all that's on a different page.

The bottom line is this:  As long as the label on the door in America says MENS ROOM, I have every right to expect ONLY men inside.  It doesn't matter why.  It doesn't matter what they do in Europe.  I have a right to privacy, by MY definition, not the twisted definition of a wanna-be psychologist.  Period.  End of story.
Restrooms are separate ... - Jun 1, 2013 12:58:42 — ...for a reason. Each person has the right to expect to be able to use their own restroom without having someone of the opposite gender observing them. (The exception would be real small children)
mr x - Jun 21, 2013 02:35:08 — man up who cares just go in to do what you need to and leave.
Jonas - Jun 23, 2013 02:37:41 — It's not about me, mr x.  I'm sorry you put so much time and thought into the matter for nothing.  Thanks anyway.
steve - Jul 5, 2013 01:51:26 — all bathrooms/restrooms ect should be unisex
billy - Apr 3, 2016 03:53:34 — This is no big deal to us in the UK and Europe it's part of life. we have open plan unisex toilets for all to use and see not that anyone takes any notice.
Jonas - Apr 3, 2016 11:14:40 — I'll try to be a little less rude than I was the last time someone brought this to my attention.

I've been to parts of Europe, including eastern Europe (but never to the UK), and from my limited experience, there were always clearly marked, separate facilities for men and women.  Even in the bowels of Russia.

Still, billy, I've heard your claim a few times.  That's why my second 'graph reads, in part, "In another country, I might expect it."

So there are those of you who don't care about privacy.  Okay.  So you don't care.  Personally (and I'm not alone), I don't want to see anyone using the john, and I don't want anyone - male or female - seeing me, either.  That's what privacy means.

But if you want to go with the door open, God help you.  If you, your family, your community, your country are okay with it, God help you all.

The rest of us are not asking too much.  No matter what country you're in, if the sign on the door says MEN, only men should go in.  If the sign says WOMEN, only women should go in.  You may not care about privacy, but other people do.

From A Brief History of the Bathroom (http://porch.com/advice/brief-history-bathroom/), I found that separate bath facilities may date back to Ancient Rome.

"Men and women usually bathed separately and used different entrances."

On the other hand...

"For the most part, our modern concept of privacy when using the toilet is relatively new. It's true that the most powerful or wealthy may have been able to use the toilet in relative privacy. But for the lower or middle classes, nearly all aspects of life was commonly shared."

I've never been powerful.  Wealthy is relative.  By many standards around the globe, yes, almost all Americans can be considered wealthy.  If somebody else wants to do the research on this, knock yourself out.  I don't really care that much.  I just want to relieve myself in private, and I don't want to infringe on anyone else's right to do the same.
John in the Jon - Apr 16, 2016 12:00:39 — According to your definition of privacy: "Personally (and I'm not alone), I don't want to see anyone using the john, and I don't want anyone - male or female - seeing me, either. That's what privacy means." In order for restrooms to be private, they need to service only one person at a time. Even if your definition allows for stalls to be considered private, I still don't see where the gender separation thing is significant to privacy. Let's consider the safety issue you brought up earlier, where a perv or violent offender (assumed male) could assault a victim (assumed female) if co-ed restrooms were common. What is to stop the same miscreant from performing the same actions by walking over to the other side of the hallway and entering the ladies room? And, if you are of the mind that women cannot defend themselves, wouldn't it be beneficial to have a male bystander available to assist in removing the perv from the area? I was raised, similar to you, with the archetype that men and women are, by and large, handle private matters in completely separated areas. That's what is comfortable for me; that is what is normal to me. But, I don't agree with you claiming there are a distinct set of cases that justify why gender separation is strictly necessary in this context. It's just an arbitrary cultural standard. That being said, it is still a cultural standard that I stand by.
Jonas - Apr 16, 2016 01:01:05 — John in the Jon, you're making this far more complicated than it needs to be.  Men/boys use the room designated for them.  Woman/girls use the room designated for them.  It's that simple.  Do we really need to intellectually justify this concept?  (The correct answer is "no".)  Thanks for visiting, and have a great weekend!
Sue - May 22, 2016 01:01:50 — Looks like the comments are getting out of hand. I can see it from both sides, we all have what we are use to and should not judge others for what they know and is use to for the way off life or know from growing up
ken - Jul 31, 2016 12:43:24 — I think there should be a separate ladies room but the men's room should be public which allows women to walk in at will.
Sue  - Jul 2, 2017 07:50:14 — Is America more open to this now the world is more open and relaxed about unisex/ all genders eat bathroom are here
Jonas - Jul 5, 2017 06:18:22 — Liberals are trying to force America and the world to be open and accepting, but most of us (Americans) still prefer privacy for ourselves.  What others do is irrelevant.  No one should have to sacrifice their privacy simply because others are immodest or confused about their own biological sex.
Clay - Aug 15, 2017 03:37:41 — I think restrooms should all be coed. If a man is modest, he can use a stall. The women will all use stalls anyway. That would certainly end the long lines at women's rooms. If there is a line, it will include men & women in line. Equal opportunity.
Cassie - Oct 6, 2017 11:31:35 — Adults need to always use the correct restroom. If a woman has a little boy she needs to take him into the ladies room and if a man is with a little girl he has to take her to the men's room. It is unethical for adults to enter the opposite sex private room while someone is using it; someone could be urinating, undressing, etc.

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