why do men spit in urinals and keep flushing while pissing?
February 17, 2013 8:44 AM   Subscribe

OK, weird question this week, but I have wondered about this for a while. I've noticed in public bathrooms there are a lot of men who either 1) spit in the urinal continuously while peeing or 2) keep pulling the flush handle while standing there pissing or 3) do both of these at the same time. I'm sure there are multiple reasons for why to do this, but I am curious as to your speculations about why they are doing it. Is the spitting some way of being macho? Is the constant flushing some way of disposing that which is "dirty"? the "normative" behavior is to piss and then flush, so why this variant (which also wastes a lot of water BTW)? Why the combination of both spitting and flushing? I think we may reveal something about male psychology or social ideology here.
posted by cmp4Meta to Society & Culture (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Some "pee shy" guys flush so that the sound of urination can't be heard. If nobody knows you're peeing, they also don't know when you're not, so the pressure is off, so to speak.
posted by xingcat at 8:46 AM on February 17, 2013


It is expedient (if gross) to spit while peeing in a urinal. Where else can people spit? The sink? That really is gross.
posted by ian1977 at 8:56 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's a combination of people being in a rush and the fact that nobody gives a shit about what other people think anymore.
posted by phaedon at 8:56 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally I think that deathly quiet public washrooms are one of the signs of the apocalypse, so when someone does a "courtesy" flush like that, I don't mind at all. There always should be exhaust fans or muzak or something so that the most intimate audible details of every excretory function are not profoundly shared amongst all the users of the room.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:08 AM on February 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am a lady. I occasionally spit in the toilet (what) and there are at least two ladies who share my office's bathroom who flush 4-5 times over the course of a pee session.
posted by phunniemee at 9:08 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


2) keep pulling the flush handle while standing there pissing
I cannot speak for urinals, but in Japan the toilets often have buttons that, when pushed, make fake flushing noises to hide whatever noises you make in the bathroom. Even the one in my apartment had this! Why? Because people would otherwise hide those same noises by flushing real water and it wastes a lot of water.
posted by whatzit at 9:11 AM on February 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think we may reveal something about male psychology or social ideology here.

The problem is (1) most men don't do these things, and (2) plenty of women do do these things (or the sitting-to-pee equivalent) but because of gendered bathrooms you don't notice.

I think you might get some nice conclusions about general all-around American bathroom customs and social ideology, or even about human psychology, but I don't think it's reasonable to draw any conclusions about male psychology specifically.

The very existence of the whole pee-shy phenomenon, already alluded to, probably tells you something deep about our attitude towards bodily functions, either as a specific culture or as a species in general...
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:17 AM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


That said, for me as an occasional urinal-spitter, the logic goes like this:

(1) My mouth's feeling kinda phlegmy, I wanna either spit or wash it out or something.
(2) Oh hey I'm standing here in front of this thing that's basically a giant flushable spittoon.
(3) And I mean, spitting in public is taboo — but whatever, pissing in public is taboo too. If we're already pretending that we're not "in public" here, then fuck it, I'm gonna spit.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 9:23 AM on February 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've wondered the same thing but always assumed it was just a bad habit because there doesn't seem to be any reason someone would absolutely need to spit while standing at a urinal. Those people are probably the same ones who are spitting outside in the parking lot, on the sidewalk, in the park, etc.
posted by Dansaman at 9:41 AM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I cannot speak for urinals, but in Japan the toilets often have buttons that, when pushed, make fake flushing noises to hide whatever noises you make in the bathroom.

Japan, you never fail to amaze me. (Seriously.)

In response to the question, it is probably a mix between social conditioning and alleviating some sort of discomfort. The spitting may be a habit for some that has carried over from younger years when boys would try to be macho in the bathroom. A lot of spitting went on among boys in my younger years, and not just in the bathroom. Now, it's a habit.

Keep in mind, too, that people develop subtle tics around behaviors that they find slightly embarrassing, or feel as if they may be watched. A lot of people have subtle hangups around the bathroom that they may find a physical tic to help alleviate. It's like tapping your pencil or having a jumpy foot during an exam.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:01 AM on February 17, 2013


I try to time the flush so that I finish at the same time the flush finishes, to maximize throughput. Sometimes I get it wrong and have to flush twice.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:42 AM on February 17, 2013


I have a cat who continuously drums on the wall with one paw while pissing or pooping in the litter box -- -- why ask why...
posted by Abinadab at 12:16 PM on February 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Previously on both spitting and flushing, just so you know you're not the only one wondering.
posted by misterbrandt at 12:24 PM on February 17, 2013


Strange things happen when men see a drain.
posted by Catchfire at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because boys are gross!

No, women do this kind of stuff all the time too (because many people are weird and gross).
posted by heyjude at 1:53 PM on February 17, 2013


Re: number 2...

Sometimes the sound of water flowing....helps...get the water flowing...
posted by Exchequer at 5:41 PM on February 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of toilets and flushing and such in Japan, a surprising number of urinals in Japan are actually set to flush when someone begins standing in front of it, rather than only when they leave.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:22 PM on February 17, 2013


I've always heard and found that flushing the urinal while peeing prevents splash-back.
posted by General Malaise at 9:08 AM on February 18, 2013


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