Herman: When it comes to bathrooms, I take my wife’s opinion


A reader asked me to ask someone something. So I did.

This has to do with a topic we’re done with, at least for a while: bathrooms, specifically, who attends which one.

As you know, the special session of the Legislature ended last week with no action on the push to require folks, when in government buildings, to use the bathroom that matches the gender on their birth certificate.

In my never-ending effort to find solutions (even where there is no real problem — that’s where I do some of my best work), I have endorsed the notion of one bathroom for all. Among those that have gone that way is the Alamo Drafthouse theater at Mueller, where there is a single bathroom with individual, fully enclosed stalls and a common area with sinks. Problem solved, right?

RELATED: Bills are all but dead, but transgender bathroom fight lives on

Wrong, said American-Statesman reader Chris Sale, who in a recently published letter to the editor challenged the one-bathroom-for-all concept. It is, she said, a security issue.

“Have you seen that funny email that asks why it is that men can go to the restroom alone but women go together?” Sale asked. (FYI, no, I haven’t seen that funny email.) “Well, this is the answer. Men are bigger and can take care of themselves if an attacker lurks in the restroom.”

Oh, so it’s a safety issue. Never having been in the women’s restroom (except ever-so-briefly by embarrassing mistake corrected as soon as I noticed the lack of urinals), I’ve long wondered why women sometimes go in couples or groups. It’s a security issue, reader Sale says. So I guess each woman takes a turn on lookout as the others do their business. Sounds like a good idea. Who knew?

More from reader Sale (whose readership of this newspaper and interest in this topic is appreciated): “Ken Herman needs to ask his wife what she thinks about this. I’ll bet she will agree with me. The restroom is one of the places where women and girls are most vulnerable. I vote for leaving the restroom policy as it has been for generations.”

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK: Our Lone Star Politics page brings Capitol news to your Facebook feed

Asking my wife always is a good idea. So I did. Here’s what journalist Sharon Jayson, a lifelong user of the female bathroom, has to say: “Chris Sale’s letter asking my opinion on whether women and girls are more vulnerable to attacks in restrooms surprised me and every other woman I asked about Sale’s theory. I’ve never felt vulnerable in a restroom nor have I worried that I might be attacked in a restroom and neither has anyone I know.

“If two or more women happen to go to the restroom at the same time, it’s not part of a plan to ward off attackers. It’s as simple as when someone mentions it, someone else might say they might as well go, too. Protection has nothing to do with it. Worrying about being attacked has nothing to do with it. No one I know has ever been attacked in a restroom nor have they expressed a concern about it. Sorry, Chris Sale. I cannot agree with you,” she said.

And I agree with my wife. Always do. I recommend it to all husbands.

Recently, as Sharon and I arrived at the Austin airport from an out-of-town trip, we engaged in the first activity we always enjoy after a flight. Sadly, it’s something that draws us apart.

We both noted how nice it will be when we can both go to the same bathroom.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Facebook comments: April 22, 2018
Facebook comments: April 22, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Jonathan Tilove, Alex Jones and InfoWars have been sued by the parents of children killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Conn. The lawsuit centers on Jones suggesting the death of their children was a “hoax.” Tilove wrote the case “could be a landmark Austin...
Herman: Taylor dealing with its train spotting problem
Herman: Taylor dealing with its train spotting problem

Back in January 2017 one of my favorite columnists at this paper, reporting on an Amtrak trip, wrote this about the first stop north of Austin: “Bless Taylor’s heart,” I wrote, “the Amtrak view of the city isn’t what you’d call a chamber of commerce dream. The downtown view from the train features a building...
Commentary: We’re suing to stop the hijacking of Travis County votes
Commentary: We’re suing to stop the hijacking of Travis County votes

After seven years — and three election cycles — of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the Texas congressional redistricting lawsuit against then-Gov. Rick Perry and the state of Texas beginning this week. As two of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, we sought to reverse unconstitutional gerrymandering and minority voter disenfranchisement...
CASTILLO: Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage
CASTILLO: Why the ‘hyphenated Americanism’ comment triggered outrage

The recent decision by the State Board of Education to approve an elective course for Mexican-American studies in Texas high schools should have triggered triumphant celebrations among the scholars and advocates who worked for years to make the curriculum a reality. Instead, many came away feeling like they were history’s losers once more. &ldquo...
Facebook comments: April 22, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Ben Wear, Austin is in the midst of a scooter war, as companies offering dockless scooter rentals have sprung up in Austin. Bird Rides put out its scooters April 5. Some were impounded by the city through April 12, then returned to the company and appeared back on city streets. LimeBike then released more...
More Stories