Turned-On-Women and leaving the seat up

by OneTaste Living Library  Jan 23, 2012

I spent the summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college living in a small apartment in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My sister had procured the apartment for me as she lived in the larger one upstairs and I needed something interesting to do with my summer break.

The summer offered to me an opportunity to start living like an adult with my own kitchen, schedule, and opportunity to grow. I worked at a local café, learned to cook for myself, took macroeconomics at U of M, and enjoyed playing lacrosse at the local field. It was a wonderful experience. However, one of the most impacting lessons I learned during those humid Michigan days had to do with a simple toilet seat.

I had learned the importance of putting a toilet seat down through my formative years. It was this sort of strange gender argument that left women angry and men defensive.

SHE – “Why can’t you just put the damn seat down?”nHE – “If I can put it up, why can’t you just put it down your damn self?”

It was not something that I had put attention on. I remembered to put it down most of the time. Then, one evening, I was having dinner at my sister’s with my soon-to-be brother-in-law, and several of her attractive friends. I was three years younger than everyone at the table, slightly shy, and barely holding my own with the dinner discussion.

Somehow, the conversation shifted to the old toilet seat. My sister, in her usual brash New Yorker style, joked, “Yea, I went to go use the toilet this morning but Rob had left the toilet seat up and I almost fell in!” The table laughed, I colored, and felt the shame rise. She continued unmercifully “Yes, it is another example of how men treat women like shit.” The laughing continued; my bro averted his eyes from me leaving me to suffer the sins of our gender alone. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

Downstairs, I made a vow to never put myself in that position again. I would not be the laughing stock of women for my inability to spend the 1.2 seconds to lower the toilet seat. I would protect myself from their sharp eyes and wit. However, I then, in a strangely adult thought, realized that I was missing the deeper message. I had affected my sister’s life. It wasn’t in a life-threatening major way, but in this slight, uncomfortable, tender, minor way. My laziness was affecting someone I cared about.

Today, I live in a residence where the six toilets in the building are shared. When they are not in use, the doors to the WC are commonly left open. I often notice as I walk past, that at least 30% of the time the toilet seat is up. I always stop, turn, and spend the 1.2 seconds required to lower the seat.

I always get mad at the men in my house when this happens. A rage rises inside of me and I want to hunt down the person who is contributing to this epidemic. I call them an idiot in my mind and want to punish them. Then, another thought arises. I suspect that this man isn’t maliciously doing this, but didn’t have the benefit of a loving sister telling him the truth. This scofflaw is just ignorant. Instead of getting mad, I could just educate him.

I have the good fortune of teaching the Mindful Man class to men willing to learn how to interact with the Turned On Women in their lives. Teaching them to lower the toilet seat is usually the first step.