The Weekly Stripe – 24.01.20
Technology can tell us much about the society we live in, what is prioritized, which needs are part of public discourse and those which remain remarkably silent. Toilets and sanitation tends to be in the latter category, nevertheless there is much to learn about a society from its public toilets. They can tell us about access to sanitation, about gender roles and behaviours, about transport and eating (as many public toilets are in petrol stations or restaurants), about architecture, and much more.
Large segments of the population depend on easy access to toilet facilities during the day and the decrease in public toilets has made an active life outside the home infinitely more difficult for them.
A short film, from the ‘Around the Toilet’ research project at Sheffield Hallam University, about the ways in which everyday journeys are planned around the availability of a suitable toilet, featuring stories from a range of toilet users, including women truck drivers, disabled parents, and non-binary people.
In India, the absence of access to toilets nationally resulted in a government promise to build 100 million new public toilets to prevent open defecation.
ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) developed a standard for public toilets – not for general public access, but to ensure a good experience for tourists as toilet experiences were recognized as a “vital component in the tourism industry that can make or break the tourist experience”.
From the pissoir to the sanisette, from the communal to the stand-alone pod, from male to female provision, a rich seam of history runs through toilets.