For years we men have heard the complaints from our female counterparts, “put the toilet seat down,” and we have met this demand with quiet acceptance without much question as to why. While we still often forget to put the seat down and continue to draw the ire of our female family members, I for one have quietly wondered if the “seat down” position really is the most sensible position for a toilet when not in use.
A toilet seat has three positions. 1.) Lid and seat down 2.) Seat and lid up 3.) Seat down, lid up (the position in question). I believe a close examination of the pros and cons of each will show that in fact, the seat down and lid up position is actually the least desirable of the three.
Lid and seat down: This is the most sensible of the three positions. Completely covering a bowl of water where individuals deposit their waste seems inherently sensible from the perspective of hygiene. In fact, covering this bowl of water AFTER one makes a “deposit” and BEFORE one flushes, seems to make further sense in light of studies that have shown that fecal particulates can be propelled up to 20 feet from a toilet bowl when it is flushed. Anyone who has ever accidentally dropped a roll of toilet paper, make up, or any number of bathroom accessories into an open toilet bowl will see the advantage of keeping the lid down when the toilet is not in use. Being as I have never heard of any man or woman who has mistakenly used the toilet while in this position (at least while sober,) the only con of this position seems to be that it requires the most work. Both men and women would have to lift the seat and lid before use and then return it to the “down” position when finished. Given the propensity for absent mindedness that plagues the human condition, this just may not be realistic.
Seat and lid up: If you are a woman and live alone or only with other women, this position makes no sense. In fact, other than for the purpose of cleaning, your toilet may NEVER be in this position. However, if you live with men or boys, you are very familiar with this one and perhaps, have been agitated to find your toilet in this position prior to your use of it. I grew up with three younger sisters and have asked them and my mother on several occasions, what is it about this position that bothers them so much? The only answer I have ever received is some confusing narrative about going to sit down and actually falling into the toilet because they do not realize that the seat is up. When I ask if this has actually ever happened to them, the answers have been mixed, but my conclusion is that it is an awfully rare occurrence. Considering I take a seat on a toilet at least twice a day and this has NEVER happened to me personally, I wonder how much of a threat this happens to be. Nevertheless, it is certainly a reason to keep the toilet seat down so long as there isn’t a better reason not to…. This brings us to the third and final position.
Seat down and lid up: The “pro” is to prevent the nightmare scenario of falling into the toilet, but let us examine the cons. Men have an anatomical advantage of being able to urinate without sitting down and the proper way of doing this is with the toilet seat up. However, there are times, perhaps during the overnight when we are less lucid, or in our younger years when we are less considerate, when we fail to raise the seat and urinate with the seat down. While this is not an everyday occurrence, it is certainly more common than a woman falling into the toilet because the seat was up. Furthermore, we men are often inaccurate with our stream. This isn’t entirely our fault. For one, the addition of a prostate gland, that for some reason is right in the path of our urinary tract, can give us problems as we age. It can lead to issues with control, especially at the beginning and end of urine flow, as well as cause us to use the restroom more often; giving us increased opportunities for epic pee fails. Once more, the penis is made of skin, which is malleable and sometimes happens to be kinked in an awkward position before we urinate. Take a look at the toilet rim and even the floor around the toilet and you may find evidence of our misdeeds. Keep in mind, those are the just the ones we DIDN’T notice and failed to wipe up with a balled up piece of toilet paper. When the seat is in the upright position, the surface one sits on is facing the tank and cannot be hit by an errant stream. When one grabs the seat to place it in the down position, one can rest assured there is no urine on that surface. One cannot be certain that this is the case when sitting on a seat one finds in the down position. When a woman finds the toilet seat up, she shouldn’t be upset. She should feel assured that the seat being up means that the man who last urinated in the toilet didn’t do so with the seat down, thus exposing its surface to his less than perfect aim. Our likelihood as men to be careless or inaccurate while urinating is exactly why the seat should stay up.
Finally, for those wishing to argue that leaving the seat down is a matter of “chivalry,” I respond with this refutation. Nothing that takes place in the restroom falls within the confines of chivalry. It is a place where we humans engage in our nastiest of pursuits. It is a place where we expel waste, clean and maintain our orifices, vomit, deodorize, and trim, pluck and shave unwanted body hair. As a man, I will open the door for my female friends; I will lend them my jacket when they are cold. All I ask is that when it comes to the toilet seat; just give us a break on this one.