Before my son was toilet trained, I made so many notes charting what came out of his bum, I could have written my own ‘On the Origin of the Faeces’ – like Charles Darwin, only less beardy and without the tendency to eat what I found on my forays into his nappies.
I didn’t struggle to talk about it with fellow parents either.
Me: ‘Yeah, boy’s poo’s been so explosive this week, I reckon they could do away with the Hadron Collider and just use his colon instead.’
Fellow Mum: ‘Hah. They’d find some dark matter in my kid’s nappies, and no mistake.’
So you’d think us mums would be okay talking about our own effluent, right?
Christ most of the time we can’t even bring ourselves to let on that we do it.
V.I.Poo? For Real?
Which is why I wasn’t surprised to see the local supermarket had given shelf-space to Airwick’s V.I.Poo sprays.
Then I saw the delightfully tongue-in-arse-cheek commercial telling me I need no longer be worried about something every single creature on the planet has to do to survive!
Gotta confess, got me all worked up it did.
Contrary to getting excited at the prospect of being able to lay my cable (or brown donuts as the advert would inexplicably have them shaped) safe in the knowledge that all stench from the toilet trench would be trapped safely under a layer of perfumed environment-screwing chemicals, I actually thought:
“F*CK YOU AIRWICK, AND YOUR ANTI-FEMINIST FLORAL FECAL COVER-UPPERER”
Because, let’s face it, this is not a product targeting men. I cannot imagine my dad, who when he first met my husband’s parents apologised for the delay in answering the door because he ‘was just in the middle of a massive dump’, worrying too much about these matters.
No, I think this is aimed squarely at us ladies. Because apparently defecating smelly stuff does not fit with the ladylike box that we should be ticking. Christ, the advert even shows a succession of men going into the toilet after her and inhaling deeply, probably just to check that she wasn’t feeling so liberated that her bowels actually moved.
They may as well have been carrying a CONSTIPATION BEFORE EMANCIPATION banner with them.
Now I understand that anyone coming out of the toilet and talking about how they’ve just dropped a poo as big as a shoe could be seen as vulgar, but I can’t help but feel that the boys would be granted their obscenity allowance far more easily than us girls.
I also know that Air Wick didn’t invent misogyny. But they did, along with others like Poo Pourri, invent a product that highlights another alleged ‘reason’ for us to embarrassed about our bodies, even when they’re being healthy and fully-functional.
And, even worse, they decided to promote it ALL OVER KIDS TV (including Nickelodeon) so that our young, impressionable daughters get body shamed into thinking their crap should smell like freshly-baked cupcakes.
The Gift of Faecal Anxiety
It’s not just the patriarchy trying to pretend our butts are just for show. We perpetuate the delusion ourselves, gifting one another faecal anxiety by holding off if there’s someone else in the toilet, or praying for the hand dryer to start before we’re too far dilated and our anal contractions get the better of us.
I think we need to hit back.
I think we need to find a way of ensuring that the unabashed enthusiasm our kids have for their rectal functions lasts well into adulthood. We need to ensure the next generation of girls can go poop in a public toilet, the office bathroom or the en-suite of a one-night stand, without feeling the need to run the tap or pretending to cough as every bolus hits the water.
Surely it can’t be so difficult to get there?
What Can We Do To Change Things?
We already live in an over-sharing age. What if talking about our time in the toilet became the norm? People could write about it on a brand new self-hosted platform called LOGGER. We could start a Twitter trend, hashtag #StoolReports.
Perhaps ITV could commission ‘Through the Bumhole with Keith Lemon’, essentially an hour-long version of that bowel cancer advert only using B-list celebrities and you have to guess whose rectum the camera is up.
Or the BBC ‘Holy Crap?’ – a spin-off programme to Songs of Praise, in which people have to guess whether the stool samples they’re presented with have come from the bottom of a famous Catholic or not.
Because frankly I would rather see more ACTUAL SHIT on the television than crap like that Air Wick advert.