Last Sunday, while I was standing in front of a restaurant in Quezon City, a man obliquely across the street stopped walking, positioned himself between a post and wall and urinated. An all too familiar scene in Metro Manila.
Yes, men and women have biological differences. Women menstruate, get pregnant, give birth and breastfeed, and men cannot do any of that. But in terms of bladder functions, men and women are no different. Yet men seem to be able to control their bladder less and see nothing wrong with urinating in public rather than wait until they can get to a toilet. They urinate on walls, behind electric and telephone posts, on car tires. Just like dogs. The only difference is that human males don’t lift a leg after the deed is done.
No, it’s not the indecency that bothers me. Urinating is a natural function and there shouldn’t be any question of decency involved. We all do it, male and female of whatever race and color, rich and poor, educated or otherwise. The issue is one of sanitation. If we were living in the jungles where urinating and defecating directly into the soil can even mean fertilizing it, there would be no issue. But in cities where concrete roads and sidewalks cannot absorb the urine and where it has to stay as a breeding ground for bacteria and for everyone to step on until the sun can dry the concrete (the stench will remain though especially if the same spot is urinated on several times a day), it is an altogether different situation. Ergo, public urinals without plumbing and flushing water equipment are no answers.
And that was where the MMDA’s project of installing pink urinals with no flushing mechanisms all over the metropolis failed big time. It seems that the project was focused more on providing an opaque curtain so that the public does not have to watch while men urinate in public places. And that was all that pink urinals managed to achieve – save the public the trouble of having to look the other way. Never mind protecting the public from the effects of the unsanitary practice.
But while passersby were saved the trouble of going wide-eyed with the “indecent exposure,” they still couldn’t ignore the stench and invisible bacteria that only grew worse with every hour. Men who used them urinated directly on the ground which leads to the all-too obvious conclusion that the urinals weren’t placed there for sanitary reasons but, rather, to conform with the moral standards of Bayani Fernando and his definition of indecency which, according to friends who are long-time residents of Marikina, go so far as to ban men from wearing sando (sleeveless undershirts) or going totally bare-chested outside the perimeters of their houses.
But Bayani Fernando and his pink urinals aren’t really the point right now. The urinal project might have been scrapped for all I know. I’ve seen many of them rusting so the MMDA can’t be seriously maintaining them. I merely mentioned them to point to one obvious fact — government’s attitude towards the issue of men urinating in public places has never been related to sanitation.
Why? Why is government taking the attitude that it is all right for males to urinate just about anywhere instead of developing the discipline to hold their water until they can get to the next gasoline station? Does government hold the findings of some secret scientific study that says males will fall ill and die if obliged to wait to make use of proper toilet facilities like women do? In the cities where government seems to think the urinals are most necessary, there is no shortage of gasoline stations with toilet facilities. In fact, in the most congested areas, there is often more than one gasoline station in every block. So why can’t men use them?
The answer, of course, is because culture tolerates their unsanitary habits. And with the way culture finds itself into the law and government policies, government comes up with projects like the waterless urinals which, ironically, does nothing but encourage men to continue with their filthy habits.
Oh, don’t shake your head and say the average person doesn’t tolerate it. I’ve attended fiestas and parties where, instead of bringing their young sons to the host’s bathroom, mothers too busy gossiping waved them off and told them to go pee in the garden or behind some post with the usual explanation to their friends, “Lalaki naman ‘yan.” As if that made it all right.
No question about it. The tolerance Filipinos show for these inconsiderate males is just one of the many double standards in our culture. It is all right for men to pull out their penises and urinate in public because they are men. But if women lift their skirts and urinate in public, it is disgusting and downright unacceptable. It’s the same mentality that says it is “normal” for men to engage in extramarital affairs.
I already anticipate responses from men saying then let females pee in public to make things equal if that should make me happy. So, I’ll preempt them by saying, “Just because you’re too weak to overcome your bad habits and weaknesses doesn’t mean we women want to be dragged down to the level of your filth.”