Dear Culturalist: The Ups and Downs of Toilet Seats

November 17, 2017

Dear Culturalist,
The girls in my office keep getting mad at me for leaving the toilet seat up. What's the big deal? 

All you need to do to understand what a big deal it is when dudes leave the toilet seat up is to wait for the sun to go down. Then go into a bathroom, don’t turn the light on, lift the toilet seat up and sit on, or rather in, the toilet. The toilet will suck you into its strange, watery tomb, and you will never be quite the same. Or ask that question again. 

Sounds like a bad trip because it is! Most of my friends have had this happen to them, and most of the girls in your office have either heard a vivid firsthand account of falling into the toilet or experienced it themselves.

It isn’t uncommon for a man to leave the toilet seat up, even though his hand is already dirty from flushing the toilet at the very least. It also isn’t uncommon for a woman to stumble into the bathroom in the middle of the night and, in the dim light, not notice the toilet seat has been left up. Tragedies like this happen every day. 

A serious dose of edibles could play a role, and that woman, who maybe ate too many edibles, feels like the world has fallen apart underneath her and she is falling to the depths of hell. What stops her is a cold and wet toilet bowl, which is the opposite of fire and brimstone but a truly unpleasant place nonetheless.

Are you starting to see how this event can alter the course of someone’s life? I get the sense that some dudes think women are just being control freaks and should be capable of ensuring the toilet seat is down before attempting to sit on it. “Why can’t they just make sure the toilet seat is down before they use it?” you might ask. Well, remember that line about your hands already being dirty above. This is about cleanliness and courtesy. 

I think men feel like it should be their right to be able to leave the toilet seat up. Well, women fought for the right to vote and won, so you guys are going to have to fight for this right, too. For the record, right now you are losing.

Men use toilet seats sometimes, and women do all the time, so it seems to me that most of the time the toilet seat should be down. Also, ladies’ hands are relatively clean when we enter the bathroom, hopefully. If we have to touch the seat, well, our hands are not going to be that clean anymore, are they? That's especially true if we have to follow a man's visit to the toilet. 

Also, if this is all a matter of principle, let’s not forget it was a man who designed the toilet, and it is men who can’t aim through the seat. Women manage that just fine. Why should we need to get filth on our hands just because men can’t aim and control their stream of urine... or just pee on trees like dogs?

Lastly, even looking at the dirty underbelly of a toilet seat is off-putting. Men have to because they can’t aim in the hole one of them designed for this purpose. That doesn’t mean they should subject women to the sight of the gross under-the-seat view.

In summation, women don’t want to be reminded of one of their worst experiences, nor risk having it happen again. Or they simply don’t want to live through the horror their friends have told them about. If you still are not convinced about what the right thing to do is, just put the lid down, too. This tends to feel fair to all parties, and there is something to be said for peace and compromise. Right?

Photo credit: The German film Feuchtgebiete

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