While The Donald's been dominating headlines this week for acting like a small child, Obama’s just passed a new BABIES Act that's a pretty big deal for American grown ups - dads especially.
On October 7th, Obama signed into law an Act mandating that all bathrooms in US public buildings provide baby changing facilities – including the men’s.
The ‘Bathrooms Accessible in Every Situation’ Act, also known as the BABIES Act, is the perfect parting gift from a doting presidential dad who has just 3 months remaining as the man of the (White)House. And while it no doubt represents but a small feat for Obama in the greater scheme of his presidential achievements, it is an absolute giant leap for dad kind.
For American dads, the BABIES Act means no more sneaky nappy changes in dark corners while trying to do a nappy/wipe/cream/talc balancing act a Russian State Circus performer would be proud of.
No more placing a change mat on a slightly sloping toilet seat. Or cubicle floor.
No more placing baby on the back of the sedan boot and changing from there. (Tip from experience, make sure everything’s out of the boot before you get cracking.)
The issue gained traction in March last year when Ashton Kutcher voiced his frustration at being unable to find changing facilities to change his daughter.
Kutcher started a petition on Change.org calling on big American businesses to #bethechange for American men’s rooms. He quickly garnered over 100,000 signatures.
18 months later, this change has been signed into law. And while the Act only covers government owned buildings, it brings America one step closer to potty parity for parents.
America. Not Australia.
Now call me an old feminist if you like, but it’s bloody ridiculous that baby changing facilities aren’t in each and every bathroom in Australia – facilities that both parents, regardless of gender, can access.
It’s an inequality issue that compounds outdated stereotypes that nappy changing, (and caring for kids in general), is a woman’s job.
And while I reckon it isn’t going to be high up on the list of vote winners for any political party, it’s something that, unless we start talking about it, just won’t change.
A lot of newer shopping centres and public buildings in Australia ARE including baby changing rooms in men’s bathrooms, and that’s a great sign for the future.
But there’s still a hell of a lot of older businesses and public buildings that still do not have these facilities. And as an Aussie dad of one toddler with another on the way – I feel that’s simply not acceptable.
It’s one of those issues that, 20 years from now, we’ll look back on as being ridiculous. But until Australia follows the America’s lead, we’re going to be stuck seeking out that quieter shopping centre corner, or performing some (admittedly pretty skilful) balancing act.