Welcome to Butt Week, friends! An entire week dedicated to butts and butt-adjacent stuff: how-tos, thoughtful essays, original art, pop culture critiques, music and more! You are absolutely not ready for this and yet it is happening to you, right now. Today Malic makes the researched and cited case for farting right in front of your partner! Just do it!
Everybody farts. You fart. Your therapist farts. And that cute barista who only charges you for black coffee when you order an oat milk latte? Oh yeah, she farts, too. She was probably farting this morning while making said latte, relying on the loud slurping sound of the milk steamer to cover the sound. If that doesn’t impress you, then you don’t deserve her.
It’s Butt Week here at Autostraddle, and while my queer colleagues take on the sexier side of all things ass, I’m here to write in defense of farts. You’re welcome. Lesbian relationship expert Dr. Frankie of Are You The One? fame insists that we should never fart in front of partners lest we ruin “the mystique,” and to that I say, what mystique?! Does anyone really believe that the people we love don’t fart? We are all farting all the time. Some of us are just good at hiding it. Consider this your invitation to stop hiding, loosen your cheeks, and let your sphincter siren sing for the one(s) you love.
First, a quick Farting 101: We fart because we’ve swallowed air throughout the day and because the large intestine produces gas when it’s breaking down our food. All of that gas has to escape somehow, so it exits through your mouth in the form of a burp or it bolts from your butt in a trumpeting toot. Sure, we can take steps to reduce our farting if we quit chewing gum, cut down on the La Croix, chew our food more thoroughly, and eschew Brussels sprouts, but we’re going to keep on breaking wind. If you have a digestive illness like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or colitis, you probably fart more than the average person, but even those with healthy digestive systems fart between 5 and 23 times per day. It’s a normal and necessary bodily function, but most of us (particularly those of us who aren’t dudes) are taught that farting is deeply embarrassing, especially when it happens in the presence of the people we date.
A Mic poll that surveyed 125 people in their twenties and thirties found that just over half of its respondents had farted in front of their partner within six months of dating, but over a quarter of those surveyed waited longer than six months to a year (a YEAR!) before openly breaking wind. Those folks were either holding in their farts or hiding them, and the internet contains a rich archive of various fart-stifling techniques. Some people spread their cheeks to prevent their farts from making sound. Others employ the dubious “cough-while-you-fart” method or save their farts for a visit to the bathroom. For the first few months of dating my girlfriend, I employed a technique that the internet dubs the “muffled tailpipe”, which involves wadding up toilet paper and holding it over your booty hole to muffle the sound of your flatulence.
Folks, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic. Many of us have quarantined with our partners, sometimes in tiny apartments, and that makes hiding our farts a little more complicated. So stop hiding! Cut one loose in front of the boo! Here are five reasons why you should start farting in front of your partner ASAP:
1. Holding in your farts hurts.
Squeezing your cheeks together and keeping your farts inside isn’t going to kill you, but it definitely won’t feel good. When you hold in your farts, you might experience pain, bloating, indigestion, or heartburn. “Mystique” isn’t worth gastrointestinal discomfort! Plus, those farts you’re holding in will have to escape at some point, and you might not be able to control when that happens.
2. Holding in your farts increases the likelihood that you’ll pass gas at an unexpected (and inopportune) time.
The longer you keep those farts inside, the less control you have over when and where they escape. Some moments are undeniably better for farting than others (i.e. farting while you and your partner are watching PEN15 vs. farting during sex). Of course, you might seize every ideal farting opportunity and still accidentally let one rip while you’re banging. It happens. Laugh and take it in stride.
3. You’re giving your partner permission to fart, too.
If you’ve never noticed your partner’s farts, they’re definitely engaging in some kind of theatrics to hide them, and they’d probably breathe a sigh of relief if they knew they could let loose. Go ahead and open the farting door — you’ll both feel more comfortable, physically and mentally.
4. Farting in front of partners builds intimacy.
The Mic survey found that most people fart in front of their partners right around the six month mark, which is when partners in long-term relationships typically say “I love you.” Farting and dropping the L-word both signal that you’re comfortable around each other. You’re willing to be vulnerable and honest, and isn’t that what love and connection is all about? If you’ve been putting parts of your bodies inside each other’s bodies, you should be able to acknowledge that those bodies also fart.
5. It’s funny (to some of us)!
You probably thought this article would be all farts and games, but I can’t write about flatulence without writing about patriarchy. A study published in the journal Social Problems found straight men were most likely to think that farts are funny. More than half of straight women and “non-heterosexual” men were uncomfortable farting in front of others because they feared that farting made them less attractive, and “non-heterosexual” women were the least likely to laugh at a fart.
The short version: Most of us who aren’t straight, cis dudes are expected to have better control over our bodily functions. That messaging comes from our families, our relationships, and the media (remember how Carrie Bradshaw responded when she farted in front of Mr. Big?). We’ve learned to stigmatize farting, and that socialization is hard to undo. I’m asking you to try to undo it because — wait for it — farting is a feminist issue! Releasing your butt valve in front of a partner is a radical act of rebellion! When you laugh at your own farts and at your partner’s farts, you are laughing in the face of misogyny! Partners who fart together dismantle the patriarchy together! Does that make you want to let one rip? I certainly hope so.