Sunday, 12 July 2015

Designed by men

One of the things that constantly irritate me when out and about is what I will often find in ladies' toilets only after sitting down for a pee: no tissue within reach. I'm seated, and facing the door. The tissue dispenser should therefore be on the wall beside me, and conveniently low down, level with my chest and perhaps bit forward from it.

But it often isn't. It will instead be behind me, and out of reach no matter how much contortion I can muster. It's been positioned where the workman fitting the toilet thought would be fine, on the basis that tissues can be anywhere, needed only if the cubicle occupant has been doing their No 2's.

I think I can see the thinking. It's casually assumed that women have the same needs as men. And men don't use tissues, certainly not when doing their business at the urinal - they merely shake their willies to get rid of any excess fluid, then zip up and walk away whistling. A shy man wanting privacy might duck into a cubicle; but otherwise he does exactly the same thing - pees standing up, shakes his tadger when done, and walks off nonchalantly. Tissues don't come into it at all. Tissues really don't matter. Their best placement even less. And, they think, this is how it is for women too.

But men surely do know that a woman sits down, facing the door. That in itself should give them a clue that a woman's toilet routine is different, and that the best layout for a ladies' loo will be different too. But men seem to design toilets on the basis that women will just shake their bottoms, pull up their knickers, pat their hair, and walk out. How crass.

I don't think men understand that if she has any concern for her personal hygiene and comfort - and indeed the state of the toilet seat for the next occupant - the average woman will want to reel off a small wodge of tissue to dab herself with, while still hovering over the pan. Because if she doesn't, she might well dribble trapped fluids, certainly a drop or two of urine, a consequence of her anatomy. No amount of frenzied bottom-shaking will do the trick. She needs to dab before standing up again. And it's so frustrating when the necessary tissues aren't handy.

I don't want to condemn all men of course. But so unusual it is to find a ladies' loo which is ideally fitted out, that I am personally convinced that (a) all Toilet Architects are men; (b) all Toilet Fitters are men; (c) neither has any idea what a woman needs to do immediately after peeing. Odd that. Surely they discuss this sometimes with their wives? Surely one or two must be Peeping Toms?

It's a similar story with bathrooms. Take bidets. These are still something of a 'luxury' bathroom fitting in Britain, not often encountered, not common even in hotels. I've never yet used one myself, although if I ever redesign my bathroom I will make room for one.

But I will insist that it's installed correctly. While up in Scotland, a friend showed me a classic example of a bidet that it was completely unusable. I don't want to name the friend concerned, so I'll use the substitute name I gave her when posting in 2013: Morag of the Magic Mountains. (If you recall, I disguised Coline as Brenda of the Seven Secrets, and I adopted the cunning pseudonym of Princess Iona, Fairest Lady of the Sunset Seas)

Anyway, in the time since I last saw her, Morag of the Magic Mountains had moved into a brilliantly-situated house with an amazing view of the Firth of Forth. It was an impressive home in other ways too; but in her spacious bathroom something had gone wrong. The previous owner, a man, had fitted a bidet when modernising the bathroom. It was attached to the wall, the taps being close to the wall and the basin jutting out into the room. Basically correct.

But he must have had no idea how a woman would actually use it. He had clearly assumed that the seated woman would have her back to the taps, rather than sit facing them. So no allowance was made for where her knees needed to go. The basin was too close to the wall to be usable! (I so wish I'd taken a photo) It was a ludicrous DIY disaster.

Really, you can't trust men to get it right every time, even if you might assume they know what they're about. I well recall the tussles M--- had back in early 2005 when trying to get the plumber to put the various fittings in my new bathroom (my previous home was being modernised before sale; M--- was in charge of it all) where she wanted them, as opposed to where he thought they should be. His idea was to have an absolutely equal space between each fitting. She wanted unequal spacing, which nevertheless looked right and would work better, taking into account the overall shape of the bathroom, and where the windows were. He thought her mad, and ridiculously over-fussy, and was scornful. Fortunately she stood her ground and got her way. Female design sense triumphed over inflexible male notions! But he never admitted that he was in any way wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Every girl should have access to a bidet, it should be law! As you say they should not be allowed to be installed by an unaccompanied plumber. The one which was in the house before I arrived was badly situated but worse it was of the kind with a fountain to tickle your fancy . Visitors would encounter this wondrous bathroom device and be tempted to play with it, sadly the idiot plumber had mixed low pressure hot with mains pressure cold at the fountain and the cold tap could get stuck. I lost count of the number of times embarrassed guests would leave the fountain washing the ceiling and flooding the bathroom...

    Blokes, what are they for, why do women bother with them!?


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