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Updated: Apr 26


a toilet monster

The American bathroom situation is a joke to much of the world.


I went down to a local in Ixelles the other night, an alternative-style place called L’Athnee, which has an interior that looks like it was a barely rehabilitated squat (not squat beer prices though!). The place was unsurprisingly packed, given it was Saturday night and next to a fairly popular nightlife area.


When I went down to the toilet downstairs—because toilets here are always on the other floor—and I immediately remembered the trans toilet debate. As I remember every time I head off to the splash studio.


Brussels has a very weird situation about bathrooms in that they’re very much an afterthought. They’re usually clean and hygienic, don’t get me wrong, but they’re often with very odd setups that would never fly in the US. Mainly it seems the theme is, “We’re all adults here, just piss.” Whereas in the US, people would absolutely freak.


For example…


  • One urinal wasn’t even in the café… or the bathroom. It was in a hall under the stairs, and offices or residences are upstairs. So you stand there to pee, look to the left and watch the people come in and go up the stairs. 

  • Another bar, men have to walk through the women’s toilet to get to the men’s.

  • In a sushi restaurant, there’s a urinal right next to the shared sink. Like splashing distance next to it.

  • Many places just use the same room, the same toilets. And people are expected to, again, be effing adults.

  • There’s one outdoor urinal—or what they call for unknown reasons a “uritrottoir”—in the center that looks like a mailbox. And the side walls aren’t even high enough to block the view of your postage. At least, I hope that was a urinal, because if not…


  • Most parks have a lot of areas with really thick undergrowth and lots of trees. Those are public toilets.

  • And on top of all that nonsense, a lot of places will charge you for the toilet. Like, I understand a public toilet charging, because it’s basically a business. But a club charging for the toilet seems counterproductive. I left one club. Why would I drink there? I’d just drink less because I wouldn’t want to have to skip to the loo.

  • Or worse, the cinema was charging for the bathroom the first time I went (they seem to have dropped that bladder criminality).

  • Festival urinoirs. The “urinoir” is a somewhat concealed, prepared place to pee. They are usually at wherever there’s a long line of portapotties. By providing urinoirs, they free up the portapotties to the ladies who might need them. I actually love these things, because there’s something weirdly liberating about peeing out the open and having it be perfectly acceptable. These are different than “pissoirs” because pissoirs are permanent installations. And yes, these are actual French words.

  • No public toilet? Pull out a euro and offer one to the nearest bar. They'll most likely let you head up/down the stairs. This is a general rule throughout Europe.

  • McD's of course is a public pisserie just as it is in the US. But unlike in the US, the majority of the pissing is in the toilets and they charge.

BELGIUM AND PEE

Belgium has a strange relationship with pee. There is of course, the fact that the national hero is a pissing baby, and the overabundance of pissing statues, which includes said baby, a little squatting girl, and a dog.


 

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Public peeing is pretty common, because of the pure lack of toilets in most public areas. It’s not France or the Netherlands, where France has FREE clean toilets in every park on nearly every corner, all of them with chemical showers to keep them clean, and the Netherlands has futuristic toilets that rise from the ground at the push of a button – if only they detected when you needed to pee (though to be fair, the Netherlands was forced to deal with this issue because of what the Dutch call, “wild peeing”, that is, drunk guys peeing into the canal and then falling in and drowning, which remarkably has a higher death rate than murders).


In Belgium, the capital of Europe, not so much. But that’s why businesses in Brussels have gotten together and formed a coalition of public toilets in Brussels. Many cafes and bars don’t mind it when you rush in in need of a pee. Maybe because their toilet is in the hallway anyway.


There’s a map here if you need it. And they identify themselves with the handy sticker next to what forms of payment they may or may not take.


pee for free
Pee for free at this sign

THE AMERICAN ISSUE

For my non-American friends, there has been a neverending and incoherent debate about transgenders using the restroom and why apparently it should be everyone's business on which restroom they choose, because pedophiles are active in public restrooms and public toilets are also a place for children. The debate got so bad that people were even volunteering to "check" if a person was transgender or not. Yeah, I find a guy wanting to check for transgenders a bit more disturbing (and more likely to be a pedo), than a transgender. They even keep trying to pass laws on it.


And as much as the common conservative says, “I don’t care what your preference is, just keep it out of my face”—many transgenders are wanting to do just that. They want to use the toilet where they’re most comfortable. And when they do that, you most likely wouldn’t even know that, unless you’re sticking their preference into your face.


But it's election time, so we've got to make every g-damned thing a political issue. Which includes others' private affairs that I could care less about.


Just be adults, Americans. Use the toilet. Wash your hands. Get the fuck out. It’s not a hangout. The only people who should be standing around in the toilet are Instagram influencers. You don’t have to monitor pissers’ orientation. It’s ain’t your business, don’t make it your business.


And why are you so sure that a transgender is remotely interested in your fat little whiny Switch-bot pre-teen anyway? Trans doesn’t mean pedophile.


Nobody in Europe, at least as far as I know, is worried about pedophiles lurking in the public toilet, because pedophiles usually don’t strike in there. They’re more often striking at homes, churches, and other places where you’re supposed to be able to trust people. But anyway, if someone is lurking in the public toilet, does it matter if they’re trans? Just ban pedos from public toilets.

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