Helping the Minoritized Achieve in Academic Science

What the Hell?

I need a laugh. Don’t you? I am super stressed about the election. I am working on my third of five federal proposals due this fall. Why are all the deadlines in Fall semester? Today, we had an awesome woman seminar speaker for one of the interdisciplinary programs I am in. I met with her, and we discussed politics and science. I probably should have worked harder to impress her, but she was too cool, and I was just happy to talk.

I had my normal back-to-back meetings, but I did get to go into the lab this afternoon and work with my students. It was fun, even if nothing works when I go in to work with them (somehow it works when either they or I am doing it, but not together – no idea why).

After that, I went to the late afternoon seminar. I set my stuff down and went into the women’s room. There was a few privacy switchbacks and then three stalls. I opened the first one and saw this:


I wasn’t exactly surprised to see this. My building and several others that were built at the same time all have these in the women’s rooms (same wall tiles, stalls, and floor tiles, too). I made an out-loud comment, “Ugh, stupid weird potty,” or something like that.

I didn’t realize that there was anyone in the far stall. It was the speaker, and she had heard my muffled complaint. She commented, “I noticed that, but what is it? I have never seen anything like that in all my life.”

And honestly folks, I have no Earthly idea what this is. Here are our best guesses and the rationale for each.

  1. It is a men’s urinal. But, if so, why is it sideways and filled with water? Why not a urinal on the wall? Let’s assume there was a time when the women’s room was a men’s room. That makes sense in some buildings – the graduate tower, for instance that only has one bathroom on each floor. If, when built in the 1960’s people did not expect ANY women (not even secretaries?) to use the bathrooms, then all the floors would only have men’s rooms. In the tower, the bathrooms alternate if they are for men or women, but I think they have the same type of toilets in the stalls. Here is another weird thing about this. In my building and the building where I took this picture, on the other side of the wall is a men’s room. I can only assume it is a mirror image of the women’s room. So, does that mean it was a double-sized men’s room they split in half? If so, why were the stalls back-to-back? How could they have been adjoined? I find this very weird.
  2. It is a women’s urinal. Is it possible that this is a urinal for women? If so, how are you supposed to use it? Are you supposed to face it? Sit on it like a regular toilet? In all honesty, I have used it. I literally just sit on it. It really just needs a 3D printed seat to sit on top, and it would be perfectly fine. Since no one uses it, this urinal/toilet is very clean in the women’s room.

Other questions come to mind, like:

  • Why have them at all? Even if all the bathrooms were for men originally, why have urinals? Why not have stalls only?
  • Which company made these? When and where? Are there instructions?
  • Finally, in a business setting, why do we even have men’s and women’s rooms? I know everyone says men’s rooms are gross, but seriously, if all the toilets are in stalls – even the urinals – what is the difference? I know I might be in the minority about this, but it would make things easier for our transgender students, if they didn’t have to choose – and give women more stalls.

The point of this post was to entertain and talk about something that wasn’t the election. I hope it made you smile. Comment or post, if you feel like. Push the +Follow button to get an email every time I post.

Comments on: "What the Hell?" (9)

  1. Love this. I do not know what this is. But yes. It did make me smile.

  2. I’ve been to European unisex bathrooms, frankly, I don’t care what sex or lack thereof the person in the next stall is. I’m there to void waste, not for entertainment value. If I want entertainment, I’ll bring my ebook in with me.

    As for that device, hanged if I ever saw such a thing before, however, I’ve saw a very, very similarly shaped model built into the floor when I was deployed to the Persian Gulf. Google squat toilet.
    They’re not designed to be sat down upon, but squatted over.
    While they’re supposed to be healthier for one’s bowel, my wife and I couldn’t use them due to lumbar disc disease.
    Still, some people are more comfortable using them. It comes down to what one is accustomed to and individual preference.
    Or capability. Frankly, I’m a male in my mid-50’s with a herniated lumbar disc. I sit well over 50% of the time, as otherwise, I’m dealing with a cane, pants, etc.

  3. Why are all the deadlines in Fall semester?

    Oh, I neglected to mention that dirty government secret. Three words.
    New Fiscal Year.
    August through September is spent getting rid of excess funding, lest that agency/department/unit be rebudged by the expended amount of the previous year.
    1 October rolls around, they’re rolling in new fiscal year dough.

    I literally saw SOCCENT clear a warehouse full of state of the art network equipment in September, then replace it in October. By getting rid of, I mean DRMO auction for pennies on the thousands of dollars.
    All, to justify next year’s budget.

    And yes, I’m being as serious as advanced metastatic cancer.

  4. Not something I’d want to use — I don’t recall ever seeing these anywhere else in the US!

  5. LadyUrinal said:

    I always wondered about this one in my time at UState. I always assumed it was a women’s urinal and you just hovercrafted/squatted over it. I used it frequently because there was sometimes a line for this bathroom and no one ever wanted to use it! I didn’t mind and it saved me time!

  6. SeniorTrailingSpouse said:

    This is not isolated to UState. There were similar contraptions in at least three of the men’s-rooms-converted-into-women’s-rooms in one of the engineering buildings and in the physics building at my undergraduate institution (and maybe in more buildings, I can’t recall now). I was also confused by these when I first saw them, but since I saw them in more than one “converted” bathroom, I assumed that this fixture was somehow cheaper to work in with whatever plumbing already exists with urinals because it is narrower than a normal toilet. So, if you have an existing men’s room that is small and has just enough room for a stall with a regular toilet, a urinal, and a sink, you can fit in one of these thingys where the urinal is without having to move the sink or existing plumbing lines. I’m sure this fixture is not designed for converted bathrooms, it just happened to be a convenient width. I would also squat/hover it to use it.

    I was not surprised when I saw this at UState, I thought this was “normal” for a women’s room in a STEM building, or at least not unusual. So, I guess I’m glad that it is considered unusual now!! Progress!

    Yes, definitely in need of a laugh (and a reminder of the progress that women have made) with this election. So stressed about it! Thanks, WOS.

  7. […] week, the crazy potties (see picture) have been replaced by regular potties in my building! See my previous post about these crazy […]

  8. I am a man but ,I remember as a kid ,seeing these in woman’s restrooms ,when I was going to restroom with my mother. I asked my mom what was it . Men’s urinals don’t look that enlongated in the front. So , as a kid you forget things that are not important.So this is where my story gets weird.I went to a business high school in cleveland ,ohio called Jane Adams. Jane adams,was a all girls school,until 1992 ,then it co-ed. So my first day of school nature called so I went to the men’s room and as I walked in there were only stalls .I thought I must have walked in the wrong bathroom , so I walked back out quickly because I didn’t want someone to think I was perv ,walking into the woman’s restroom,but sign said “Boy’s”I opened the first stall and saw this weird looking toilet urinal.It instantly put me back to my childhood seeing them in women’s mom was a single mom ,so i seen a lot of ladies room until I was about 5 and thenI went to the men’s. So asI seen this weird extremely long urinal toilet,I got more confused on why there was toilet paper in this stall with this weird looking urinal.There is never toilet paper in men’s room next to the urinal.It just didn’t make sence.I actually ,went to the school nurse to ask questions. So She explained to me that it was once any all girls school,that webt co-ed and that they were female urinals.She said, what’s more funny she has so many of the girls over the years ,wanting to know what kind od toilet that was in there bathroom.She explained there called “sanistand ” She said there were invented in the 1950’s because it was during an era where women”s main complaint about public toilets were so unhygience.So they designed these females urinals so you didn’t have to touch them .You would squart over them and do your business with out sit on them. So ,I asked why the toilet paper in the boy”s. Restrooms since it now a boy’s restroom.and she said it can also be used as a regular toilet as well as a urinal.So, there were 6 stalls and the first two are ” Sanistand”. What ,I can tell you .they were made 1950’s until 1970’s and there were discontinued due to fact.Woman were. Not excepting as American stanard thought that they would be. And ,every women who”s every talked about them thought that it was a man’s urinal .and when they did find out it was a woman’s urinal ,then like you the question was how do I use it.But , like you ,I had to go number 2 so bad and all the stalll were full I sat on it for a number 2 and In ever did that before but it wasn’t bad sitting on it ,even though your not suppose too.I know that wad probably to much information , but if I would have never talked to the school nurse6 I would “nt have known that it can be a urinal and also used as regular. To still see theses female urinals are rare.

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