One cannot venture far in modern society without encountering the belief that men—whether through ignorance, negligence or sheer barbarism—are insufficiently vigilant when it comes to ‘putting the toilet seat down’.

It is high time we viewed this issue through a more logical and equitable lens.

Imagine there are an equal number of men and women sharing the use of a given toilet bowl. (Here, ‘man’ is taken to mean ‘a person who, when urinating into a toilet bowl, does so from the upright position’.) Now imagine that each visitor to said toilet—man or woman—places the seat either up or down according to preference and need, then leaves the seat in that position upon the completion of their transaction. One can immediately see that the burden of raising or lowering the seat is shared equally between the sexes.

In fact, the males in this thought-experiment come out as second-class toilet citizens, since a proportion of their lavatory usage will, in the normal course of things, require the seat to be down anyway. It would be unusual for such a visitor to lift the seat again once their appointment has concluded. Therefore, assuming the next visitor is female, they will find to their delight that the seat is in the (optimal) horizontal position and not in the (angst-inducing) vertical position.

All other things being equal (the number of men using the toilet relative to the number of women, the ratio of bladder- to bowel-emptying, attentiveness to the position of the toilet seat and appropriate dealing therewith, etc), for every instance of a man or woman having to lower the toilet seat for the intended use, there will be a slightly greater number of instances of a man having to lift it.

Now consider the sought-after alternative. Imagine that we lived in a world in which men always lowered the toilet seat upon the termination of their lavatorial activities. Would this not also be a world in which women never had to raise the seat? Is this any way to achieve equality between the sexes? No reasonable person could fail to answer in the negative.

Perhaps this feminine insistence that the toilet seat remain in the horizontal position springs from the anxiety of sharing the lavatorial sanctum with the (arguably) less refined representative of the species. By keeping the toilet seat lowered, one need never acknowledge that the seat was, at some point, raised. One need never encounter evidence that the toilet has, in the immediate past, been the temporary receptacle for urine de l’homme. Were this indeed the case, it would not be too extreme to view it as an attempt to porcelain-wash men from the toilet picture.

Indeed, a by-product of the current confusion over who should raise or lower the seat (and when) is that we actually risk defiling the lavatorial space with unignorable and needlessly unpleasant evidence of male visitation. For while the consequences of accidentally sitting on the toilet when the seat is raised include mild embarrassment and the possibility of sustaining a bruised rump, the consequences of accidentally urinating into the toilet from the upright position while the seat is lowered include—but are not limited to—getting piss everywhere.


If we can’t all just get along perhaps we should revert to the simpler lidless waste receptacles of days of yore. Tin glazed earthenware female urinal, Wellcome Library, London, Museum No A625645.

If we can’t all just get along perhaps we should revert to the simpler lidless waste receptacles of days of yore. Tin glazed earthenware female urinal, Wellcome Library, London, Museum No A625645.



Why—when our time on this earth is so limited, and our attention divided as never before—do radio and television announcers insist, when drawing our attention to some website or other, on including the unnecessary and cumbersome prefix ‘double-u double-u double-u dot’ or (even more irksome) ‘dub dub dub dot’? Why, I ask, do these presumably otherwise intelligent individuals feel compelled to commit the sin of the ‘double-u double-u double-u double-up’?

It should be obvious from the context (“Visit our website at…”, for example) that one is referring to a resource located on the World Wide Web. Voicing the ‘www.’ component of a given website address is as gratuitous—nay, wasteful—as declaring “This week I’m going to read book.A Tale Of Two Cities” or “I’m off to see that new film, film.Harry And The Hendersons” or “You won’t see me for a while, I’m going to the room.toilet”.

It’s true that not all websites are configured to resolve automatically to the correct domain when the ‘www.’ prefix is omitted from their universal resource identifier. To anyone who owns or plans to visit such a website, I would simply request that you hurry up and join us in the 21st century. Oh, I’m sorry: that should probably be ‘century.21st century’.

It is also true that the common use of the ‘www.’ prefix was a historical accident. Well, so was the Hindenburg disaster. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

The point is this: let us omit the ‘www.’ and heal the disfiguring scar that blights URLs across the internet. Radio and television announcers: reduce wear and tear on your tongue, palate, lips and jaw, and on the fingers of your listeners. You’ll place us all on the path to a cleaner address bar, a more relaxed set of fingers, and a more civilised planet.Earth.