Toilet paper problems
I’m working on a project for my Physical Computing midterm, its called ‘tp minder’. Guri, Minnie, and I were brainstorming for small problems to solve and focused in on toilet paper notification. At the time, we though this would be a fantastically fun and silly project - a system that lets you know there’s no toilet paper in a bathroom stall.
During our presentation the question was asked, “Who’s suffered from this problem before - being stranded in a bathroom with no paper?”. 9 out of the 10 women raised their hands. It was then I realized, that this isn’t actually a small problem, but an indicator of something much bigger.
Think about it - using the numbers in this unscientific survey, roughly 90% of women in toilet paper using countries have endured the uncomfortable embarrassment of this problem. Thats 140M people in the US alone. Think thats not enough? Think of the time it takes to check toilet paper levels of every single stall of a movie theater or stadium bathroom.
Why hasn’t this problem been solved? My guess is that the ‘problem solvers’ of our world have been predominantly male for a long time. I’m not saying they didn’t want to solve this problem, but more that this slice of life isn’t lived by them. I’ve learned from recent conversations that when a dude needs to use toilet paper - he’s damn sure its there.
I’ve been thinking of our project as just scratching the surface of something much bigger. We live in a world dominated by products made through a masculine view of the world. What happens if we look through a feminine lens? I have a feeling we’ll find more interesting problems to solve than toilet paper dispensing.