When I walked to the women’s restroom at Foster’s Market before sitting down, there was a woman standing outside who stopped me and said, “You can’t go in there.”
“Pardon?” I said.
“There’s a man changing his daughter in there,” she said. “There’s no changing table in the men’s room.”
Immediately I thought of the fantastic column I could write about how the oppressive society we live in is perpetuated by the assumption that only the “fairer sex” could possibly be charged with changing babies’ diapers.
And I was right … sort of.
I still believe the part about living in an oppressive society.
But the part about the changing tables is what got in the way of my brilliant prose.
To test my little theory, I recruited my friend Gray to help me explore the men’s restrooms in some of the restaurants on Franklin Street.
So, on Tuesday afternoon, we started at the intersection of Church Street and Franklin Street and headed east.
The first place we went was Caribou Coffee: Changing table in the women’s restroom, but not in the men’s.
Yes! That, plus Foster’s, equals two points for Abbey.
But the more we uncomfortably walked through restaurants, feigning to look for “friends we’re meeting,” the fewer points I racked up.
Qdoba: Yes for women, yes for men. Starbucks: Yes for women, yes for men. Jack Sprat and McAlister’s, too.
There went my theory. Perhaps our society isn’t as misogynistic as I thought?
Maybe sexism is a thing of the past?
Hey, if Hillary did it, so can we!
But I’m not so sure about that.
We mustn’t forget about Caribou and Foster’s. I love Caribou, and Foster’s is great. But despite their irresistible menus, neither one has a changing table in the men’s room, while they indeed have one in the women’s.
Out of the 12 restaurants Gray and I slipped into, plus Foster’s, we found seven that didn’t have them in the men’s or women’s restrooms, four that had them in both, and two that had them in only the women’s restroom.
But out of 13, none of them had a changing table in only the men’s room.
It might not be as damning as my original hypothesis, but it’s certainly something to think about. I’m not advocating for restaurants to install changing tables in the men’s room and rip them out of women’s rooms just to prove a point.
What I am saying is that there should never be one without the other. But clearly Franklin Street is slightly more equal than I presumed. However, it’s not quite there yet.
This could serve as a metaphor for us.
We (women and men) shouldn’t be satisfied with “we’re getting there,” “at least it’s something” or “that’s good enough.”
If people had said that in years past, we wouldn’t be even close to where we are today.
Maybe they’re just changing tables, and maybe you, like me, don’t want to think about changing babies’ diapers for a long, long time.
But there are lots of people who do.
And without those who refused to settle for four out of 13, the wait to use the women’s room would be even longer.
Abbey is a senior journalism and international studies major from Charlotte. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org