22 October 2009

Question O' The Day

(Photograph copyright 2009, all rights reserved)

Oh dear. Here it is the end of the day, and I'm finally getting to this. This is a question from The Boy - it would have to be, since we women don't tend to frequent men's washrooms, right? I'm sure there's a real answer to this one, too.

In all men's bathrooms, no matter where you go, there is always one urinal set way down close to the floor. Someone posited that they were for kids, but then why do they exist where kids don't go, like bars? They can't be for disabled people, because in many places the toilets are located either up or down a narrow flight of stairs. They have them in other countries, too, so it's not just an American thing.

So help us out here.

What are the lowest of the low urinals FOR in men's restrooms?


  1. My former karate instructor, a Japanese native, said that Japanese urinals are pretty much just holes in the ground, and all men must squat to relieve themselves.

    Have we been accomodating Japanese men all this time??

    But really, I've been trying to make my answer somehow about my beloved poop-flinging monkeys, but am coming up empty. So I'll go with... REALLY well-hung guys need them that low, to avoid injury on normal-height ones. There. I made a crude joke!

  2. Huh. Most of the men's rooms I've been in didn't have that. Wonder if it's to accommodate 'little people'?

    And no, you pervs, I've not been visiting many men's rooms so I don't know if I'm accurately representing things or not, but I have worked in gas stations (cleaning the bathrooms was part of the job), done statistics for the football team (so got to see the inside of a few locker rooms when the boys weren't all nudie in there), and worked as a janitor at a couple of banks, among other things.

  3. I got news for you - there are many, many public toilets in Japan that have squatters for women, too. This is pretty entertaining for we freakishly tall (only 5'8", not so tall here) North American types who aren't accustomed to bending that way. Most of them are in public parks and train stations, but when you gotta go, you gotta go.

    Having watched the Japanese ladies going in and out of the loos, I have to say that those squatters are probably a large part of the reason why you see so many extremely healthy elderly ladies and so very few truly obese people. It takes a certain amount of flexibility and strength to manage in there, and I suspect that the wildly overweight would have targeting issues.

    I can't even imagine how anyone would manage a squatter if they were pregnant. The balance problem alone is mind-boggling.

  4. Well, for Japanese traditional toilets, it mostly takes practice. I lived for 2 months in Tokyo, and our school only had one traditional woemn's toilet. That and all the freaking walking gives you the legs of steel! I'm also 5'8", and some of those park toilets are a joke. I couldn't close the door and go at the same time. D:

    Not sure about what pregnant women do though. All I know is that I gave my seat on the train up for them and the elderly. I became an instant gaijin darling! *laughs*

    And, on to the real question:

    My guess it's for short guys. Either those that have dwarfism, or those that just aren't average height. As there are women that are 4 foot nothing, I'm sure there are men not suffering from a disorder that are also 4 foot nothing and hate needing a boost to use a normal urinal.

    That or there are some really feisty wheel chair guys that don't want the toilet and just whip it out and go. *shrugs*

  5. I didn't go for the little people theory for a couple of reasons. First, we'd all know the answer because there would have been a lawsuit, right? Second, if the low urinals are potty parity for little people, then why aren't there lower toilets in the ladies' rooms?

  6. It may be required by law to have at least one short urinal. Last year, the plant I work at remodeled the locker rooms for line workers. Despite being an industrial factory that does not, and can not, employ workers in wheelchairs, we were still required to install wheelchair accessible toilet stalls.

  7. Midgets and Mexicans. I've seen both using those floor urinals, presumably because they'd need a stepstool or a stack of phone books to reach the "normal" urinals.

    Look at enough Central Americans and you realize their average height is so low that as a statistical matter some of them aren't going to reach.

  8. I've always heard these squating toilets referred to as Turkish toilets. There used to be a lot of them in Southern France as well and also in other places.

    Years ago I once stayed with some friends in Paris. They did have a lovely bathroom but no toilet. The toilet was outside of the apartment down the hall. So I went to it and it was a Turkish style one. As I was squatting and thinking how disorienting the whold thing was because of jet lag and culture shock, the light went out because it was on a timer outside in the hallway! So it was pitch dark, and and... I can't remember how I found my way out of there but I must have, since I'm here!