Edgy Mama: Guys, if you can’t put the lid down, then sit down

Forget bedroom politics; forget cleaning duty—one of the great debates of modern communal living is the correct positioning of the toilet seat (and by communal living, I simply mean people who share a bathroom).

I grew up with sisters, and while we only had one bathroom for the five of us until I was 7, after that I didn’t have to share a bathroom regularly with a man for almost 20 years. At which point, I experienced that bane of women everywhere — unexpected, intimate contact between one’s bare bum and a cold, sticky porcelain rim.

Women have told me they’ve actually fallen into the commode when squatting in the dark, but I’m not sure how this happens. My ass wouldn’t fit into a toilet bowl without a shoehorn.

As it was, lavatory etiquette training with male roommates didn’t work for me until I started shacking up with Enviro-spouse. Initially, he didn’t get it either (he grew up with brothers). But after many nights of being awoken by ear-piercing squeals when my heiney hit the rim (which reduced my desire for other intimacies), he got the memo.

Now I’m trying to train my son. Which isn’t going well. My midnight shrieks of horror don’t awaken him. And I can’t play the intimacy card.

I thought if the boy were trained from birth, seat positioning would be a non-issue. But he’s male. Testosterone must make lowering seats feel like a huge imposition.

While I’ve considered shock-collar training, I realize I’d have to actually catch the kid in the act of leaving the seat up (that’s a joke, people. I know shock-collar training is inhumane). When I find the seat in the up position, I explain to him that toilets have lids on them so you can close them — all the way. Then you don’t accidentally drop your toothbrush in them or freak out your already sleep-deprived mother.

I also remind my son that he can sit down. Most boys are potty-trained by sitting, but there’s this transformation that occurs when they turn 4 or 5. Sadly, they decide that it’s more fun to stand and swing that hose around. They’re also emulating the adult males in their lives.

My boy’s training has been further stymied by the fact that many public toilets, including the ones at school, don’t have lids. I don’t know if this is an expense issue or from fear that a first-grader will pee ON the lid, but it grosses me out. I once read that flushing can splatter tiny droplets of dirty toilet water up to three feet away.

Thus, I’ve become this schizoid person who opens the stall door, stretches backwards like a contortionist and mashes the flush lever while trying to sprint away from the public toilet before the splatter gets me. Let’s not even talk about the now ubiquitous automatic flushers, which are impossible to escape unless you’re willing to flee the stall with your pants around your knees.

But back to testosterone and toilets. I realize that some men think it’s unmanly for their brethren to sit down to pee. But I think it’s a damn good idea. Then this whole ridiculous debate would disappear.

Guys, if you can’t put the lid on it, sit down. And if you’re going to allow other macho types to emasculate you for sitting, you’ve got bigger issues to deal with.

Sitting also would take care of the urine splatter problem. As the spouse and mother of humans who pee through a flexible tube, I can vouch for their bad aim, particularly in the middle of the night. While I’m pushing for men to sit all the time, at least they can do it at night when they’re confused and disoriented and light only makes them squint, further decreasing their ability to point and shoot.

All we ask, guys, is that if you’re going to insist on standing, playing with your pipe and leaving a mess behind, just close the lid afterward. Us girls will do the same, so it’s equitable — then everybody has to lift something before letting loose. Otherwise, sit your ass down on that throne.

Anne Fitten “Edgy Mama” Glenn writes about a number of subjects, including parenting, at www.edgymama.com.


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45 thoughts on “Edgy Mama: Guys, if you can’t put the lid down, then sit down

  1. Piffy!

    [b]I once read that flushing can splatter tiny droplets of dirty toilet water up to three feet away. [/b]

    i too have been ruined by this knowledge. I hate those self-flushing toilets.

    Oh, and i sit when on the inside throne. Standing is for outside, or urinals.

  2. Betty Cloer Wallace

    “I once read that flushing can splatter tiny droplets of dirty toilet water up to three feet away.”

    Well, Edgy. Just start putting their toothbrushes within that three-feet splatter zone. That’ll fix ’em.

  3. brebro

    Real men are not afraid of urine. Bear Grylls drinks his own when thirsty and then wets his shirt and wears it as a turban. Okay, though, I’ll sit down if women stop holding up checkout lines with their checkbooks and learn to parallel park.

  4. Oh bre,
    I don’t even carry a checkbook. And I lived and commuted in Boston, so I can out parallel park 90 percent of the U.S. population.

    I think you have to sit down now.

  5. brebro

    Ha! With the Depends™ I am wearing, I am ALWAYS sitting down!

  6. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Brebro wrote: “Real men are not afraid of urine.”

    Well, Brebro, neither are real women if the occasion calls for it. But real bears are, at least some of them.

    I worked in the Alaskan Arctic for ten years, and here’s what the Eskimo (Inuit) women always advised us outsiders when out on the tundra picking salmon berries and greens, which was a woman thing.

    “If a grizzly appears, which is likely, just slowly lift your atigluk and urinate a few drops, and then lift high the skirt of your atigluk to appear as large as possible. Then slowly walk backward, urinate a few more drops, walk slowly, urinate, continue to hold up skirt…… all the way back to the village.” The berries and urine would be of more interest to the vegetarian bear, they said, than would you.

    I never had to try it, but the Eskimo women swear it has saved more than a few lives. In retrospect, I almost wish I had had the opportunity to try it… now that I am safe at home.

    As for hungry meat-eating polar bears, though, the Eskimo women said nothing would stop them but bullets, or a fast snowmachine (snowmobile). Humans are just protein to polar bears, they said, although not as nutritious as other mammals.

    As for toilet seats, I lived many years up there without them, or even any plumbing at all. In the whole scheme of things, such comforts are nice but not really necessary. The important thing is how you work it all out with your men. Sanitation is relative, as is modesty and most other things.

  7. Ken Hanke

    As for toilet seats, I lived many years up there without them, or even any plumbing at all. In the whole scheme of things, such comforts are nice but not really necessary.

    Well, that’s subjective. I go nowhere that doesn’t offer plumbing and real beds, but then my idea of roughing it is, “Oh, my God, it’s a Motel Six.”

  8. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Ken Hanke: “…..my idea of roughing it is, ‘Oh, my God, it’s a Motel Six.’”

    A Motel Six might be your better choice. The wife of a friend of mine works in Las Vegas in a 5-star hotel. She says the housekeepers are paid $3.00 for each bedbug they turn in, which is quite profitable for them. She says ALL the major hotels there have them.

  9. If the boys find it hard to aim, I suggest they get down on their knees and do their business. That way the challenge of aiming is removed from the task.

  10. Ken Hanke

    A Motel Six might be your better choice. The wife of a friend of mine works in Las Vegas in a 5-star hotel. She says the housekeepers are paid $3.00 for each bedbug they turn in, which is quite profitable for them. She says ALL the major hotels there have them.

    Happily, I’m a little too plebian to have to deal with 5 star hotels.

  11. Perfect-Aim Pete

    I once had a girlfriend who was willing to put the seat up when she was done. In return, I would hunt the polar bears and pay for the motel 6’s. It’s best when chivalry can go both ways.

  12. jimmytwotimes

    As a husband who lowers the seat regularly (at least now I do), I sometimes wonder where the gratitude is for having raised the seat in the first place. Trust me, it could be worse.

  13. Pee Pee McGee

    “All we ask, guys, is that if you’re going to insist on standing, playing with your pipe and leaving a mess behind, just close the lid afterward. Us girls will do the same, so it’s equitable — then everybody has to lift something before letting loose. Otherwise, sit your ass down on that throne.”

    Insist on standing? Playing with your “pipe”? Leaving a mess behind? Standing up to pee is not only convenient, it’s natural. I don’t think men stand up to pee to play with their “pipes” or to try and make your life harder. Don’t traumatize your kid by making him feel guilty about what his body is designed to do.

    Insisting that men have to put the seat down is basically arguing that if women have to suffer something then men should have to as well. I guess two wrongs make a right in your book.

    Why don’t you learn to stand up to pee?

  14. jimmytwotimes

    Speak for yourself Pee Pee. Parenting is all about traumatizing children.

  15. brebro

    All I know is: you have to rub their nose in it if they do it on the carpet.

  16. who

    I’m glad this subject came up. I’ve been waiting for years to expound on this matter. Being a military kid in the 70’s, with a father often away, and two older sisters and a mom ruling the roost, I definately got my fair share on the toilet seat issue. It was also during this time that the “women’s lib” ideal was inspiring my siblings and mother. Through the years my reasoning faculties matured and I once argued that if you want equality, then men put the seat up and women put the seat down – fair and equal. It didn’t fly. Now, if I am in a unisex or private bathroom, I put the seat up and down, I’ve been trained well. But I cuss if I’m in a men’s bathroom and other guys still put the seat down. It’s a breach of something, and I darkly think: those rules don’t apply here!

  17. skatam1

    I have to laugh every time I see that some people (mostly women) still make an issue of this. I can promise you every time I have raced into the house with my buttocks clinched, and bolted for the bathhroom, I check that the seat is down before I “sit my ass down on that throne” I’m with jimmytwotimes. It could be much worse. Like having to clean all of the “pee by others” off of the seat. But I’m sure if all of us guys just stopped lifting the seat and started peeing on it instead, Edgy Mama would probably complain about that too. I am 100% for equal rights, and equal responsibility too. If I can lift it, you can put it down.

  18. Guys, guys, you’re not reading closely. My argument is that everyone–regardless of gender–should put the lid on the toilet seat down. Then it’s equitable, as everyone has to lift something before peeing.

  19. Piffy!

    hey, Em. I’ve been with you on this since the get go. Dont go blaming all the guys, now. toilet lids need to be down. i often have to remind my wife of this.

  20. 2 pee or not 2 pee

    Where is the self responsibility? If you’re not attentive enough to look where you’re about to sit, then you deserve what you get. I agree with the philosophy that one should be thankful the sit is clean, not the position in which it rests.

  21. Dread P. Roberts

    I think that anyone who is viewing this issue as a gender issue is completely missing the point. Maybe it’s just the way I was raised, but putting the ‘lid’ down on the toilet seat should be viewed as nothing more, or less, than a sanitation issue. For example, if (for some inexplicable reason) one were to fill a jar with filthy water/liquid, they wouldn’t just leave that jar sitting around on the counter, without sealing it with a lid, would they? If you had a jar of urine in your hands right now, would you think it emasculating to want a lid on it? Would ya, punk?

    Also, maybe it’s just because I have mad skills, but I don’t understand what’s so hard about aiming into that giant hole whilst standing up? I’ve been as drunk as a skunk, and more disoriented than a astronaut on an acid trip, and I still don’t have any trouble making it into the porcelain throne. If a man is that aiming impaired, then their problems exceed simply peeing. The bottom line is: I don’t care how you go, so long as you’re sanitary in your endeavors.

  22. brebro

    The thing about external urethras is, sometimes blockages can occur that are unknown at the time of fluid release and said blockages become apparent only after one or more streams emanate from the tube in sideways directions and by that time it is too late to compensate the trajectory towards the designated receptacle. Perhaps that situation is another argument in favor of the sitting position, but be aware that bad aim is not always the culprit in these matters.

  23. While we’re on the subject of pee on the toilet seat. How rude is women stand above the seat and pee is left on the seat? While I try to make a point of checking I sometimes forget. There is NOTHING more annoying that sitting on someone’s pee. There is a special place in hell for women who do this.

    I’ve confronted the offenders when I’ve caught them leaving a stall with their mess behind. They don’t like being confronted, but they deserve a stern dressing down…and I never miss an opportunity to oblige them.

  24. Dread P. Roberts

    brebro, you’re of course completely correct in your point. As a fellow member of the grand male species, I’m fully aware of this. I wasn’t really being entirely serious in my tongue-in-cheek insult to the aiming impaired. But your scientific breakdown cracked me up, and for that I thank you.

    You know, this whole sitting-on-a-puddle-of-pee thing sounds like a real bummer. It’s times like these that I can take joy in my manhood (no offense, ladies), and my manly ability to stand tall, and take aim (with my hands on my hips, in a Peter Pan style pose, of course). I shall not yield to the toilet conformists. Bathroom Nazis!

  25. Well somehow words got edited out……What I meant to say was “How rude are the women who stand above the seat and pee…….”

  26. The ironic thing is that the only reason they are hovering over it in the first place is because they are afraid to sit down on what might be on that seat!

  27. Yeah, because they KNOW from experience, some people pee on the #####ing seat.

    Many people have conditions or disabilities where they cannot hover. So they have to sit. Those rude hovering types need to learn to aim better, or clean up their waste afterwords.

  28. Piffy!

    the real issue is people shouldnt be pooping and peeing in the water supply at all.

    pee in your garden. its good for the plants. and poop in a bucket of sawdust and compost it into nutrient rich soil!

  29. Piffy!

    if by ‘civilized’ you mean, ‘potentially ruining the water table for generations to come’.

  30. Well, we HAVE been recycling the same water for the past few billion years. Somehow the water cleaner upper dudes have figured out how to filter out the excrements, so far.

  31. twinkie223

    Join us for next week’s equally intellectually stimulating debate on whether the toilet paper should roll overhand or underhand.

  32. who

    Why wait til next week, twink. I’m so relieved that this was brought up. Another subject that I’ve been waiting for years to vent about. Back in 1969, when I was 5 years old,…

  33. jimmytwotimes

    Underhand toilet paper sends me into a rage like you’ve never seen.

  34. I.P. Freeley

    with the worlds water in such short supply i can’t believe you hippies are even using a water based toliet system. you should be recycling your urine…
    shame on you. i am going to tell the green police.

  35. boatrocker

    I still like the idea of putting both seats down on a toilet after you use it in order to inconvienence both men and women. Regardless of your sex, both genders have to at least do something in order to be able to use the toilet.

    Betty’s comments on urine and bears are right on the money too. A few years ago when a mother bear and two cubs repeatedly raided my garbage can, I solved the problem by drinking a six pack of cheap beer and peeing in a circle around the trash can (at night).

  36. John

    Dear Edgy Mama
    I just finished reading your column about what males “should” do with the toilet seat. I was very glad to see your final conclusion, because it’s the only thing you had to say that didn’t make me want to scream. I was actually relieved to see it, because the position of every woman in the western world, except you, is that the only “correct” position for the toilet seat and lid is: seat down, lid up. Why? They’re not even ashamed to tell you, “Because that’s the way I need it! Me,me,me!!! Men should lift it up before, and put it back down after. I shouldn’t have to touch it all!!!” Your conclusion that the only way to be equitable is for everyone to leave the lid down tells me that you’re not selfish, you just haven’t thought things through. Lucky for you, I’m here to enlighten you.

    First off, a male can’t fully empty his bladder while sitting. So if you love the idea of having to take your male kiddos to the doctor for bladder infections, teach them to pee sitting down. But let me tell you an even more important reason NOT to teach them that. It’s called personal responsibility. There is no reason why a man has to leave a toilet in a mess. (Now, in case you don’t know, sometimes, no matter how hard he tries, a man IS going to miss. You wouldn’t believe how shocking it is to see 2 streams coming out of the end of that thing, with both of them going in different directions! Trust me when I tell you that one of those streams is going to miss!!!) So, having missed, for whatever reason, there is only one reasonable thing to do, and that is CLEAN IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! EM, don’t teach your kids, “I know you won’t clean it up, so do this instead.” Teach them to CLEAN IT UP! When my wife’s son was 10-or-12ish, he had a friend over to the house, and the kid peed all over the toilet seat. When Jill saw that, she took the kid into the bathroom, handed him cleaning supplies, and told him, “Clean it up!” A couple years ago, we had a painter in our house for 2 weeks. Grown man, about 30 years old. On his last day, he left for the last time, never to be seen again, check in hand. The last thing he did before leaving was to use the bathroom. After he was gone, I went in there, and there was more pee on the seat that I had peed in the last 30 days! It looked like he thought he was in a damn gas station out on the highway in the middle of nowhere! I wanted to fix him so that he HAD to sit down to pee! His mama obviously didn’t bring him up well. Teach your kids to clean up after themselves, EM. The world will thank you.

    And now, one last thought regarding whether a man “should” leave the seat up or down when he leaves a public unisex bathroom. As I’ve said, every woman in the world (except you) would scream, “Put the seat down when you finish! That’s how I need it to be!” But consider what happens if the next person in the restroom after me is that asshole of a painter (or his brother too, probably). If I’ve left the seat up, he pees everywhere except the seat, then the next woman who comes in can just put the (clean) seat down and take care of business. (She might want to wrap her hand in a whole roll of paper towels before touching it –ook!– but it least it’s not peed all over.) But if I put it down for Ms I’mSoImportantICan’tDoItForMyself, he pees all over it, and the next woman who comes in (It could be you.) is screwed.

    Now that you’ve been enlightened as to the truth about toilets, their seats, male bladders, and the responsible use thereof, I leave to you the responsibility of spreading this great truth to the masses.
    You’re welcome.

  37. Gordon Bennet

    Back in the day when I had inadvertently taken Her Majesty’s Shilling, we had it drummed into us that under no circumstances should we ever, ever, ever leave any toilet seat up! NEVER NEVER!
    Foolishly I asked “Why’s it a problem, can’t they see the bloody thing is up, and we do it to show we haven’t pissed on it!”
    “Thank you for asking, it leads nicely into the human contact psychology classes you’ll be taking.”
    “Okay, were are all domesticated animals who have yet to get certain tendencies bred out of us.” She continued; “All animals in the wild urinate and defecate at the boundaries of what they consider their territory. This includes all primates. (You lot) All males when either urinating or defecating check on what they have done, and are sometimes proud of a particularly large piece of excrement in the bowl, or claim to have urinated more than a pint in one go! However, females never marked their territory unless they felt the urgent need to get pregnant. Therefore in their own homes, they rarely look into a toilet bowl to see if it has the seat up or down. They know if ‘you’ have been in there from the smell you leave behind.
    So they don’t check if the seat is up or down, as they back onto it. If it is up, there is the panic of what was spilled on the rim of the bowl by you. Don’t stupidly make comments like the one you made, as it is illogical to any and every woman who has passed puberty.”
    She actually was excellent at teaching us most things about women, and woofters.

  38. pff

    I don’t know, Gordon. Not looking where you are about to sit doesn’t seem like a very sensible thing to do. If I were you, I would have put a cactus there to see if she’d ‘back onto it’.

    Your entire thesis smacks of this notion that one sex is ‘superior’.

    Also, and more importantly, peeing in the drinking water is silly. Urine can have a lot of nitrogen in it, and would be great on your garden or compost, diluted perhaps 4-1 water to pee.

    The water supply should be for drinking, not for waste disposal.

  39. keb1306

    I honestly believe that the lid argument has always been a non sequitur. I had no idea nor had I ever heard of this ridiculous battle between the sexes before I was married. When I had, it went on my list as one of the stupidest arguments I ever heard.

    After all both sexes are involved equally. The female might fall in the bowl if the seat rest is not down and the man might piss all over the seat rest if it is down. Something to think about ladies who enforce the seat down policy. Your back ends might get moist.

    Being a normal male I believe all of us sleepily and absently reach down without thinking and check the position of the lid before doing our business. In this argument ladies admit they never check, they just sit. (No puns please.) Is this true?

    In our home my wife and I both close the lid before we flush because there is a spray of micro particles I would not have going all over our toothbrushes and the like. I did this before it became popular because my mother is a microbiologist, she would know and so I have always closed the lid for this reason.

    Guys and women: close the seat and the lid and then flush so no filth flies all over the place. There problem solved.

  40. YourComplaintIsWrongheaded

    Your complaint is backward. Men do all the difficult work of lifting the lid (which fights gravity) in order to use the toilet; women need only lower the lid (assisted by gravity) to use the toilet. As a feminist who believes in equality, I say that everyone who wants to use a toilet, regardless of gender, should put it into their preferred configuration. That will be slightly harder for men (again, working against gravity) than for women, but that cannot be avoided. The bottom line is that women who *share* a bathroom with men must *share* the responsibility of personal use of the toilet. That’s the feminist way: equality. You wouldn’t want to admit to the man in your life that you are unequal, would you? a dainty little girl incapable of handling the huge responsibility of using a toilet? I guess you could do that, if you really can’t handle the responsibility, but make sure your man knows that about you. If you can’t handle that, he might wonder what else you can’t handle.

  41. Heather M

    On a completely separate topic:

    A “schizoid” is a person who completely lacks interest in social interactions. They’re a solitary sort with an air of coldness and detachment. Calling yourself schizoid for your toilet-flushing mannerisms just doesn’t make sense ;].

    Just informing the public :]

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