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Blue The Nation | April 24, 2014

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The Senate Finally Has More Than Two Bathroom Stalls For Women

The Senate Finally Has More Than Two Bathroom Stalls For Women
Jonathan Nathan

There’s sort of a running joke in American culture that there’s always a line for the women’s bathroom. And, in this current Congressional session, it had become a running joke among U.S. Senators, as well. But the thing is, at the U.S. Senate, there was a pretty legitimate reason. That’s because there were fewer bathroom stalls for women Senators than there are for women baseball fans at the Oakland Coliseum. In fact, there were the same number of women’s bathroom stalls as there are bathrooms in my house: two.

If that’s not a sign of an entrenched male domination of the halls of American power, I don’t know what is. I’ve always said that you can learn a lot about a person, a culture, a society, a nation, by its bathrooms. Are there a lot of different shampoos in the shower? There must be a lot of roommates here (or, as is the case in my situation, there must be one guy who always forgets that he already has shampoo when he goes grocery shopping.) Is there a bunch of Tylenol all over the floor? I bet this guy just had a wicked hangover and hasn’t cleaned up yet. Are there more than two bathroom stalls for women in this U.S. Senate building? No? Gee, I bet women don’t have a lot of power in this country.

Does the bathroom look like this? It’s probably in a federal prison!

But something is finally being done, and of course it’s out of necessity. There are more female U.S. Senators this year than there have ever been, and two stalls wasn’t cutting it for twenty women. Two stalls wouldn’t cut it for twenty men either. Hell, three bathrooms was barely enough for my family of five growing up, and the only woman was Mom.

So construction crews have been expanding the women’s-bathroom capacity of the United States Senate. Progress takes many shapes and forms, but today we can justifiably say that the gender equality of our nation’s bathrooms has taken a step forward.