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Menstruation and public toilets

Greed, Clara


Clara Greed


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?


Greed, C. (2017, March). Menstruation and public toilets. Paper presented at Down the Pan

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Down the Pan
Start Date Mar 20, 2017
End Date Mar 21, 2017
Acceptance Date Dec 1, 2017
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords public toilets, gender, menstruation, accessibility, mobility, urban design
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Down the Pan: Conference on public toilet provision at Glasgow university March 2017