Saturday, September 08, 2018

Paris' new uritrottoirs provide poor optics in more ways than one

An interesting article in today's Globe and Mail explains about the city of Paris latest attempt to "deal with" the fact that French men appear to feel justified, for reasons no-one else understands, in peeing in the street.
Les pipis sauvages - yes, it literally means "wild peeing" - is a perennial blot on the the cosmopolitan and highly-civilized City of Light, a practice so endemic that most Frenchmen would probably not even see it as a problem at all. It's not like the city is not well-served with public toilets: Paris has 400 accessible on-street public washrooms, know as sanisettes, 150 of which are open 24/7. That is much more than many cities can boast. But still they unload in street corners and public buildings with nary a thought, creating stink and health hazards for all.
But now Paris has installed a bunch of uritrottoirs (urinoir + trottoirs: sidewalk urinals), small pieces of street furniture with the apparent purpose of allowing men behaving badly to do with greater ease. These brightly coloured boxes, topped with some jolly flowers - they are a similar size and colour to Canadian mailboxes, make of that what you will - allow men, but not of course women, who have much greater need, to do their pipis sauvages en plein aire, with offficial municipal endorsement, by peeing into the mail slot, so to speak.
To me, as a guy, it's kind of gross. To French women, it must be a real slap in the face: the city had funds available for public toilets and they gave them all to men? Poor optics at the very least, and in more than one way.

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