Women finally get seats in the House
posted at 8:48 am on December 2, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
If a woman’s place is in the House, why then did it take until now for female Representatives to get the same access to bathroom facilities as men? In one of John Boehner’s opening moves as the new Speaker of the House, he will order the conversion of the Parliamentarian’s office into a women’s restroom that will give the same access to facilities as the men have:
Incoming House Speaker John Boehner is tearing down the Parliamentarian’s office to build female members of Congress a restroom.
Currently, only male lawmakers are afforded the ability to walk steps from the House floor to use the restroom. Women must walk across Statuary Hall to the Lindy Claiborne Boggs room, but the 71 women who will serve in the 112th Congress will be able to walk out the Democratic side of the chamber straight to the bathroom.
Andrew Malcolm notes the irony of finally getting equal treatment as a result of having the first woman Speaker lose her position:
For some reason it took a male Speaker of the House to accomplish this:
The nearly six dozen female members of the incoming House of Representatives will have a new restroom just as close to the chamber’s floor as their male colleagues. A sometimes significant comfort, given legislators’ propensity to blather. …
Until now female members have had to traipse much farther than male colleagues to find restroom facilities, even during these past four years of leadership under the country’s first female speaker.
The contrast is certainly amusing, but the greater hypocrisy lies with the entire Congress. Imagine how loudly Congress would shriek if it discovered a disparity in facility access that favored men in the private sector, or for that matter, even the public sector. Why, members would thunder about equality and discrimination from the House floor, demanding respect for women and probably passing some bill that they might call the Potty Parity Act to enforce it.
Actually, don’t bother to imagine it. That actually took place in March of this year:
Lawmakers concerned about a shortage of women’s restrooms in federal buildings introduced the “Potty Parity Act” on Thursday to ensure equal access for men and women in future federal buildings and in facilities leased by the government.
Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hope to establish an equal number of toilets for men and women at government buildings. They note that some private employers have laid off women instead of expanding facilities.
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the bill’s lead sponsor and the chairman of the oversight panel, said in a statement that he is concerned about “exasperating lines” and general restroom accommodations for women in government buildings. Part of the problem stems from buildings constructed decades ago, before women joined the federal workforce in large numbers, he said.
“Our nation’s history shows that the structure and accessibility of American public restrooms have served as manifestations of more deeply rooted problems of discrimination, among race, physical ability and gender,” Towns said in a statement. “In 2010, we must move the clock forward by finally addressing an overdue problem of unequal, inadequate and inaccessible public restrooms for women.”
Ah, Congress. Always leading by example. And so we come not to the conclusion that Nancy Pelosi’s term as the first woman Speaker didn’t really benefit women, but to the conclusion that Congress apparently considers itself above the same laws it passes and principles it espouses. Perhaps that might improve under John Boehner, but perhaps it means that voters will have to repeatedly deliver the message that Representatives are public servants and not an American nobility.
Breaking on Hot Air