I shared the above picture on Facebook yesterday to elevate the discussion that diaper changing is still considers a woman’s job. In the time we are having an unnecessary discussion on which bathroom a transgendered individual uses, the fact that men can’t universally have a spot to change diapers is ridiculous.
What originally set me off was the female image changing a diaper for the sign on the men’s room. This was in the restrooms of the baggage claim area in Cleveland Hopkins airport. In fairness, later when I was heading for the plane I noticed at least one other men’s room with a male stick figure changing the diaper – and a female figure was appropriately used on the women’s room. This sign is probably a throwback sign that was being used as a replacement or is so old that it still needs to be replaced. However, why wasn’t it that was in the first place.
My son is years out of diapers. It’s likely unless I have grandchildren – I will never change a diaper again. Though, since it wasn’t that long ago I still feel the pain. When my wife and I were out and about I had to go check the men’s rooms for changing tables. We did this so I could logically take my turn in the fair share field of dealing with dirty diapers. What we found early on was actually surprising.
Most female restrooms include a changing table. When I was a young child and my mother would take me into to the restroom I remember there being a changing table in almost all of them. It often resembled more of a kitchen counter with a lip on the edge, but it worked. Today we have the fancy flip down space saving tables with straps to make sure the child does not role off into oblivion. Men’s rooms aren’t not guaranteed these amenities. Sure every once in awhile you will run across a women’s room that doesn’t have a changing table. Most of these are reserved for gas stations it seems. However the majority of the time a women’s room includes a changing table.
Men’s room are a hit or miss proposition when it comes to changing tables. In personal experience 40-50% of the time, the men’s room did not have a table. I did watch more and more tables get installed in during my diaper changing era, but it was still a pain. We have entered an era where you can use a bathroom based on your gender identity – but you can only be somewhat guaranteed to have access to a changing table if your gender identity is female.
Target recently announced that it was going to allow anyone to use whichever bathroom they feel comfortable with. My first thought was that maybe they should just implement unisex bathrooms at their stores and be done with it. They also are a place that includes a changing table in the men’s room most of the time. However, if another store implements this same policy – would people be fine with a man that was self identified male to enter the women’s room to access a changing table? In this scenario the store itself is to blame by promoting a gender identity that is required to access this table. Shouldn’t it be fine?
When I took the picture at the start of this piece, all those memories and pains came flooding back. The fact that no one seems to expect a guy to change diapers – so let’s put a female avatar on the sign. This is an issue of gender equality that needs to be solved – because this time we really need “to think of the children”. The “think of the children” get’s thrown around so often it becomes a joke. It is used when children are barely affected by the outcomes. The changing table issue though, this is directly about getting a dirty diaper changed off of a baby. I can’t think of many more things in which we should think of the children more than that.