Davy Jones' Water Closet

Washington Times October 5, 2000
By Stuart Miller

The wacky proposal by Vice Admiral John B. Nathman, commander of the Pacific Fleet Air Command, to remove all urinals from aircraft carriers and replace them with S4 gender neutral water closets reeks of political correctness run fantastically amok. While some may consider the admiral's recommendation to be progressive thinking, it has raised eyebrows among social and fiscal conservatives and moderates alike. When the astronomical costs are weighed against the benefits, the modifications can't be justified by any logic, reason or rationale.

The question has to be asked: Just who will benefit from this action? Taxpayers won't. The vast majority of sailors (male) won't. Female sailors won't because just like women at every public rest room all over the world, they will probably still have to squat over the toilet seats anyway to avoid sitting in the splatter of urine on the seats. The contractors who get the lucrative contracts for the toilet installations will benefit. They'll be laughing at Navy folly all the way to the bank. Finally, Mr. Nathman will benefit in the short-term. He'll gain some major brownie points with the feminists and other hypersensitive, confused stink-raisers.

Taxpayers are being ripped off for somewhere in the neighborhood of $160,000 per woman in the air-wing carrier command, to placate somebody's radical feminist demands to make men sit down to urinate. Hold on, you say; that is a major leap in logic. Normally, I would agree with you, but one can't help but wonder where the admiral conceived his plan. Was it after reading John Leo's insightful reporting in his syndicated column Aug. 17, four weeks before the admiral's pipe-rattling announcement?

According to the article, some feminists in Sweden, Germany and Australia are demanding a ban on all urinals. Their argument is that a man standing up to urinate is deemed to be triumphing in his masculinity, and by extension, degrading women. But it is not just degrading, another spokeswoman said; a man standing up to urinate is a nasty macho gesture, suggestive of male violence. The article is replete with surveys on percentages of people who think men should be made to sit down to urinate, as well as an anecdotal quote from a woman who dumps her boyfriends who insist on standing. Now, one has to seriously question the mental health of women so obsessed with their own twisted perceptions of male superiority that they must even dictate how men urinate.

Most women would agree that not only is this a non-issue to them personally but it sounds like these angry, befuddled women need some serious psychoanalysis to help them accept the reality of their own anatomy - or a sex change operation - far more than they need new toilets. Ludicrous? Ridiculous? Well, the rabid toilet activists have already succeeded in having urinals removed from at least one elementary school in Sweden and are most of the way toward removing urinals in most of their universities. And the Defense Administration Committee on Women In The Service (DACOWITS) is well-known for its radical-feminist activism; most recently, for its push to place women in submarines for months at a time cannot be excluded as the impetus behind this measure.

To throw a worn feminist line back into the argument: Can't women do everything men can do? Sure they can; and there's even a cheap, sanitary and simple solution to solve the God-given anatomy issue. A handy, reusable, $4 device (shaped like a man's athletic protector cup, but with a tube) which allows a woman to stand up and urinate. This would allow female sailors the "choice" (the feminist mantra) of using a urinal, or using the standard toilet right next to the urinal and would save the American taxpayers a couple hundred thousand dollars per woman in the air command. Not a bad deal, especially if the new waterless urinals were implemented, saving additional money on waste treatment, not to mention time reclamation. Urinals are very time-efficient.

Women are here to stay in the military - but let's not lose common sense because of it. Haven't we already made too many injudicious concessions by lowering standards to accommodate women without consideration of the impact on our military readiness or the consequent demoralization suffered by our servicemen? Are we really going to sit back and allow one misguided vice admiral to exacerbate their low morale by making them lower their trousers to urinate, too? This proposal is not just an extravagant fleecing of the American taxpayer. Let's call it what it really is - a symbolic genuflection at the altar of feminist fury; an ingratiating attempt by Mr. Nathman to mollify the angry buzzing of a few loud radical feminists whose perverse ambition to emasculate our male soldiers by gender neutralizing every nook and cranny of military life runs contrary to the best interests of the American people and their military.

Stuart Miller is a political analyst who works on gender issues in Washington.

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