Two bills are currently under consideration—Senate Bill 1358 and Senate Bill 1350. Together, these bills would facilitate an effort towards equal childcare responsibilities among Californian couples by allowing men access to baby changing tables in public restrooms.
The first measure, Senate Bill 1358, would require public facilities — including movie theaters, sports arenas, libraries, and restaurants — to make sure there are changing stations “accessible to both men and women.” Senate Bill 1350 doesn’t require public buildings to go back and add changing stations to existing bathrooms, but specifies that changing tables should be “equally available or provided regardless of the gender for which the restroom facilities are designed” if they’re being added in the future.
The topic has attracted a lot of attention as of late. Many Californians are excited about this potential change. It is a start, they say. It’s something.
However, what I find interesting is not necessarily the potential change itself but the way that it is portrayed and discussed. The fact that this article about baby changing tables in men’s restrooms received over 31, 700 Facebook likes implies that there is something intriguing about it; there is something interesting, maybe even unusual about it.
In my freshman year at UCLA, I took a year-long course that explored sex and gender from both a biological and social perspective. During lecture, one of my professors pointed out how much more attention we give to men with babies than women. New fathers are a sort of spectacle on the streets and in the parks. Something to ooh and aww at. That is to say, by reacting so strongly to men with babies, we reinforce the idea that men do not, and perhaps should not, take care of their own babies.
Personally, I hope that increasing the availability of these changing stations for men will normalize the day to day duties of parenting within a typically male context—and eventually promote the idea of equal parenting.
To read the full article, click here.
Post submitted by JoAnna