I think every man who ever had a mother or a girlfriend has been scolded more times than he cares to remember for leaving the toilet seat up.  The worst part is the language that accompanies this gender cliché: women speak of training men to put the seat down when he’s finished as one would train a dog to yelp at the door when he’s finished booby-trapping the lawn.  I object to the whole thing on oh so many levels.

If you don’t appreciate blunt comments about bodily functions, I suggest you leave now.

Firstly, you must understand why men don’t put the seat up.  Most of us pee standing.  Putting the seat up keeps piss and toilet water from splashing on the seat.  Most of us probably use the toilet three times in the standing position for every one we use it seated.  Thus it makes sense that the seat remain in the ready position.  The seat is like the windshield wipers on your car.  You engage them only when it rains.  Thus if you are a guest in a mans house or, god forbid, in the home of several men, it makes perfect sense for the seat to remain up at all times and for the occasional seated users to drop the seat as needed.

Where men and women live together it may not be as black and white.  Men have to consider the fact that women always sit down, and they pee more often.  That means if an equal number of men and women share a toilet, the toilet is most often used seated.  Does this mean the seat should be left down?  Perhaps.  Here’s the problem though.  The most common justification for the women’s position is that she doesn’t want to fall in.  Putting the seat down means that she’ll never fall into the toilet.  But if we insist on putting the seat down for women who might take a dip, we’re punishing the rather banal offense of being forgetful and rewarding the utterly stupid act of sitting on something without first looking at it!  This, to me, is the very face of paternalistic and degrading behavior towards women.  I think that catering to stupidity is rather more disrespectful than forgetfulness.  I submit that the fight to leave the seat up is a feminist’s prerogative.

The truth is, I don’t think that many women fall into toilets that often.  I think a lot of women don’t like to touch the toilet with their hands because they think it’s icky.  For them, the propagation of this stupid discussion serves their purpose.  For the rest it’s just though polite without any consideration at all.  Luckily, the wonderful world of science has decided the matter once and for all and given us a way to weed out the germophobes.

” If you flush with the lid up, a polluted plume of bacteria and water vapour erupts out of the flushing toilet bowl. The polluted water particles float for a few hours around your bathroom before they all land. Some of them will land on your tooth brush.”

That’s from an article about the work of Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist.  So that settles it: the seat and the lid should alway be put down before flushing the toilet.  This is a wonderfully equitable solution as it requires the same commitment from all people.  Whenever any person is done using the toilet they have to close it.  Girls don’t have to fall in anymore and guys don’t have to remember to put the lid up before peeing.  It also puts the people who have taken advantage of the system to avoid touching the seat in an awkward position.  In my own experience, women have a harder time adjusting to this new system because they have never had to think about what to do to the toilet when finished except flushing.  After years of being reminded I’m a bad person, I find this new dynamic rather refreshing.

But the point is: the discussion is over and there’s no need to point to anyone’s sex to lay blame.  You all need to close the lid.  If you don’t you’ll get poo on your toothbrush.  Is that clear and blunt enough for you?

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