More specifically to my company's case, is a woman rightful to feel outraged if a man uses the toilet designated for women?

I am asking this out of curiosity after a few talks about the matter in my office. But first let me describe our small workplace. Our single "bathroom" is made by a common area with two lavatories and then two smaller separate rooms with the toilets, separated by a sliding door. One is designed for men and one for women. They both are equipped with toilet and bidet (an uncommon furniture in most countries, but very useful). Incidentally, the men's toilet also features a shower that our boss (a man too) uses when he sleeps at office about once a week. Nobody else uses that.

It is normal for a man to wash his hands next to a woman doing the same, and nobody complained ever. However, since our workforce started growing, and since incidentally only 3 women work at main office (with 20+ men), bathroom queues started to grow biased.

This started very few men, who also have little health problems that won't recommend them to wait a lot, to (ab)use the women's toilet when the other one is in use.

I know that one of 3 female coworkers who works here would be surely outraged if she discovers that a man is using "her" toilet, despite the need. I am sure because we joked on that and got angry answers. She currently doesn't know anything.

Given that everyone always flushes, and also cleans up eventual dirty, I am asking the audience here what people think about gender separation at bathroom.

More specifically, to what degree should genders be separated, after which we could all be considered equal peers.

Here a few points:

  • If there were separate rooms with separate lavatories, etc. I would agree that it is inappropriate for a man to enter women's bathroom. It is my understanding that common culture requires gender separation in particular for allowing men and women to discuss possible male or female specific health arguments without feeling uncomfortable by undesired ears, or even to keep their "noises" away from opposite gender ears. But here only the small toilet closet is separated, and that's just the place you don't want anybody to be there with you. Any word or noise is shared among the 4 maximum occupants (2 using the toilets, other 2 washing their hands/teeth)
  • I personally would not mind if a person of the opposite gender uses my toilet, as soon as he/she doesn't leave disgusting dirt on the toilet itself (leg hair, blood traces... or worse like you often find in public places) to the next user - worded this phrase gender-agnostic
  • I don't also think that women in particular should be offended by men using their toilet argumenting cleaning reasons, as they will be always sitting and men not. I know about different women who complain about lack of cleaning of their public toilets and buy hygienic paper covers (those you also find for free in most trains)

I belong to the group of 20+ men, and I feel like it's not an offense to women if we use (and keep decently clean) their toilet, and the opposite the same.

Final, subjective, part of the question:

In the case I ever need to rush to the bathroom I'd like to understand if I should feel acting wrong by using a different gender toilet, and with what arguments to pacifically confront with the only one person who would certainly not agree with this behaviour.

Certainly, everyone deserves respect of his/her spaces too.

closed as off-topic by keshlam, AndreiROM, The Wandering Dev Manager, Lilienthal, Dawny33 Jan 5 '16 at 16:57

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – keshlam, AndreiROM, The Wandering Dev Manager, Dawny33
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    If I told you that you should or shouldn't feel wrong, would that solve your problem? This sounds like something you should discuss with your manager. – thunderblaster Jan 5 '16 at 14:44
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    huffingtonpost.com/news/transgender-bathrooms would be a useful link as there is a Transgender component here that isn't referenced at all that in some places is a really really big deal. – JB King Jan 5 '16 at 16:00
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    I don't see an actual question here, just a long-winded description of the situation and the question in the title doesn't fit this site. – Lilienthal Jan 5 '16 at 16:45
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    There's one other issue: the standard ratio of WC cubicles to number of women is about 50 per cent higher than that for men. 1 cubicle per 20 men in an office is normally enough, but you've discovered that there is 15 to 20 per cent (say) chance of overfilling the existing capacity. Your management should therefore expand toilet facilities and keep them gender-separate if required by law. – Deer Hunter Jan 5 '16 at 17:04
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    23+ people to two toilets is indicative of the urgent need for better facilities – Kilisi Jan 6 '16 at 9:21

This question is very likely to be closed, as it is far too specific to your situation, however here are a few points to consider:

Legal Requirements

Depending on the country you're in labor laws may require the company to provide women with a female only washroom, and not doing so / "invading" their space may constitute a violation, or even be grounds for a lawsuit.

Personal Views

Each person will feel a little differently about washroom etiquette. It is a sad truth that people's hygiene and modesty standards differ wildly. If some women in your office do indeed have a problem with men using their washroom then maybe you guys should respect their choices?

Reaching An Agreement

One alternative might be that the women in the office put the matter to a vote and decide among themselves whether they will share their washroom with the men.

Alternatively, and barring any laws to prohibit it, management could simply declare both washrooms unisex, and thus this person can either get with the program or quit.

Either way I think a conversation about the situation would be a lot healthier than sneaking into the women's washroom and then having it become a scandal when that one woman finds out that this has been happening.

Note: I would also petition management to have the washroom expanded, as 2 lavatories for 23+ people is ridiculous.

  • Well, I tried to express my case as an example. I am more interested in a general interpretation of the matter. And yes we are currently planning to expand – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Jan 5 '16 at 15:00
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    @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ - we can't judge on whether some person should or should not be mad with the arrangement. I could easily say "yes, I agree with you, this woman is ridiculous", but 10 other people might disagree, and it wouldn't change anything either way. Stack Exchange is not a site on which to ask purely for "moral support", or validation of your feelings. Or do you mean something else by "general interpretation"? – AndreiROM Jan 5 '16 at 15:04
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    I believe in some areas there's actually labor laws that require so many toilets available per worker, and if there are gendered toilets, the opposite gender toilets don't count if there's a gender imbalance. So it may be also the law that the employer must get more facilities for the men. – Kai Jan 5 '16 at 15:28
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    Since health problems were mentioned, there are people who just are not able to wait and given the choice between total disaster and using the "wrong" toilet, one would always choose avoiding a disaster. – gnasher729 Jan 5 '16 at 16:20

I've been in a similar situation, except the two single toilets were completely contained (sinks in with the toilet), the men didn't outnumber the women quite as badly (there were adequate toilets for both genders), and I was one of the women. In my case, I suggested the men use the woman's toilet, because it simply made sense.

It would be worth petitioning management to remove the gender definitions from the doors, unless there are laws prohibiting that. Perhaps the women and men will still generally use the same toilets as they have, but removing the gender labels will resolve several issues:

  • Inadequate facilities for one gender (another option would be to add another toilet for men, which is more expensive).
  • People who don't identify as one gender or the other are still accommodated (if that is perhaps a requirement where you are)
  • Toilets don't need to be re-labeled if the male/female proportions change

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