I was running. My breath caught in my throat. My insides twisted like mangled tree branches after a hurricane. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I was so close, taking the stairs two at a time. The keys, I needed the keys, but they fell out of my trembling hand. I finally unlocked the door and flung it open. My roommate sitting on the couch, confused. “I’M ABOUT TO POOP MY PANTS,” I shout on my way to the can.
You may have chuckled a little bit but this is real and actually happened some time ago. I’m a woman, I poop and I perform many other ‘gross’ bodily functions. I’m going to let you in on a secret, too: Your girlfriend? She poops. Your mother? She poops. Your grandmother? She poops, too. Yet for some strange reason, I’ve met individuals and heard instances of those who thought when they were children—or as old as 47— that females don’t poop or fart.
The individual above is far into his adulthood but he says he’s never even heard his wife pass gas in their nearly 20 years of marriage. Women are often embarrassed by their bodily functions and this can cause certain insecurities to arise in their romantic relationships.
Too many times have I heard a female friend say that she would never poop at her significant other’s house, nor would she fart in front of them. This shyness comes over us women simply because we have been painted as delicate flowers who could produce no foul smells or obnoxious sounds—from either end. There is too much of a negative association between beauty and passing gas or pooping. One individual’s answered on a Quora forum that he thought girls didn’t fart, “especially the pretty ones.” On a different forum, another individual places emphasis on the fact that he didn’t think pretty women farted.
Even in public restrooms where we are surrounded by other women, we become shy. We sit on the toilet hoping that the plop isn’t too loud so the woman in the next stall isn’t offended. We pull our feet up, so they can’t recognize our shoes. We wait for the bathroom to clear out before exiting the stall in shame. We should not be feeling ashamed of something natural.
Several men, on the other hand, have no qualms about burping loudly, scratching their balls, and hacking up phlegm to leave on the pavement as a gift for the next passerby. Many men and women find it acceptable for men to show these behaviors but why is this the case? Why is it okay for men to share with the world what their bodies can do, whilst women are ridiculed and frowned upon for such ‘unlady-like’ behavior.
One cause of this issue lies in parental influence. There are numerous instances of parents telling their children blatant lies about the bodily functions of a female. One person was told as a child that girls don’t fart until after they have children, thus protecting the idea that his sister was as prim and proper as a lady should be. This individual’s parent told him a lie to protect the stigma and this is not the only parent to do so.
In another case, a boy didn’t believe that a girl was in fact, a girl, because she farted in front of him when they were just children.
So, us girls and women fulfill our bodily duties—pun intended—which are entirely natural and human, yet these acts are a taboo topic of conversation or not even discussed at all. If such conversations do arise, there is a denial of women’s involvement in simply being human.
These attitudes are transferred from parents to their children which, in turn, become present throughout schools. Kids get ridiculed about it in school and are even embarrassed by peers if they pass gas in front of the opposite sex or anyone, for that matter. Especially during the years that puberty runs rampant, it’s hard for children and teens to endure that embarrassment.
In elementary school, taking too long in the bathroom is room for ridicule in the eyes of other students. As a female, I’ve dealt with having to hide these things. There is a certain pressure put on little girls to perfectly satisfy the “ladylike” persona imposed on us.
Transparency and candor, even about something as mundane as this, should be accepted and normal.
As children continue to grow, they take these kinds of experiences with them. Moving through middle and high school, I constantly heard my peers talk about how they would never poop in the bathrooms at school. It then becomes cyclical as these children become adults and begin building their own families, it is likely that they will impart similar attitudes onto their own children. Obviously, this isn’t the case for every household. As one mother demonstrates in her own home, she turned a key moment into a lesson for the better. Her three-year-old daughter was standing in the kitchen when she lets one rip. The daughter asked, “Do girls do that? Do girls fart?” The mom then proceeded to reassure her daughter that yes, girls do fart, and also perform plenty of other gross bodily functions. In a wonderful display of honesty and respect for the human body, this parent has set a precedent that should be regularly carried out.
Despite one parent’s ability to break down the stigma, there does seem to be a level of frequency in other households that should be found unacceptable. The key to combating the oppression of the poop is redefinition and new teachings. Not only do we have to draw new lines around our defintion of female beauty but we have to start from the beginning by changing how we bring our children into this society. Too often are little boys told that girls don’t poop. Too often are little girls told to sit pretty and act like ladies. We have to search for the perfect balance. By teaching the new generations not to fear what is natural, the stigma will deflate.
In targeting the children, it’s imperative that we emphasize that beauty should be defined as human. Women are viewed as icons of beauty and grace but according to our current perceptions, that does not include all aspects of the female body. Transparency and candor, even about something as mundane as this, should be accepted and normal.
We must also teach our children that men have to consider their actions just as much as women are told to do so. What people do in their own homes is up to them. My whole point is, though, that no human should be embarrassed by the sounds and smells that come out of our bodies. This does not mean, however, that we shouldn’t be conscious of when or where we’re releasing. When raising the kids of the future, it should be done so with equality. Little girls AND little boys should be taught there’s a time and place for everything.
We are moving into an age where women should not be embarrassed about being alive. We are not pictures in a frame to be hung on the wall and ogled at. We are not knick-knacks to be displayed on bookshelves. We are flesh and blood. Beyond teaching children how to proceed with understanding and acceptance of the female anatomy, we as women must not perpetuate the blemish on the face of society. We cannot fall prey to the ideas that we must be anything less than true to our nature.