A few weeks ago, actor Ashton Kutcher took to Facebook to complain about how public restrooms never have diaper-changing stations in the men’s rooms. What was meant as an offhand comment got the new dad’s post over 244 thousand likes and a flurry of feminist approval.
With all of the positive response, Kutcher decided to actively try to rectify the situation with a Change.org petition asking asking Target and Costco to provide universally accessible changing tables in all their stores.
“It seems this idea of diaper changing stations has struck a chord. It's a pet peeve of mine when people just complain … and don't do anything to improve their condition. So lets do something. In for equality?” Kutcher posted on Facebook.
The petition has over 80 thousand signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
Kutcher chose to focus the proposal on Target and Costco because they are companies that support families and, as leaders in the industry, are in the position to inspire change in other stores as well.
Target’s public relations department responded to the petition shortly after it went live, saying that changing tables are already a staple in all their restrooms and have been for 25 years, adding that “ in the event a changing table is unavailable, we encourage our guests to notify a team member and we will be happy to offer an alternative private location to meet their needs,” according to the Huffington Post.
The idea of installing changing stations in all restrooms is not a new one. A bill was proposed in California that would have required that facilities with changing tables in women's restrooms also provide them in men's restrooms. However, the governor vetoed the bill, saying that, while it would be a good business practice he was not willing to legislate it.
The lack of changing tables in men’s rooms may support the institutional assumption that women are always the primary child care provider. It may also undermine the role fathers play in their children's lives.
"I would like my daughter to experience a world where gender doesn't dictate one's responsibility or limit one's opportunity," Kutcher said in an interview with A Plus. "Having changing tables in men's rooms is just a tiny step in the process of rectifying legacy gender discrimination. Men who are aware of this bias want to participate equally in the child care process and our society should support that. It's time to get our hands dirty."