Wednesday, October 14, 2009

reflections on the european toilet

Simone DeBeauvoir dedicates at least a chapter of her famous feminist piece Le Deuxieme Sexe to the theory that women derive their sense of inferiority to men due to the deeply rooted resentment at the male ability to urinate while standing. or maybe i'm making this up. at any rate, the quote "No teapot without a spout felt so forlorn" is a phrase that constantly reverberates in my mind.

i thought perhaps this age-old resentment might finally be resolved with the introduction of the female urinal - which exists at my school, as i've discovered on one of my trips to the school cafeteria bathrooms. no, i did not accidentally walk into the men's room. yes, i decided today to give it a try. no, it did not revolutionize my world. it was surprisingly unremarkable. what's the big deal? what is so different about female urinals that they don't require locks (stockings still go down, right?)? what's the point when you still need to use T.P.? what do the other Dutch girls think when they swing into the bathroom and find the female urinals actually in use ("oh, those nature-loving Canadians...")? and how come the Universiteit of Amsterdam decided to modernize their bathrooms when the lecture halls still don't have enough electrical outlets?

i have much to say about the ways European toilets perplex me, but i fear they are not proper things for a lady to publicly comment on. let me just say that in the conflict between conserving water in order to save the environment, and having enough water in your toilet bowl to feel properly comfortable and civilized, i would shoot a seal* and opt for the latter.

*with a camera! with a camera! put that megaphone down, Greenpeace...