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Published September 11, 2012

Men and women are very different creatures. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the bathroom.

The first time I ever stepped inside a women's bathroom was during elementary school, on a poorly-supervised field trip to the museum. It was the first bathroom I'd ever seen with overlapping walls instead of a door. Hey, I figured, no door, no foul. Actually, other kids figured this, and I figured, "safety in numbers."

The ladies' was beautiful. Leather couches, high ceilings, vending machines. And clean. For the first time I was able to reconcile my notion of public bathrooms with the eagerness of women to accompany their friends to the commode.

Men's rooms are not pleasant. They are universally smelly, dirty, poorly lit, and full of men. Barring an emergency, I wouldn't go into a men's bathroom unless you paid me. Historically I accept minimum wage.

The one advantage to men's bathrooms, though, is that there are rarely long lines. Men get in and get out, even forgoing hand washing in times of crisis or laziness. But there is another reason for men's bathroom efficiency, the result of bathroom innovation—unfortunately, this is not the field of our best and brightest. This well-intentioned but otherwise imbecilic innovator came up with what might be the most misguided and ill-conceived invention since the horseless-buggy alarm. I'm talking, of course, about the urinal.

To illustrate the poor concept and its even worse execution, I will henceforth refer to toilets as poopinals. And I will do so sparingly, because that's disgusting.

Women tend to be so enamored with the concept of peeing while standing that they fail to realize it isn't all calligraphy and distance competitions. Unlike a normal toilet where the receptacle is filled with fresh water, a urinal relies on pure porcelain—not a splash-resistant material. As a result, billions of men are misted with biohazardous material on a continual basis. The reason real men never wear shorts is to ensure splashback is always absorbed by their pants, and later, a friend's couch cushion, affectionate feline, or infant son.

There is only one effective method of reducing rebound, which is to take a large step backward. The problem with this is that it leaves the man standing in the middle of a crowded room with his genitals exposed, which can be awkward in any variety of social settings. Outside of Mardi Gras, I personally do not like to expose my genitalia in public at all. It's a matter of privacy. And humility.

There is a solution, though: an opaque divider called a splash guard, installed between each urinal. This once again unsubtle name should suggest that using a urinal without such a device causes one to be splashed by a neighbor's urine. The horrifying fact, however, is that many bathrooms do not employ splash guards. Sure, women put up with child birth maybe once or twice in a lifetime, but men are subjected to daily urine splatter. There's no analgesic for that.

Some bathrooms even forgo urinals in favor of a long trough, in which men are expected to line up by the dozens, sometimes facing each other, and unzip. Why does anyone think this is OK? That just because we're men we don't care? If I were to expose myself to anyone, I would frankly prefer it be a woman. Speaking of whom, ladies, back me up here. You would not tolerate a bathroom without dividers between poopinals. So why should men be expected to make water in front of co-workers, friends, family—not to mention paparazzi. The Internet is already rife with nipple slips; the last thing any of us needs is to stumble across a photo of Pauly Shore's junk, which would invariably come up in image searches for the “weasel.”

The modest man, when faced with crowded urinals, will head for a stall. The unfortunate result of this, since most men have imperfect aim but no desire to touch a toilet seat with their bare hands, is that these seats become veritable--nay, literal--cesspools. This is problematic for any unfortunate man with a more desperate need for a poopinal. I suspect it is this incredible exposure to germs that has strengthened men into the invulnerable fighting machines we are today, sadly reducing chicken soup and chocolate pudding to mere cottage industries.

Despite their drawbacks, urinals are more efficient, with both time and water, than standard poopinals. NASA scientists shouldn't be wasting their time on sending Roombas to Mars; they should be inventing splash-less porcelain. But until then, I, Justin Hook, am proclaiming myself champion of the mandatory urinal splash guard, and demanding they be required by law. A wide splash guard allows men to step back, reducing contamination and providing a modicum of privacy. By alleviating these major problems, splash guards in turn keep poopinals clean, lines short, and men dignified.

Not since Hitler's condoms have such thin barriers been able to stop so much evil.

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