Growing up, I’d always thought of pooping – yes, we’re going there today – as something shameful. Something that I had to do in secret, with no one knowing about it. For instance, I would be too embarrassed to leave the bathroom stall at school for fear that someone else who was in the facilities would judge me upon hearing the deafening “plop” sound. And yes, at the time (and sometimes even now), the “plop” certainly felt deafening to me.
I’m warning you now, turn away if the topic of poop grosses you out. And by the way, if this topic does gross you out, then we can never be friends.
Anyway, I digress. Going back to the original discussion, what made pooping especially shameful for me was the fact that I was pooping as a girl. Girls don’t poop; they shouldn’t anyway, if the portrayal of girls and women in the media and society in general is any indication. Girls are supposed to be clean, pristine, angel-like, delicate. I will take a step back here and say that this perception is also a creation put upon ourselves, by ourselves. We lead boys to believe that we don’t poop (or fart) because generally, we wanted to seem pretty, innocent, untainted. This was my experience anyway. I know it’s not the same for everyone and of course, I don’t mean to speak for the entire female population, but purely based on my anecdotal observations when thinking back to my school days, I can definitely say that this mindset existed beyond just myself.
An article from the Huffington Post starts off with the author admitting that in high school, she and her friends convinced a group of guys that girls don’t poop! I’m not making this stuff up. Ladies, we must also take responsibility! That being said, we were all young and naive; we were growing up in an environment that told us how to behave, and somehow pooping just didn’t align with the sort of behaviour that was gently but surely drilled into our young minds over many years.
I’d like to think that things have changed for the better; and to be sure, they definitely have. I’ve seen and read about vast amounts of improvement in women’s lives and I constantly remind myself to not just think about the disadvantages and obstacles that we still face, but instead to take a step back and look at the progress that has been made.
Nevertheless, I’ve come across my fair share of men (yes, men, adults!) whom apparently refuse to believe that girls poop. Let’s be real, deep down, they know that it’s a biological phenomenon that happens to everybody. But when the topic somehow arose, I was presented with squirming, discomfort, disgust, and a general sense that I was transported back to my elementary school playground where “girls had cooties”. One guy even justified his conviction by providing me with “evidence”! Because a girl he dated for two years never pooped at his house, it simply just never happened, period. Again, I’m not making this stuff up.
Guys, I know you mean well. But these beliefs have got to go. The disgust when the topic of pooping is related to the female sex has got to go. If you’re repulsed by pooping in general, then maybe we can have a separate conversation. But I’ve spoken with guys who say that with their “buddies”, pooping is a hilarious topic of discussion; however, when it came to females…well, you know how it goes.
There are even products targeted towards women to mask the odour of ~*~the droppings~*~. The hilarity of this commercial aside, I’m rather offended that this product is seemingly being advertised towards women only. The ad not-so-subtly implies that pooping, or the smell of it, can be a dire consequence, especially if you’re at work (emphasis read in a British accent, as per the commercial), or at a party, or God forbid, at your lover’s. The ad jokingly goes on to say that this product might very well save your relationship. It’s one of those things where I want to laugh, where I want to find it funny, where I don’t want to be that one person with a stick up my ass, but I can’t. This ad is regressive and it’s forsaking the respect of women for humour and profits. I absolutely believe that this ad could have been created with equal humour but none of the casual sexism. But alas, this ad was unfortunately created because its messaging actually works. It speaks to women.
According to this article in the National Post, a whopping 71% of women “go to great lengths to avoid defecating – especially in a public washroom”. Do you know how few things 71% of any population agree on? In a similar vein, 64% of readers of “Is It Normal?” voted that they don’t want their boyfriend to know that they’re pooping. I think you get the gist by now. The unrealistic expectations imposed upon young girls absolutely permeates into our behaviour in adulthood, and pooping (of all things, I know) is a classic example. Women are pure, women do not do and excrete foul things. Simple as that.
This post starts off addressing the “bro”, but I want folks who identify as female and who want to change social perceptions in general to also take responsibility into their own hands for changing the societal perception of women. This change needs to start early. It needs to begin by educating our children that girls and boys are equal in every way, and neither gender needs to act in any specific manner. Girls don’t need to be delicate and can play rough if they want to, and boys can unreservedly show emotion and cry if they so wish. While I’m very happy that I discovered feminism, which has opened my eyes to a variety of issues beyond gender alone, my hope is that the children of the future won’t have to. Rather than blindly following certain societal norms or feeling their way in the dark alleys of discovering who they are, I would want the future generation to be unconstrained by gender norms and free to act in a way that doesn’t harm others and is true to themselves.
So that’s it folks, the poop post concludes. Now excuse me as I go have a green smoothie with flax (you know what’s good).