Sunday, December 8, 2013

Toilet Seat Politics

Forget the health care debate.  The real issue of our time is that of the toilet seat.  Should it be left up or down?  That is the real question, one which affects all of us who live in mixed gender households.

Many men are admonished by the women in their lives to "put the seat back down" after using the toilet.  However, this declaration makes some presuppositions that shouldn't be considered automatic.  After all, what is the natural state of the toilet seat?  Does the design of the toilet seat lend it to being put down as opposed to being left up?  Are there safety considerations?  What about the convenience factor of the other members of the family?

Given the design of most toilet seats, they just as easily remain up as they do down.  The exception to this is the foam filled toilet seat.  These tend to fall down and pose a safety hazard to midgets, dwarfs, and three year old boys.  These seats are best left down for the benefit of all.

Some women make the argument that they might accidentally fall in the toilet while attempting to pee at night if the toilet seat is left up.  However, I have yet to hear about this actually happening to anyone.  Besides, this is a matter of conscientiousness--one should always be paying enough attention to one's surroundings that one doesn't fall into the toilet.  From a legal perspective, this would fall under the "open and obvious" hazard which would exempt one from legal liability.

Next we move to convenience.  From a utilitarian perspective, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.  If there are more women than men in a household, there is naturally going to be more convenience for the many as opposed to the one by putting the seat down after use.  If you also consider in the fact that both sexes do number 2, then this argument is also "solidified," so to speak.

From a deontological point of view, leaving the seat up or down remains a question in itself that needs to be asked, not whether it is more practically beneficial for a greater number of people.  It doesn't seem to be morally useful in itself to consider the vertical status of the toilet seat.

Applying the Golden Rule after doing the golden sprinkle might make everyone happy.  Like the O'Henry story of the "Gift of the Magi," men would lift up the seat after peeing to please their wives while always finding it up after their wives sprinkle because their loved ones had done the same.  WWJD?  It depends on whether he was married or still living with male roommates.  My guess is that if he can walk on water, he can make the toilet seat do whatever he wants hands free.

While Freud might say that women become so angry about this issue because they have penis envy and the lowered seat is a reminder of this, I beg to differ.  Maybe we should be like Soloman and order the toilet seat be placed half up after every use to accommodate everyone.  Whoever decides to relent would then be the winner.

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