Restroom Etiquette

ArgentieriPsicologia, RicercaLeave a Comment

Last month I wrote a post on how to urinate in the correct way. And also a couple of curious and interesting aspects of the topic.

As promised, this month we’re going to look at the pee” subject from another point of view. That is public urinals, those walls, the only walls in the world where to pee legally.
Obviously we are talking about the male universe, but this post is also interesting for women and at the end you’ll know why.
I never thought there was a real urinal etiquette, such as “do NOT look in the eye the other guests” of the bathroom”, to avoid giving the impression that you want to approach them sexually. I find hilarious the bashful behavior of males in the bathrooms, as if they were KGB spies on a mission.This first, most important rule is the one that also regulates the urinal to choose.


Scenarios no. 1 & 2

Scenario no. 1: think of what happens when we get into a bathroom and all urinals are empty. The label would tell us to occupy one of the two external urinals, so to give to those who come after us the freedom to pee as far as possible from us.
Scenario no. 2: we come in and find a person already engaged in its physiological need: where we’re going to stand? According to the urinal etiquette, at the farest distance from the person who is already there. Because, remember, each contact (visual or, worse, tactile) is strictly prohibited.

Scenario no .3

Scenario no. 3: If we find both extremes already occupied, we’re going to pee at the center.

Scenario no. 4

Scenario no. 4

Scenario no. 4: If, unfortunately, there are the three places already with the host, it seems that the best decision is to come back later, or use the bathroom door.

Well, this choice seems so silly I mean, why should we attribut to such a common physiological necessity so much importance? We make a special thing of it, and only because it is in a public context.
The influence of others is so strong that, as we said in our article of January, many people would not be able to urinate in public. The thing is so widespread to be defined common. According to a very famous research, if no one is present in the restroom, it take averagely 4.8 seconds to start urinating. But if a stranger is around, this average time increases to 6.2 seconds. Finally, if the stranger is at the urinal next to ours, your bladder may wait up to an average 8.4 seconds to relax and let go.
Who uses the urinal pretends to ignore the other. Exactly, pretends, aware that the other is just another peeing actor playing the part of the lone wolf.

Society teaches us as children to control stimuli and needs of our body and to have a relationship of disgust toward our physiological fluids and smells of our body. A necessity for civilized society, according to Nick Haslam, author of Psychology in the Bathroom. Unfortunately a taboo has been created around this topic, a taboo that reinforces the aura of unacceptability around what we do in the toilet. We cannot speak of it and, if in the situation, we have to attend to everything as quickly as possible, feeling almost ashamed.

Ostia_antica_-_Vespasiano_-_foto_Stefano_BologniniVery different from our habits in the past: in ancient Rome even a public toilet was social meeting place. In Ostia there are still remnants of these bathrooms, completely public also for more consistent needs than pee.
As you can see in this photo, they used to sit next to each other, engaged in conversation. That drain in front of the seats had running water in which you could soak a piece of cloth wrapped on top of a stick, and use it as toilet paper. Ok, none of this sounds hygienic, I agree with you.
This modesty in the toilet dates back to the XIX century. When in fact the hygienic (and religious) rules became more rigid.

It is really interesting to see how we behave when we are obliged to see us for what we are: animals. Layers and layers of social, religious and educational conditioning can make us think that we are something different. Until when our human culture has to deal with these basic needs, common among most of the animals.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAFor women, as I said at the beginning, there is a final treat, or better two. It is not easy to find out why women go to the bathroom in groups and there they stay for endless minutes. It is not as easy as for a guy, neither that quick, we must admit it.
Perhaps things would be different if women could use these inventions. The first is the female urinal, with comfortable design for squatting slightly. Of course, we need to understand if any woman would pee this way: unlike guys urinals, here they would not look the wall but would face outward, not exactly the best way to create privacy...
Then you could opt for a silicone funnel that allows women to urinate standing. An acquaintance of mine used it and it seems to be convenient and hygienic, especially when the alternative is a not exactly shining public toilet.

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