—From CB—

Normally, when encountering a Facebook post starting with “Men!” I skim past. I don’t really want to deny anyone’s actualities; nor do I want to defend any indefensible demographic; nor do I want to feel personally superior to others of my own gender. That’s all a lose/lose deal.

But I was drawn into the long-standing fray about the toilet seats of the world: up or down? Not that I really have any skin in the game. We have two cats, and if I were to leave the lid up, I’d find them having a slurp. I don’t need that.

But this issue isn’t something addressed in my Stanford doctoral studies. Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, Nietsche, Marx—none of these had the temerity to address the issue. Of course, those who were users of the old-fashioned privy with a hole in a board, or a convenient olive tree, would have had no occasion to wrestle with this issue. But in that case, is their philosophy truly relevant to our present needs?

One might approach it Platonically: does the Idea of “toilet” come with the seat down or up? Legalistically: does an “originalist” reading of the Constitution prescribe that it’s innately Up or Down? Sociologically: does this chronic controversy disadvantage heterosexual coupling and give an advantage to the gays?

Indeed, there are advocates of the principle of Immediate Need: if you need it up, flip it up; if it’s up and you need it down, flip it down. But does this not introduce a pernicious relativism into our culture of concrete principle?

And what about the idea of Freedom? As more women are elected to Congress and suffer the shock of a midnight squat into ceramic chill, will this induce legislation that’s the first step on a slippery slope into dictatorship?

I have no answers, but for households where this a significant point of contention, I would suggest getting a cat or a dog. It thereby assures gender equality: everyone will be obliged to raise or lower the lid.


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