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Bathroom Politics This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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At school, it's common to hear one girl ask another, “Want to go to the bathroom with me?” But I have never thought to ask that of a guy friend. I doubt I would get a positive reaction if I did. The male bathroom experience is utterly ­different from that of the female.

Even in the most disheveled of men's rooms, there are rules. An ­unspoken etiquette is observed, ­especially when it comes to selecting a urinal. One must always furnish neighbors with a buffer zone of at least one urinal. If this is not an option, look up and ­pretend to be deep in thought. In addition, avoid all communication, along with unnecessary eye contact.

I believe that women's social ­behavior in the bathroom shows their confidence and illustrates men's insecurity. The women's bathroom is a destination where they can talk without men overhearing. Guys hardly take advantage of this privacy and experience their restroom without the chit chat. We feel free to debrief each other on our weekend escapades and talk about personal issues outside the bathroom, but never in it.

Personally, the question of whether to use the stall or the urinal haunts me most. Urinals may be crowded, possibly with people I wouldn't want to stand next to, like an eighth grader picking his nose and wearing smelly gym shorts. Stalls are a safe-haven where I can sit in privacy and read about how “John was here,” or “Stop writing things on the wall, John. You aren't funny.” But urinals represent a privilege of manhood; I don't want to seem like less of a man for choosing a stall.

High school students are heading toward a bathroom upheaval: college co-ed restrooms. After spending our bathroom lives separated and operating under dramatically different social codes, how are men and women supposed to adapt to sharing bathrooms? Will we talk ­together? Will men start visiting the bathroom in groups? Will I finally be able to ­escape the awkwardness of the men's room?

Change is necessary for us to gracefully handle our college bathroom ­experience. I am tired of following stringent rules, but at the same time, treating this place like a living room seems inappropriate and unhygienic.

What can I do to spark this change and to help prepare both my fellow men and myself for the college experience ahead? Maybe next time I'm in the bathroom I will ask someone how his day is going, or what he thinks of the tasteless graffiti on the wall.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 32 comments. Post your own!

Tessa I. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm:
This is really bizarrely delightful.  It makes me terrribly happy to know that there are people in the world who think about these things in such an entertaining and intelligent way.
 
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CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 16, 2009 at 9:25 pm:
I love this article! It really made me think about the difference between guys and girls in regards to the bathroom, which never occured to me before.
 
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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 20, 2009 at 11:09 am:
Ha ha. Funny. This is why we go to the bathroom in groups.
 
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Robby C. said...
Oct. 7, 2009 at 8:29 pm:
I thought this was hilarious! "Bathroom politics". Ha! What a funny concept. I had never thoght of it that way.
 
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kennedy_rowzz said...
Sept. 28, 2009 at 2:50 pm:
This is totally true, you have expanded my horizons with this intresting topic.
 
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musicgirl757 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 16, 2009 at 2:18 am:
I really like this, its very clever. Its sort of an odd topic I would have never thought about, but the most important part of writting is originality, which is defenitly here! Very nice work, funny and clever!
 
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morgie7<3 said...
Jun. 15, 2009 at 12:01 am:
this was good in a weird sort of way. I have never thought about it before. Thanks for your opinion, I loved the 'John was here' thing!! Great job and keep writing!
 
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amiriof This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm:
As a guy, I have to totally agree with this article! This was written very well, I love your intellectual/slightly-humorous tone, and it was interesting to see how you made an ordinary topic into something interesting and very fresh.
 
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Abigail_W said...
Jun. 14, 2009 at 1:10 pm:
Wow . . . I've never really put that much thought into going to the bathroom. But then again, I'm a girl.
 
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bethanibubbles said...
Jun. 12, 2009 at 4:10 pm:
Interesting topic. I have never thought of anything like this. It totally makes sense.
 
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Lauren S. said...
Jun. 12, 2009 at 6:57 am:
I love this!! Your tone is clever, insightful and very fun to read. It's a great skill to take a seemingly meaningless topic like the bathroom and, with witty satire, turn it into an up-to-date opinion piece that leaves the reader yearning for more. Well done :)
 
EnderWiggin replied...
Nov. 3, 2011 at 3:23 pm :
I concur with the above comment. Well done, good sir! If we attended the same school, I am positive that we would get along nicely.
 
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