Last month, Ashton Kutcher bemoaned the lack of diaper changing stations in men’s rooms via a status update on his Facebook page:
He caused the rest of us to say, “Yeah. What the hell?” Fathers are more involved in raising their children than they have ever been. According to a 2013 CDC study, “nine out of 10 fathers (90%) who lived with children under age five bathed, diapered, or dressed the children, or helped them bathe, dress, or use the toilet ‘every day’ or ‘several times a week.’”
Clearly, it makes sense that diaper changing tables be more accessible to fathers – and one New York state senator is pushing for just that. State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill last Friday that would mandate equal access to diaper changing tables for men and women. He told The Huffington Post that leaving diaper changing stations out of men’s rooms represents “an anachronism that reflects the bias toward women being the caregiver.” It certainly is an old-fashioned notion that mothers are the only ones who are tending to their children in public spaces. Hoylman says, “In addition to same sex couples of men and men in heterosexual couples, there are also a lot of single male parents out there too.”
If the bill passes, any new public building or “place of public accommodation, resort, or amusement” will be required to provide diaper changing stations in men’s bathrooms if they are providing them in women’s.
The idea that changing a diaper is a gendered activity is just dumb. Times are changing; we’re finally realizing you don’t need boobs to secure a diaper on an infant. Getting diaper changing stations into men’s rooms may seem like a small step, but it sends a clear message: fathers take care of this stuff, too. Moms shouldn’t be expected to be the “default” caregiver in any situation because society hasn’t caught up with our changing family dynamics.