Anna Pedersen

Pissing and the public

Most animals have excretory systems for elimination of soluble wastes. Humans are no different. While we may regard ourselves as much more evolved, in many ways we still resemble all the other animals on the planet. There is one thing, however, that we seem to have missed.

For many animal species, piss is a useful bodily byproduct. Dogs and other animals use it to mark territory with scent. Cave rats make trails of urine to smell their way back through the deep darkness in the caves, where they live. Camels urinate on their legs, which helps them stay cool. Humans, on the other hand, have yet to find a socially acceptable use of the perfectly natural liquid. In the past, urine has been used for many industrial and agricultural purposes such as preparing leather or wool and as a basic ingredient in some medicines, but urinating is still regarded as something best kept private. Even with the many possible usages of urine and its completely natural relation to the human body, anything slightly toilet or bathroom-related is not something we generally share with others. Quite the contrary, in fact. Public urination is deemed illegal in most western countries, and in the United States more than ten states would register you as a sex offender, if you were caught. Recent trends on social media, however, seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

With the introduction of smartphones into everyday life, the younger generations are taking their public with them everywhere they go. Including the toilets and bathrooms. With selfies in the bathroom mirror, selfies on the toilet and pictures of excrement, that is later shared on the internet, they are letting their public into their personal space and redefining public urination.
Social media devices and smartphones in hand, we as a public are slowly starting to breach the wall of the cultural taboos surrounding piss. By letting the public into our most private of spaces, we are challenging the previously conceived notions of silence surrounding human waste and acknowledging that it is just that: human.

Perhaps taking piss, pissing and the private space of bathrooms into the somewhat public sphere of social media is the first step towards appreciating the many uses of urine as more than human waste, but a useful human byproduct that is not the least bit cringeworthy. Now, if we could only get people talking about it too.