Sunday, May 14, 2006

Women and toilet seats: the truth uncovered

What kind of man am I? A New Man, New Lad, Metrosexual, Ubersexual, Retrosexual? How does one cope with today's female fashion and still retain one's feminist credentials - if indeed it is possible for a man to claim to be a feminist at all? If like Philip Norman in today's Sunday Times you spend any time worrying about this sort of thing, I don't understand you at all but I feel very badly for you. I suspect the cure might be as simple as moving away from London.

Another thing I don't understand is how it is possible to go through life and not figure out what it is with women and toilet seats. Philip Norman doesn't get this either:
"Once, Britain's national sex stereotype joke was about women drivers. Now it's about men and toilet seats . . . I don't know what it is about a raised toilet seat that causes women such unfathomable horror. Female children are somehow programmed in the womb to go almost mad with despair and disgust when they see a toilet seat left in the upright position.

The more extreme branches of feminism used to regard every man as a potential rapist; now every man is regarded as a potential toilet seat offender. I would point out that raising a toilet seat is infinitely more mannerly and considerate than not doing so. It was the great Jonathan Miller who once said that the old train loo sign 'Gentlemen lift the seat' was not an instruction so much as a moral judgment."
Poor thing - so for his sake, and for any other men who inexplicably don't get this, harken unto my words and ye shall learn. It is still the done thing to lift the toilet seat for the simple reason that women don't like sitting on them after you've pissed all over it. This much, surely, should be obvious? But it is also the done thing to put it back down. It's this essential ingredient to modern toilet etiquette that provokes the howls of anguished incomprehension from the confused modern male and I don't understand why because the answer is blindingly obvious: women don't like touching toilet seats - period.* So you leave it down in order that they can avoid doing so. It's that simple.

How can men not know this? Are they unaware of just how many women either never use public conveniences or only use them with a protective layer of bogroll on the seat before they sit down? Not a few even use them without making any form of bodily contact with the crapper at all. (It's called 'straddling': this calls for balance and a certain level of physical fitness and should not be attempted without consulting your GP first.)

And haven't they noticed the way the clean bathroom imperative gains an almost religious intensity whenever you have guests coming round? You thought you were having people round for drinks or dinner or whatever, only to discover you are in fact receiving toilet-inspectors into your home who are intending to take swabs from your bathroom and then send them away for analysis. If even a microscopic trace of what the toilet is actually designed to receive is found, you will be forever shamed and in all probability you'd have to move house, get new friends etc. Hence the need to annihilate with fragrant yet deadly bleaching agents any germs that might have the temerity to even think about breeding in your toilet.

So leave the toilet-seat down. You could, I suppose, try pointing out that this is both irrational and unfair to us, since it means the touching of the toilet-seat thing becomes the sole prerogative of men but this is a pointless, self-defeating argument: by insisting that this toilet-seat aversion is irrational, you thereby undermine any reasons you might offer for not touching it.

You no longer have the excuse of not understanding why: it is quite simply the Duty of Man to leave the toilet-seat down under all circumstances and that is that. Complaining about it is utterly futile.

*I fully accept this could be construed as being stereotypical but it is meant as a generalisation: there may well be women that do like touching toilet-seats, perhaps even savour the experience, but I've never met any and don't know anyone who has.

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