image: parc

In the UK and Ireland, public loos are separated into two genders, each of which hidden by an airlock of doors to prevent, I presume, prying eyes. Two genders are decreed—thy shalt be one or the other, and never mind that biology is messy.

When I started living on the continent, I came to understand that all this is a bit of the British fetish. I very rarely see a toilet airlock here: double doors are unusual. Anyone bizarrely nosy can easily see into the other gender’s toilet if they so wish, although I’ve never seen anyone stop and peek.

Indeed, toilet doors are often blocked open (which I’ll admit, as a Brit, makes me uncomfortable; those passing outside can see I’m having a pee). Toilet doors can even be the American cowboy saloon bar type. There are quite a few loos here that are not gender separated at all; women pass the urinals to get to the stalls.

There’s simply less of a fetish here about a natural function that we all have to do. I suspect that’s psychologically healthier.