The number of bottles grew over time—first shampoo and conditioner, then hair gel. “This guy must really love his hair,” my friend told me after finding such hair products crowding the men’s bathroom on multiple occasions. A few days later, he walked in to find a girl, fresh from the shower—naked — in front of a mirror lined with those very same products.
Whether the showers in the women’s bathroom’s were already occupied or were just less clean we will never know—there are a multitude of reasons why girls use the guys’ bathrooms. Easy access without a bathroom code makes it quite convenient for both guys and girls. Not having a code for the men’s bathroom, however, is a double standard. The codes for the women’s bathrooms were put in place in the 1970s after undergraduate women on campus lobbied for their installment for their own safety and privacy (females were still largely outnumbered by males on campus, as this was only a few years after the University became co-ed). Even now, with a nearly equal divide between male and female undergraduates on campus, women still have this privacy—and so should men. Both men and women deserve to feel safe and comfortable in their respective bathrooms; all bathrooms should have codes in order to better protect students’ privacy.
I have actually talked to a number of guys who say they wouldn’t want a bathroom code (apparently, remembering and punching in four digits is quite difficult), but that doesn’t change the fact that any guy who does care about his privacy in the bathroom has a right to it. By labeling men’s and women’s bathrooms as such, we have an agreement: Girls will use the women’s bathrooms, and guys will use the men’s bathrooms. Even if only one guy feels better knowing that girls will not be in the bathroom when he walks out of the shower, he should be able to have that safety just as much as girls should. The right to privacy, especially in the bathrooms, should always take precedence over convenience, and we cannot hold this as a double standard for guys and girls; guys deserve privacy and comfort just as much as girls do.
This discrepancy in privacy also has larger implications, both symbolic and practical. Why is it OK for a girl to be in a men’s bathroom, but if a guy walked into a women’s bathroom, he would probably be met with horror and a few screams? With a bathroom code only on the women’s bathrooms, does that imply that girls are in greater need of safety from guys walking in than guys are of girls? Do guys not need a similar protection? Guys can be victims of sexual assault, too, and it’s not entirely uncommon. People of any gender can be harassed or violated. Mitchell Hammer, in his column from spring 2014, discusses this issue in depth. The discrepancy in bathroom codes leads to unfair ideas about sexual assault and denies men the right to feel safe in their own bathrooms. Having a code for all bathrooms provides more security that the only people going into the bathrooms are ones who should be, whether they are people of your gender or just, in general, people within the University community who have explicitly been given the bathroom code.
It is worth noting, as well, that having bathroom codes does not restrict those who are non-gender conforming, as there are also gender-neutral bathrooms and numerous single-stall bathrooms located all throughout campus. Similarly, the gender-neutral bathrooms should also have codes; though people of any gender can use them, having a code helps to ensure that the people using the bathroom are ones who should be. This gives all people maximum safety and peace of mind as well as the opportunity to make their own decisions about where they feel most comfortable.
Many would argue that it is not exactly difficult to get ahold of the bathroom codes anywhere, which is often true. Having codes for all bathrooms, however, provides a peace of mind that whoever is entering the bathroom was given the code, hopefully in good faith, and that they are using it properly. Having bathroom codes for all bathrooms is only fair; it allows every person to feel comfortable, regardless of gender. It is unfair that guys have to deal with girls using their bathrooms, whether they generally don’t mind or they do. Every person should have equal opportunities for privacy and comfort, and that includes not accidentally walking in on a girl’s after-shower rituals in the men’s bathroom.
LoganSander is a freshman fromSylvania, Ohio. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.