No Place to Go
How Public Toilets Fail Our Private NeedsBook - 2018
Adults don't talk about the business of doing our business. We work on one assumption: the world of public bathrooms is problem- and politics-free. No Place To Go reveals the opposite is true.
No Place To Go is a toilet tour from London to San Francisco to Toronto and beyond. From pay potties to deserted alleyways, No Place To Go is a marriage of urbanism, social narrative, and pop culture that shows the ways — momentous and mockable — public bathrooms just don't work. Like, for the homeless, who, faced with no place to go sometimes literally take to the streets. (Ever heard of a municipal poop map?) For people with invisible disabilities, such as Crohn’s disease, who stay home rather than risk soiling themselves on public transit routes. For girls who quit sports teams because they don’t want to run to the edge of the pitch to pee. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Bruce Springsteen have protested bathroom bills that will stomp on the rights of transpeople. And where was Hillary Clinton after she arrived back to the stage late after the first commercial break of the live-televised Democratic leadership debate in December 2015? Stuck in a queue for the women’s bathroom.
Peel back the layers on public bathrooms and it’s clear many more people want for good access than have it. Public bathroom access is about cities, society, design, movement, and equity. The real question is: Why are public toilets so crappy?
This book is Number One in addressing the politics of where we're allowed to "go" in public.
From the critics
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"There's one more issue that's central to ... potty parity. But menstruation ... rarely gets discussed. By sheer volume alone, however - nearly a quarter of all women of child-bearing age are menstruating at any one time - it's one of the critical pieces of the public toilet discussion. You can't control blood the same way you control urine. You can't hold it in. 'If [women] are sort of flooding', a toilet advocate remarked to the author, 'they need to change their tampon or sanitary pad.' (p. 110)
"The fight for potty parity goes beyond the battle for more stalls [for women]. It's about getting more bathroom access generally in cities ... While potty parity is squarely about women and people who identify as female - more and better bathrooms don't benefit women alone. People with invisible disabilities like incontinence, shy bladder syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease all get a lift from more [publicly accessible bathrooms]. So do parents of small children and caregivers of adults. There are scores of bathroom users out there who could really use the leg up. (p. 26) ... If there's any revolution happening in public bathrooms ... it's being driven by the transgender community." (p. 27)
Potty parity advocate: "Women, from a very young age, are made to feel like it's the woman's fault [that there are long queues at washrooms]. Women take longer. Her fault. And you still hear it! I have to keep my mouth shut. There are little girls asking, 'Mummy, why are we waiting?' 'Well, it's because women take longer.' Well, it's not. It's just that the planners, the architects, the local authorities, the people who license these places, are choosing not to be realistic, choosing not to give the space where it should be given." (p. 107)
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