Menstruation and public toilets

Greed, C. (2017) Menstruation and public toilets. In: Down the Pan: Conference on public toilet provision at Glasgow university March 2017, Glasgow, Scotland, 20 - 21 march 2017. Available from:

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This paper investigates the reasons for the unequal and impractical nature of women’s public toilets. Men have twice the level of provision as women, resulting in long toilet queues for the Ladies. Although women have fewer facilities than men their needs are greater. Menstruating women need toilet facilities more often, as do menopausal women, the pregnant and elderly women with urinary and incontinence problems. The historical, cultural and social roots of the problem are discussed. Women are perceived as ‘other’ relative to men, and women’s ‘different’ biological functions, and their toilet provision too, are seen as dirtier than men’s. Much of the disgust, and related clean/dirty dualism, is organised around and predicated upon a male/female binary division especially evident in the nature of public toilet provision. The paper discusses whether trends towards seeing gender as a continuum, not a binary, and thus the desegregation of public toilets to accommodate transgender users, will assist or detract from meeting women’s long-standing toilet demands for more equal provision, and more women-friendly and accessible design of the types of facilities available. Do Gender Neutral Toilets (GNTs) trends recognise women’s biological differences, including menstruation, and ensure their right to privacy, equality and dignity?

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords:public toilets, gender, menstruation, accessibility, mobility, urban design
Faculty/Department:Faculty of Environment and Technology > Department of Architecture and the Built Environment
ID Code:32690
Deposited By: Professor C. Greed
Deposited On:07 Aug 2017 11:00
Last Modified:07 Aug 2017 11:00

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