Let’s take a little breather from the GOTV madness shall we? (Although, seriously, get out and vote!) What’s up with the sexism in public bathrooms? Specifically, I’m talking about baby changing tables. It’s an old issue, but its a very public reminder that sexism around parenting roles and childcare still exist.
A number of times my husband and I’ve been out and about and discovered that the public place we were in had no changing table in the men’s bathroom and no family restroom (and sometimes no changing table at all, anywhere! Lame!). I can understand why family restrooms are not as prevalent because they take up more space. But what’s up with the lack of changing tables for men? I am writing this now because my husband is out with our daughter doing the grocery shopping. We co-parent. I’m working more on my writing and getting back into my career even as I am staying home with my daughter, which means that my husband and I have to share the load, so to speak. But a lack of facilities for fathers means families like mine, and many others, are just shit out of luck.
What does this say about how we feel about fathers? Should dad’s never have time with their children independent of mothers? What about single fathers? Gay fathers?
It’s 20-freakin-10, people! When are we going to get right about parent roles? My husband, like many men, is a very active father. The first thing he does when he comes home from work is rush over to our daughter and scoop her up whether she’s happy, crying, has a poopy diaper or any other state. He misses her when he travels for work. And he binges on time with her on the weekends or other time off. He is equally integral to my daughter’s life, well-being and happiness as I am. The idea that women hold the key to parenting or that motherhood is this magical spell that enables a woman to know all and be all for their kids is not just out-moded and sexist, it’s crippling to families. And when family units are crippled our society at large suffers, too.
And it’s a very strange double-standard. On the one hand, the “women’s work” of parenting and the domestic sphere are grossly devalued in our society. Certainly, there’s no pay. But there’s also no respect, rampant sexism and a sense that it is easy. Bullshit. But then on the other hand, society says that only women can do this work. Men are incapable of coping with or understanding the job of parenting and the domestic sphere. Whether this has come from the idea that it is beneath men or that they fear being emasculated or that women themselves undermine men — I’m not sure. Maybe it’s all the above. Maybe it’s even more than that.
But at the end of the day, we need to change the little things, like access to changing diapers, to change the big picture. Because as any parent knows, the little things like diapers are actually a big deal. I just had a conversation with my husband before he left about whether or not our baby has pooped today and how healthy her bottom seems after changing wipe brands. When you change as many diapers as parents with babies, this stuff becomes a pretty big part of your daily life. And don’t even get me started on lack of comfortable, discreet spaces to breastfeed in public…
Guess what? Babies eat, poop and sleep. And they also cry their heads off when something is amiss in that scenario. So if you don’t want to offer changing tables at your establishment, I guess that means my family won’t be spending any money at your place. Because, frankly, even if my husband isn’t along, I don’t like the idea that you would exclude him (or any other father) from parenting.
And I’m naming names. Here’s my list of places I’ve been to here in Las Vegas without changing tables in the men’s bathroom (list subject to change and grow, unfortunately):
- Panera Bread
- Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
- McCarran International Airport
And here’s some with none in the women’s either:
- Las Vegas Outlet Center (only in one of their women’s bathrooms)
- Starbucks (multiple locations)
- Summerlin Hospital Medical Center,4th floor (incidentally the same floor as an OBGYN , but not mine)
Have you had the same experience? Call ’em out! Put your experience in the comments!