A friend of mine recently took the liberty of tucking his penis between his legs and urinating on my garage floor. He was a tad worse for wear, but I realised something quite profound: Real men wee sitting down (strictly speaking, he squatted, but I think the point remains). I know a fair few males would consider the sit-down-wee as flying in the face of all that is masculine. It’s understandable that they think this: Women tend to sit down to piss, so if a man sits down to have a wee then they must actually be a woman. Although this kind of argument is well thought out and rigorous, after careful consideration I’ve realised it’s actually misguided.
When my friend got up to perform the deed, some other friends looked on in horror before asking him stop. Far from it for them to tell him to wee standing up and into a toilet though. Oh no, my friend wasn’t going to be bound by some prudish throw back from the Victorian era. Whether they liked it or not, he was going to wee on the floor with his willy tucked through his legs (unusually purple and bulbous as a result of being sandwiched between his unfathomably hairy thighs). And he made this quite clear by shuffling over to them (his trousers were around his ankles at this point) and explaining that he would hit them if they dare challenge his right to urinate on my lovely, freshly mopped floor – at lease this is how they deciphered his vague and intermittent grunts. The first thing to note then, is that in relieving himself, my friend actually exhibited many of the features we would normally associate with a red-blooded man right here in the United Kingdom. You know, long held virtues like extreme stubbornness and unwarranted threats of violence. But as great as drunken aggression is, this is not a vindication of the British conception of manliness. My friend is part Turkish and I have it on slightly dubious authority that many Turkish men wee sitting down. Furthermore, a Taiwanese minister publicly endorsed this particular toiletry practice last year and the prophet Muhammed certainly indulged in the sit down wee from time to time, if not exclusively. It thus follows, that cultural relativism (descriptively speaking) is true. By this I mean that the idea of ‘man’ varies greatly around the world. That’s not to say that all of these ideas are equally desirable (or even that any of them are desirable), but just that it would be a gross misconception to think there is a universally agreed upon definition of ‘man’ which includes ‘he who urinates whilst standing up’. As such, my friend wasn’t just being a drunk idiot – he was actually expressing himself within the cultural and social norms he perceives to embody all that it is to be a man. By, um…. pissing on my floor.
What does this all mean though? Well, quite simply, ‘man’ is many things depending on who you ask: It’s sitting down to wee as well as standing up; It’s biting your lip and crying over Disney’s heart wrenching film ‘Up’ as well as taking an interest in certain, nipple based aspects of Piranha 3DD’s mise-en-scene; It’s something determined at birth as well as something we can choose to be if and when we want. You might disagree with someone’s definition of manhood, but you can’t deny that they think it to be true. This might seem trivial, but if you really take this observation seriously then it becomes clear that whatever definition of ‘man’ you prefer, it is far from uncontroversial. Moreover, your definition is not synonymous with ‘normal’. And the same goes for any concept of ‘woman’ you can think of too. There is no normal when it comes to gender. Once this realisation has been made, men can start doing shameful things like ordering a chicken korma or drinking a white wine spritzer. Women can do horrendous things like not removing every follicle of hair below their eyebrows in order to look like a pre-adolescent girl (apparently it’s the only way to look sexy). And society can do truly shocking things like acknowledging the existence of transphobia (if you think that it already does, try explaining why spell check doesn’t even recognise the word) or maybe even actually taking steps to prevent it.
As such, I think my Turkish friend’s choice to piss in the way that he did was far from a drunken mistake. It was a heroic act of defiance in the face of the patriarchy. It was a piece of performance art ridiculing the old and out-dated idea that men only wee when upright. It was powerful rhetoric in which he shouted loud and clear, ‘I will not be defined by the manner in which I am expected to urinate! I am a man, and real men wee sitting down.’. We should be proud of the sit down wee. I know I am. It’s like a little treat every now and then, just to mix things up a bit. And I shouldn’t be ashamed to say that. This is such an important lesson I think I might pass it down to further generations in the form of a fable: ‘The Turk Who Chose to Tuck’. And the moral of the story? Sitting down is one step to making a stand.
N.B This entry has been reposted from my old blog.