Monday, January 02, 2006

Toilet Seat Analysis 

My mother and grandmother raised me to lower the toilet seat -- that it's a man's responsibility. I must confess that I haven't always lived up to this lofty ideal, but I have made at least the occasional token effort and that's got to count for something. Recently, however, I've started to question this bedrock assumption of male/female scatalogical coexistence. In this age of neo-post-feminism, grrrl-power and men who wear earrings in their noses, why is lowering the toilet seat still considered such an exclusively macho responsibility?

Consider this. Every time a woman takes a seat -- that seat -- she has a choice to make. She can place herself at the mercy of men, trusting that guys -- who won't even wash their hands on the way out if they don't think anyone is watching and the towel is already plausibly damp -- that these same guys will assiduously and consistently, without fail, lower the seat when they are done. Or she could just check it herself.

Put it another way. Whom should a woman trust more to care for the purity of her seat-contacting surfaces, the various men who now and then happen to wander within parabolic range of her facilities, or herself?

I'm shocked that we are teaching our young girls to grow up and trust men like me with this most important task. Shocked. I know I wouldn't trust me -- that despite the fact that I know for a fact I'm a well-trained, well-meaning guy. At best, I might trust but verify, and even then only with regard to non-public porcelain.

Perhaps women feel that it is unfair that they should be the ones to always carry the burden, having to check the toilet seat before each and every sitting. While I feel for them (empathizing with feelings is a good thing, guys), I don't agree with their "logic," if we can call it that (ridiculing or dismissing logic you disagree with is a bad thing, which is why I started by innoculating myself with gratuitous empathy).

First off, while women forget this little-known fact, men also carry the same seat-checking burden roughly half the time they use the facilities -- the exact fraction depends on the precise ratios of beer to pretzel consumption, a detail that's outside the scope of this article. But beyond that, let's just allow for the moment that women shouldn't have to carry the burden of checking the toilet seat before they sit down. Since they obviously don't have to check the seat after they're done either, women, in essence, have absolutely zero burden.

And what does this do to men? In order to free woman of their pre-use check, men are now 100% responsible for checking after use. But even more so, they are now also responsible for checking every time before use as well. After all, if a man is in a vertical use case scenario, and he does not check the seat, who's going to discover the result of that little fiasco? You guessed it.

So while women check 0% of the time, men must check 200% of the time. That is so not fair, but you'll notice how we men have been to noble all these years to whine about it, instead just sort of forgetting most if not all of those checks and letting women figure out the rest. Apparently the implications haven't sunk in yet, so let me, for perhaps the first time in the long running jihad between the sexes, make our final offer completely explicit:

Women, just check the seat every time before you sit down, and we'll also check before we do anything you might regret as well. That way, this burden will be leveled out. What could be more egalitarian than that?

So guys, strike a blow for equality. Leave the seat up. Your wife will thank you -- after you explain it to her. Eventually. I'm pretty sure. At least I think that's what the math says.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: