John Banzhaf's Toilet Humor


Contrary to the rumors you may have heard, peeing while standing up is still perfectly legal in Germany. Last week I got a press release from litigation enthusiast John Banzhaf that opened with the startling assertion that "in Germany–and soon in Great Britain–men are being told to sit down while they urinate, or face stiff fines." The thing is, they're being told this not by the authorities but by a novelty item called the WC Ghost. The Telegraph reports that

the battery-operated devices are attached to the seats and deliver stern warnings to those who attempt to stand and urinate…

"Hey, stand-peeing is not allowed here and will be punished with fines, so if you don't want any trouble, you'd best sit down," one of the devices orders in a voice impersonating the German leader, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. Another has a voice similar to that of his predecessor, Helmut Kohl.

The manufacturers of the WC ghost, Patentwert, say they are ready to direct their gadgets at the British market.

Their prototype English-speaking WC ghost says in an American drawl: "Don't you go wetting this floor cowboy, you never know who's behind you. So sit down, get your water pistol in the bowl where it belongs. Ha, ha, ha."

For Banzhaf, the WC Ghost is an excuse to remind his e-mail list that he "has been called [by himself, mainly] the 'Father of Potty Parity.'" As recipients of Banzhaf's self-promoting missives know all too well, "potty parity" is the idea that women have a right to more public toilets than men because they spend more time in there–an idea so silly that even Banzhaf treated it as a joke when he first wrote about it in 1990. Even now that he has adopted the cause as his own, he can't resist endlessly punning on the topic:

Some had suggested that one answer to the longer waits women now endure is to require them to use a female equivalent of a urinal; a device said to speed up the process. But, if some men are going to start going sitting down, the issue is seemingly reversed. "How can we ask women to stand up for their rights if men don't," says Banzhaf. This is one situation in which the trickle down theory certainly doesn't work….

Punsters will no doubt have fun with this new campaign, just as they did with the initial more serious issue of potty parity. In that regard there are jokes that women have to wait a she-tunity in pee-gatory, suffering from no-stall-gia and assault and bladdery, because they are under-privy-ledged. On the other hand, men-nopause while they exercise a male pee-rogative and stand up for their rights. A new device being advertising on the Internet says that it allows women to urinate standing up at an ordinary urinal, thereby permitting women to "stand by your man!"

If you thought John Banzhaf was humorless, this spurt of urine jokes may not convince you otherwise. But it's so bizarre (or, as Banzhaf might say, pee-culiar) that you have to marvel once again at the man's imperviousness to embarrassment.

NEXT: Republicans Against Prohibition

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  1. I’d like to get a device that reminds women to put the seat back up before they leave.

  2. I was wondering two things:

    1) Is the WC Ghost just another thing related to the odd german toilets discussed here. I would say it probably is related.

    2) I like how ‘potty parity‘ is used to describe a condition of favoritism. Giving women more stalls than men isn’t ‘parity’, unless you’re talking about ‘wait time parity’. But that’s not the name used. Besides, it’s not mens’ faults that we can use the infamous trough.

  3. The obvious solution is to piss on the ghost until he gets disgusted and finds some other less annoying dimension to haunt.

  4. I think Ken Shultz is right about the drive to make men urinate sitting down being related to German-style toilets. I lived in Germany for three years, and only there do I remember 1) splashing being a serious concern and 2) being urged to sit down.

    Is anyone aware of any “men must sit while peeing” movement here in the U.S.?

  5. Ugh… I need a toilet after reading that.

  6. Thanks for enabling me to add “Sitzpinkel” to my vocabulary…

  7. I only have one question: How can a man pee sitting down, especially first thing in the morning when his willie is poking him in the navel and any attempt to aim it downward and between the legs would result in the immediate stoppage of the urine stream?

  8. Larry,

    I don’t know anything about German style toilets; I was just commenting on the lack of parity in the seat up/seat down controversy brewing in bathrooms everywhere across America.

    Many American women seem to assume that the seat belongs down. When a man leaves the seat up, it’s almost considered an act of barbarism, something like picking your nose in public. But those kinds of gender specific assumptions about acceptable behavior have been inflicted on us by our patriarchal heritage; they should be challenged in the 21st century. You’d think we’d be past all that by now, but, obviously, we’re not.

    So listen up ladies; it really is inconvenient putting the seat back up all the time. So please, for goodness sake, put the seat back up when you’re through. It’s only common courtesy!

  9. Having grown up in as the youngest of four and the sole male I learned early on about the female obsession with toilet seat position.

    If the seat was up, they raised hell because I had not put it down.

    If the seat was down, they raised hell because I must not have raised it to start with and were thus guilty of wetting the seat.

    If I closed the lid, they raised hell.

    My conclusion, the female of the species has an aversion to touching the toilet seat, other than with their butt or a sponge.

  10. Or maybe they just like raising hell.

  11. Woman want the seat down because they get up in the middle of the night to pee, and they don’t want to turn on the light because it will hurt their eyes. The result: They fall in the toilet if it is up because they can’t see in the dark and they are too sleepy to remeber to check whether or not the seat is up or down. Therefore, women want the seat down so that they don’t fall in the toilet. It is also true that women like to raise hell, but hey, simple and quiet women would be very boring indeed (at least to this guy).

  12. Word for word quotation from the Plumbing volume of the Florida Building Code 2001:

    “403.1.1 Potty Parity. In assembly occupancies, restrooms which are open to the public must have a ratio of 3 to 2 water closets provided for women as the combined total of water closets and urinals provided for men, unless there are two or fewer such fixtures for men, in accordance with 553.141 Florida Statutes.”

    First time I saw this I had to stop reading and chuckle, I could not believe they actually put “potty” into the official language of the building code. As one can imagine it sticks out like a sore thumb from normal dry, tedious style.

  13. Bill,

    Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to do the same thing. I also don’t want to turn the light on because it hurts my eyes. If someone leaves the seat down, the result could also be entirely undesirable, and it’s possible that I too could be too sleepy to check that the seat is up…

    …where it’s supposed to be!

  14. P.S. Get a night light.

  15. Who’s gonna verify that the guy obeys the recording? Remember, it’s aimed at men, who are more likely to do something just because a sign or a recording told them NOT to.

    I read a newspaper story about a bathroom surveillance system that set off an alarm if the faucet and soap dispenser weren’t used after the toilet. It took me all of ten seconds to realize they could thwart it by just turning on the water and squirting soap on to the floor. Anyone who as a child wet their toothbrush and squeezed toothpaste down the drain could have figured that out.

    People don’t like to be nagged. The more the nannies try to micromanage people, the sooner they’ll figure out there’s really no way to verify compliance, and start breaking as many rules as they can out of spite.

  16. There’s a consumer report for a nifty device that lets females pee standing up (audio) proving that complications arise as soon as you involve an actual woman.

  17. Actually, the reason I get mad when the seat (and the lid) aren’t put back down after anyone, male or female, uses the toilet, is that I’ve always had animals, and they have a tendency to drink from/fall into/knock things into the bowl. Toilets are not generally germ-free, and if my cat knocks my toothbrush into it because some schmuck couldn’t be bothered to put the seat back down, I’m going to get pretty salty about it. If there are women in your life who prefer the lid up, they’re just ridiculous, but don’t go tarring all women with the crazy brush because of it.

    Besides which, it makes sense mathematically to have “seat down” as the default position, since men do sit on it at least some percentage of the time.

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