I have a confession to make. I sit down on public toilet seats.
I’m aware this is a polarizing issue. I myself have managed to seriously date at least two women who are vehement non-public-toilet-seat-sitters. And I do my best to respect their — and every other non-public-toilet-seat-sitters’ — opinion and unreasonable germophobic feelings on the matter.
But do you know what I do not respect? When non-public-toilet-seat-sitters, aka Hoverers of Doom, leave little tiny pee sprinkles all over the damn place. Don’t do that. That is gross, and disrespectful, and gross.
Maybe you have a very good reason for being a non-public-toilet-seat-sitter. Like maybe a lizard once crawled on you while you were sitting on a toilet seat and now the feeling of porcelain against your butt just brings back awful crawly feelings and you can’t bear to go down that path. That would be truly terrible and I’m sorry. But probably this isn’t the case because where are there even lizards wandering around besides, like, Florida? I went to Florida once, and all that happened re: lizards was that one ran over my foot. And it was so tiny and delightful! I would totally have let it crawl on me.
Probably your public toilet seat phobia is about germs. You’re scared of getting other people’s bacteria on yourself. Well, consider this: the sponge you use to wash your dishes can hold up to 200,000 times more bacteria than the average toilet seat. 200,000! That has got to be at least five football fields worth of bacteria. And you use that that to clean your dishes. (And even if you have a dishwasher, you know you still use sponges for things.)
A lot of public toilet seats actually pass the sanitary surface test — that is, they have less than 1,000 bacteria per square inch and are technically clean enough to eat off of. Yes, that does seem like a lot of germs to me too but I don’t make the rules. Also, a majority of the species of bacteria* actually found on a toilet seat are common skin microbes that people generally already carry. That means they pose essentially zero threat to most non immuno-compromised humans.
(*Species of Bacteria is officially the name of my new all-female noise metal band, so don’t try to steal it.)
Do you know what are the the most bacteria-laden things in a public bathroom? Your damn hands. And they’re the things most likely to transfer those nasty germs to places: like other people, and your face. The floor is pretty horrible, too. There are MILLIONS of bacteria per square inch on it, and yet you have most likely set your purse or backpack down on it and then later put that same floor purse or backpack onto your bed, haven’t you? Haven’t you? Your mother and I are fainting with disgust.
Let’s also just once and for all debunk the myth that you can somehow get a sexually transmitted something-or-other from a toilet seat. Disease-causing organisms can’t survive for very long on the surface of a seat, so the only way it could happen is if you are having actual sex with another person while on that toilet seat, and in which case I would like to politely ask you to finish up because there’s a whole line of people out here who would really like to pee before Hunter Valentine comes on.
See? Public toilet seats aren’t so bad, after all. There’s totally no need to hover. Hovering is even bad for your vagina muscles, because when you’re tensed from standing but you’re also trying to pee, you have to push harder , which can lead to an increased risk of incontinence. And we all want to keep those vagina muscles as happy and healthy and continent as possible, now don’t we? Of course we do. Plus, hovering is tough for those of us who are lazy and hate doing chair pose. Or those of us who were forced to go hiking as a kid and were not very athletic and who didn’t sit back far enough when they had to squat near a tree and basically peed all over the back of their pants and shoes and then had to keep hiking. That’s a thing that maybe happened. That’s a thing that might have caused some hovering-related PTSD.
Look, if you still really really really can absolutely not in 200,000 football fields bear the thought of sitting down on a public toilet seat, fine. We’re in a fight now, but fine.
Could you please stop fucking peeing on the seat, though?
Public bathrooms are complicated enough. They’re these weird, gender-policed, liminal spaces where our public lives and private needs are forced to intersect. The only way to make them bearable is to respect the way that everyone must come together and use them. In the immortal words of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: “The hardest thing in this world is to live in it.” Let’s all try not to make it any harder on each other, or on ourselves. Fight female incontinence! Fight to keep public spaces clean and pee-free! Damn the man, SAVE THE TOILET SEAT.