By Ellen Snortland
Pasadena Weekly Columnist

Can we move on, please? Over the years, I’ve written thousands of words about reproductive rights in this barely modern country of ours. Ireland and Mexico are now more progressive than we are when it comes to abortion.

This week, I’m not devoting another column to the most basic human right of all: bodily autonomy. However, before I get into the meat of my main topic, last week I promised specifics about upcoming protests centered on preserving Roe v. Wade. They are happening on Saturday, Oct. 2, two days before the Supreme Court goes back into session.

If you are in the San Gabriel Valley, RSVP at
pasadenacaravan; everywhere else, go to and find the one closest to you. Let’s get out there and create a colossal turnout that blows the media away and breaks the internet. A visceral reminder that most Americans believe a woman’s right to determine what happens with her own body is fundamental.

And now for something completely different. Here’s a radical proposal: Women should set the design standards for industries that ignore them and instead base everything on men’s needs.

To wit: I was in a dark, multilevel parking lot in DTLA that had an automated parking machine for entry and exit. I rolled down the window, and lo and behold, I couldn’t reach the slot to push in my parking ticket or my payment. I backed up my Prius, angled back in as close as possible and still couldn’t reach the slot.

The cars behind me started honking because they were as impatient to leave as I was. The car horns echoed off the structure’s cement surfaces, jangling me further. Let’s face it: I’m not the coolest ice cube in the tray, even under calm circumstances. I finally had to get out of my car so I could reach the slot. Voilá! My victory was short-lived: By the time I got back in my car and re-buckled up, the exit arm had gone up and back down again. I now couldn’t get out, even though I had paid.

Because taller people tend to have longer arms (i.e., males), the designers of this automated parking machine obviously didn’t take people with shorter arms (i.e., females) into account. If they’d used a shorter-armed woman as their design standard… you see the common sense of it, right? Whoever designed this gender-unconscious machine did not take any of this into account.

Oh, here’s another Oldie But Baddy. The only car I owned that ever had enough room for my purse was my beloved Royal Blue 1959 El Camino. It had a column shift and bench seats, so no extraneous automobile real estate was taking up valuable floor space.

Over several decades, car designers have chipped away at this aspect of interior auto design, starting with ditching bench seats for bucket seats. The people who designed my Prius — and every other car I’ve driven since the early ’70s — apparently didn’t consider female drivers, because there is no room for my purse except to crowd the floor of the passenger seat with whatever I am carrying. And if you’re thinking, “Why doesn’t she simply put it in the back seat?” I say, “Why don’t you zip it! Like I never thought of that?” Why don’t car designers have women do “real-world” testing of their vehicles, including whatever they need to access quickly during whatever phase of life they’re in? Just because most men don’t carry purses doesn’t mean auto designers can blithely ignore the needs of one-half of the planet. So. Annoying.

And here’s one that truly ticks me off. When I’m in the bathroom at places like an airport or a Costco, they now have toilets featuring water-efficient automatic flush systems. You know, the ones that use “movement sensors.” Water efficient, my wet butt! As soon as I move, it flushes. Forget that I’m not ready. Flush mechanism designers need to go into a stall with women’s clothing on — or, better yet, hire real live women — and see how much longer it takes for a woman to manage her clothing, whether it’s a pair of trousers, a dress or whatever. Do a contest between a man simply unzipping and a woman in post-elimination mode and time it. These things are designed with Mr. Average Guy Everyman in mind, not a busy mom juggling a toddler, her purse and her clothes. Said mommy often ends up causing four auto-flushes with her circus act.

I have a growing collection of these design gaffes. Shocking, I know. Email me if you have any that you’d like to share if I put together an anthology of design flaws that favor men.

Here’s one more plug for the march on Saturday, Oct. 2, which is happening all over the Unites States. Please attend! And bring the boys: husbands, brothers, sons, nephews. We need more men to break their silence and stand in solidarity with us. Hey guys — I double-dog dare you! You are conspicuous in your absence.

Ellen Snortland has written “Consider This…” for a heckuva long time, and she also coaches first-time book authors! Contact her at