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There are three standard toilet symbols as far as I know.
One has a triangular bit with legs sticking out, one has
arms and legs and looks like a human being and one is a
person sitting on a circle. If these were to be
entirely literally, only people who looked exactly like
would be allowed in, and this would be silly although I
suppose we could all spend our time in three metre high
envelopes with the symbols printed on them so we could
look exactly like them, although that would obviate the
need for toilets in the first place. Hence "almost
My proposition is that anyone who more or less resembles
the silhouette of the supposed symbol be allowed to use
the appropriate toilet. Thus anyone who looks like the
"gentleman" symbol may use the Gents. This would
anyone with entirely or mainly visible legwear and
naked. Well, I say anyone, but I'll come back to that.
Similarly, anyone with a clearly triangular bit obscuring
perhaps concealing from only one side their upper legs,
such as the cape of meme lore, an actual skirt, dress,
or trench coat, should be allowed to go through the door
with that symbol on it. Lastly, the apparent wheelchair
symbol should indicate that anyone on a wheelchair,
hopper or Pilates ball should be allowed to use that
Ah, you say, but what about people who don't look like
that because of their unusual number or configuration of
limbs? I would answer that by including extra symbols
missing and additional limbs. There would be no need to
distinguish between people with missing right or left legs
because they could just turn round to fit the outline,
although they must then go through the door in that
direction. This gives us the following options (side
I suspect that the last three would be using the space
option on the whole. Incidentally, you would be allowed
to hop through if you wanted to use a single-legged
option and conceal an arm about your person for the
single-armed version, since I suspect these cubicles
would be empty most of the time otherwise.
In fact, the doors should just have the shapes in them
people should convey themselves through appropriately,
touching in the appropriate places, which would
automatically unlock the doors, cartoon defenestration
There should also be cubicles for people with tails, horns
and/or wings, and also people with missing wings, horns
||There was a game show where the contestants had to configure their
shape to conform to a cardboard hole. Perhaps this is a solution. Fold
yourself to the pattern on the entrance.
||We once went into am establishment that had a freshly-varnshed counter.
||On it was a sign that read "WET PAINT".
||A quick odour check noted the distinctive fragrance of polyurethane.
||After a pause, we informed the young lady seated behind the counter "Your sign is wrong".
||We explained. "That's not paint, it's varnish; and it's polyurethane, so it doesn't 'dry' by solvent evaporation, but by polymerization mediated by opportunistic oxygen free radicals. To be correct, the sign should read, 'Non-polymerized transparent alkyd conformal coating"'.
||The other young lady, who had encountered us on numerous previous occasions, said (when she had recovered from an incapacitating ft of laughter) that she agreed with us, but only we would understand such a sign.
||We pointed out that we were the only ones there.
||But they still wouldn't correct it.
||I think a far simpler solution is to use the words
"MEN" and "WOMEN"
on the respective signs. People in countries with
will just have to adapt and learn English, but that
would of course be
no bad thing.
||There is then, of course, the question of defining
"WOMEN", but I suggest that the answer here is
mob rule. If you find
yourself being shouted at by the majority of the
occupants of a
particular toilet, that indicates that you might find
it easier to use
the other one, and vice versa. In this way,
Bentham's objective of
the greatest net happiness is assured.
||A yet further option, of course, is to have uni- (or
poly-) sex loos in
the first place. There would then, presumably, be
whether dogs or okapis were allowed to use them,
which attributes (bipedalism? opposable thumbs?
needed in order to qualify.
||//an incapacitating ft of laughter// So, not the
whole nine yards of laughter, then?
||No, it wasn't THAT funny...
||//arguments over whether dogs or okapis were allowed to
use them// For me, the best requirement for wanting to
go into the toilet should be either that one needs a pee,
or a number 2.
||That being said, sometimes, if one's feeling a bit under
the weather, just having a place to a sit down somewhere
quiet is actually quite handy too.
||Or a quick hand-wash after having eaten an ice-cream, or
an over-ladened sandwich.
||Perhaps a quick duck-in to see if the hair hasn't been too
ruffled by a gust or two.
||The problem, as far as I understand it, is that people
somehow associate toilets with activities outside of the
utilisation of water, hand-drying facilities, and drains. If
we could get everyone thinking back on track, we
wouldn't need any of the dualist nonsense that we've
inherited from the past.
||Some changes in culture are so dramatic that the
generation that grew up before the change has to
die before they can be entirely implemented. Strong
taboos frequently are only abandoned in mortality.
||The trouble with entering a loo with the word on it is there would have
to be at least three of you, each with a highly unusual body shape. On
the other hand, both WOMEN and MEN would be able to use the same
cubicles, with the exception of the W and O shaped members of the
||[po], on reflection that may have been a subconscious influence.
||We need something which fits with our new
relativistic, individualistic age and sweeps aside the
narrow absolute certainties of gender-identification
past. Thus, I propose the door to the toilet area has
a whiteboard on it upon which you can draw whatever
symbol or text you feel describes yourself at this
moment, before you enter and use the facilities. You
might, in an amusingly retro and ironic way draw a
traditional 'male' or 'female' symbol or you might
write something which describes your beliefs, mood,
hopes or dreams. When leaving you have to wipe off
whatever you put on the board - so, the number of
items on the board at any one time shows how many
people are occupying the toilets, as well as the kinds
of people they are.
||Easy - Backlit LCD that picks up a URL by Bluetooth from the user's smartphone and displays a personalised* image or graphic.
||*For those, such as Justin Bieber, who don't actually have a personality, some default standard clipart would do.
||That's a good idea - it would be a solution that could
adapt to those people whose self-image changes radically
while they are on the loo.
||Imagine a curvilinear university lecture hall designed in the '60s. Imagine that, around a curve, there is an arch with a sign above it that says 'WASHROOMS'. Entering the archway, you see to your left a bank of doors, (this is the important part) floor to ceiling, each with its own proper doorknob (classy!). To your right, you see a bank of sinks, soap between each, mirrors for checking your hair or getting out that bit of green stuff in your teeth, paper towel dispensers.
||No matter what your gender, sex, height, body parts or clothing selection, you choose a door, turn the knob (not THAT knob, wait 'til you're inside). If it's unlocked you enter, lock the door behind you, enjoying the privacy of this well-designed toilet space.
||Upon emerging, you wash your hands and leave through either the archway you arrived through, or the archway at the other end of the banks of toilet closets and sinks, which also has a sign over it which says 'WASHROOMS'.
||No problems for over 50 years, far as I know. A bit mind-mending for some of the more conservative Canadians who end up at this university, perhaps.
||Update for the 21st century: include SOME booths with [hippo]'s whiteboard or [8th of 7]'s Bluetooth pick-up, primarily for those who choose artistic expression in the washroom. There could be a second screen with e-pen inside the door, for graffiti artists. Write on the inside of the door, and the graffiti is displayed on the screen outside AFTER you've left the stall.