March 19, 2014

The news about toilets — reported by a woman at the statistically oriented website FiveThirtyEight.

Yesterday, I noted the "awful gender optics" at the website FiveThirtyEight.
They've got one female and 6 males... [and] the one woman they've got, Mona Chalabi, has as her first topic on her list of 3 topics, toilets. They have the woman doing the toilets!
But let's look at that article about toilets, "Toilet Seat Covers: To Use or Not to Use." As the headline indicates, Ms. Chalabi focuses on those paper shields that one sometimes encounters on toilets. The first few words suggest that the reader is presumed to be female: "When your date casually mentions his flossing routine...." Chalabi signals her cleanliness which extends even to the males she dates. They are the type whose small talk assures the female that they attend to the finer aspects of hygiene.

Anyway, as noted, the topic is toilet seat covers, and Chalabi — following the FiveThirtyEight approach to journalism — mines a paper published in Pediatrics for statistics that relate to why one might not want to sit directly on a toilet seat. There are 8 paragraphs of that, and then one last paragraph:
You can decide for yourself whether the covers are a low-cost way to minimize risk or an expensive waste of paper. But there is one other piece of research that might be relevant, especially if you’re a man. Between 2002 and 2010, doctors documented 8,959 incidents of “penile crush injury related to a toilet seat” in U.S. emergency rooms. We’re not sure how those happened — for example, whether most occurred sitting or standing — but we thought you should factor it into your decision about the seat covers.
Ha ha. That sounds like it's meant to be funny. It's only a penis, and what are these men, so inept that they can't deal with the up-and-down of a toilet seat? We’re not sure how those happened... 

If you go to the summary of the study, at Chalabi's link, you'll easily picture how it happened, and it's not cute or funny at all. There were 13,175 genitourinary injuries related to toilet seats in the U.S. in the years 2002–2010.
The most common mechanism involved crush from accidental fall of toilet seat, described in 9011 (68.4%, 95% CI 6907–11 115) cases.

Most crush injuries were isolated to the penis (98.1%). Of crush injuries, 81.7% occurred in children aged 2–3 years and 99.3% occurred in the home. Crush injuries increased over the period 2002–2010 (P = 0.017) by ≈100 per year, ending with an estimated 1707 (95% CI 1011–2402) by 2010.
The journal, remember, is Pediatrics. These are very little boys just learning to pee at the toilet, with their penis in a vulnerable spot, after they've swung the seat into an incompletely upright position. Once you visualize the problem, the design defect of the toilet seat is actually quite shocking. And yet here is Chalabi — supposedly into statistical revelations — transforming this information into something like a joking parting shot for the article. The reader is prompted to laugh at a grown man — perhaps a bad "date" — who can't even protect his own penis when he opts to pee standing up.

Thanks to Meade for reading the toilet article (which I had referred to in yesterday's post without reading). His comment on yesterday's post was:
[W]ho knew so many American males (1000+ per year) suffer the injury of penile crush caused, apparently, by plumbing design catering to womens' gender specific demands to have the toilet seat DOWN?

72 comments:

madAsHell said...

Toilet seat covers??....ya' mean ass gaskets??

Moose said...

this sounds a job for SULLYMAN! Guardian of penile integrity man-childs everywhere!

madAsHell said...

oh....I see.....This whole Nate Silver experiment is to drown you in unverified statistics. He knows that most his readers can't do math anyways, so fill their heads with meaningless numbers. They can then parrot the numbers back to the crowd at the art gallery sipping wine.

madAsHell said...

You could read the same article at the Onion, but Mr. Silver has removed the sense of parody.

EDH said...

Problem solved: the "whisper close" toilet seat.

The add touts "even a small child can use it with no pinched fingers" @38sec.

Amichel said...

Isn't there already a solution to this? What about the crescent shaped toilet seats with the gap in the front? Just leave them down the whole time, no need for this dangerous up and down business.

YoungHegelian said...

Unstated in those "penile crush" statistics are the men & boys who came to grief because some idiot woman decided to force a toilet seat cover onto the lid of the toilet these males used.

A toilet lid, fully pushed back against the tank, will almost always stay put. Not so if there is a big fuzzy toilet seat cover involved.

When visiting female-run households who have installed these abominations before the Lord, I've learned to master the esoteric art of holding the rim up with one leg while accomplishing my excretory mission. I'm just talented that way....

boldface said...

There is actually an easy design tweak that will keep the seat/lid from falling on the little guys' weiners -- have the lifted lid click into place when it's lifted. It would require just a slight adjustment of the hinge. Voila, 1000 pediatric penises a year saved.

Sorun said...

As mentioned, the fault lies with those fuzzy tank covers (ladies!). Otherwise, I've never seen a toilet seat fall on its own.

paul a'barge said...

Here's Mona Chalabi:
https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/425923582523219969/3Rw7bX5X.png

paul a'barge said...

Clickable

Unknown said...

I bought a slow closing tiolet seat a few years ago and wonder how we ever lived without it. No more slamming as it falls down. No more having to gently put it down. Just one touch, and whoooooooooshhhhhh...

Unknown said...

I bought a slow closing tiolet seat a few years ago and wonder how we ever lived without it. No more slamming as it falls down. No more having to gently put it down. Just one touch, and whoooooooooshhhhhh...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"the reader is presumed to be female"

Women writing for other women. First clue that it is going to be emotionally skewed garbage.

Agreed on those stupid fuzzy toilet seat covers. What is the purpose of those anyway? We have the open in the front (horseshoe shaped) seats in our house. Easier to keep clean.

kwenzel said...

This makes me wonder if the seats found in commercial bathrooms (with the aforementioned gap in the front) are used specifically to avoid liability for crushed pediatric penises.

chickenlittle said...

The proper feminist retort is to suggest potty training new generations of Sitzpinklers.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ kwenzel

The horseshoe seats are easier to keep clean.

Especially in women's bathrooms. Sitting down and urinating can cause splash back up onto the bottom side of the seat which would require constant cleaning. An oval toilet with a horseshoe seat prevents most of this work.

mccullough said...

Any guy who would date this lady deserves what he gets.

Larry Nelson said...

Why wouldn't women want to walk in and see a toilet seat already up?
It shows that the man who used it previously had the courtesy of raising it, rather than lazily playing thread the needle.
Maybe because it should be the man's responsibility to put his hand on the soiled and filthy seat to raise it, then lower it.
Why doesn't the NOW crowd think that to be chauvinistic?
Just sayin.

BTW: Coast Guard statistics on boat drownings show that over 90% of male boat drowning accidents are found with their fly open. (Of course 78.23% of all statistics are made up on the spot)

Alex said...

Ann - will you get off 538's bad optics already? This is embarrassing.

David-2 said...

mccullough @11:15 +1

But that +1 wasn't why I posted.

When I was 3, possibly 4, in the middle of the night I went to pee. And missed the toilet and instead nailed a very badly placed electrical socket.

I still remember the fireworks show! I wasn't shocked (electrically, I mean) or hurt ... just damn surprised!

(That incident was the final straw for my grandfather, who was living with us. He couldn't take the noise. He went to live with my aunt.)

Apparently I was a penile-crush victim-in-waiting. Who knows how I escaped that fate?

Anyway, is it time for an Althouse survey? Which is the most disasterous/ridiculous toilet accessory? a) Pink fuzzy toilet seat covers? b) Carved wooden toilet seats? c) Combination toilet brush/magazine rack for next to the toilet?

David-2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex said...

Honestly I'd prefer urinals if the immediate standing area wasn't already a pool of urine.

Yeah guys are gross.

David-2 said...

Alex @ 12:01: Yeah guys are gross.

The strangest and funniest yet most humilating email I ever got was while working at Microsoft about 15 years ago. A VP sent an email to the building he worked in (which I also worked in) complaining that the floor around the toilets in the men's restrooms were always ... wet! And the toilets were frequently unflushed. And since we were all adults in the building, couldn't we just take responsibility for using the restroom properly?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why wouldn't women want to walk in and see a toilet seat already up?

It isn't about seeing the toilet seat UP. It is about NOT seeing that the toilet seat is up.

Since all of female functions require sitting down, I can attest that there is not much worse than having to get up in the middle of the night with an emergency or "unscheduled" visit to the bathroom. Rushing in. NOT turning all of the lights on, in consideration of your partner who is snoring next to you, sitting down and finding out the seat is up and finding your ass dunked into a pool of ice cold water.

Wheeeee. If the seat is already down there isn't a midnight surprise.

rhhardin said...

Hovering is supposed to be the female alternative strategy, a girlfriend says.

I'd go with learning to pee standing up. Many websites probably now are devoted to it.

SJ said...

@Ann,

the general subject of penile crush injuries was probably raised by this woman because she thought it would inject some light-hearted humor. At least, it would normally be treated as humorous among college students.

She apparently didn't think too far about what the usual cause of such injuries was.

And she doesn't realize that it won't seem humorous to anyone who has ever taken care of a little boy.

I think this is an example of someone who is educated, but not aware of the experiences that many less-educated people around her have been through.

SJ said...

@David-2

Now, I find your story funny. Mainly because no one got hurt.

(And I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out why you didn't receive an electric shock... The path-of-least-resistance for electricity was from the +110V AC wire to the neutral wire, and not through the urine to you. Now, I'm no longer surprised that you weren't shocked.

Still not something I'd recommend to anyone.

I've heard stories from guys who were out on a relative's farm, and took a leak on the fence around the sheep paddock...only to discover that the fence was electric. Of course, such fences are designed to shock anyone/anything who touched it.)

Matthew Sablan said...

Ok, I'd be kind of ashamed if I tried to get cheap laughs out of children being horribly injured.

Archie said...

I'm still laughing! What is funnier than a young boy having his penis crushed? What a hoot. Thank you, thank you. Please write another piece on the equally hilarious subject of vaginal injuries in young girls. I'm giggling in anticipation.

damikesc said...

My youngest son had that injury.

Anybody who finds that funny should do the world a favor and swallow a bullet.

Sam L. said...

Another example of the War on Men (when children)!

Sam L. said...

I recall an accident report that stated the cause for the injury was "zipper".

When I got married, we agreed to always put down the toilet lid after use.

Skookum John said...

An adult man of normal stature standing up to urinate cannot get his willly crushed by a falling toilet seat. The geometry just doesn't work like that. Such injuries are confined to children and dwarfs hanging the male member over the brim to reach the toilet bowl.

However, there is another type of injury in this category that most men have suffered at one time or another, while answering the summons of another physiologic imperative in the seated position. When the large bolts that affix a seat to the porcelain are loose, the seat can slide around with slight movements of the unfortunate male victim, and trap a dangling penis or testicle. This delivers a very painful pinch. It has never drawn blood on me, but I can see how in the right set of circumstances it could deliver a very serious injury to a man's dangly bits.

RecChief said...

actually, I think she should write about something she should know about but may not: kitchens and making sammiches

Humperdink said...

I am amused by the "men leaving the toilet seat up" conundrum.

When the ladies approach the toilet and find the seat in the up position, they have to lower it which utilizes gravitational forces to their advantage. Very little effort required. They then do their duty and vacate.

Men, OTOH, have to fight gravity to raise the seat. Then, once the bladder has been emptied, have to perform an additional step to satisfy the ladies in their life - lowering seat and lid.

I suggest a compromise. After flushing, leave the darn seat alone. Each gender has to perform only one step, with minimum effort from the ladies.

SteveR said...

Ann - will you get off 538's bad optics already? This is embarrassing.

Pot meet kettle

eric said...

I have three young boys and thank god that so far, none of them have suffered a crushed penis.

ken in sc said...

Public urinals have a pool of urine under them because each guy tries to stand farther away than the previous guy because he does not want to stand in the pee. I have a urinal in my house because a guy should not have to use the ladies room in his own home. There is no pool of pee under it. In fact our cleaning lady says it is cleaner than most bathrooms she deals with.

Alex said...

ken - there is something about men and public urinal that brings out the animal within. Like dogs marking their territory?

CR said...

When I was in my teens, I'd awake in the night with a hard erection and having to pee. So I'd stumble into the bathroom and try to pee in the toilet, but it was hard because my penis was pointing up to the ceiling and the toilet was in the other direction. So I'd stand across on the other side of the bathroom so as to pee in a long arc, up and over and down into the toilet. Probably splattered a lot too. I needed a urinal, but having one in the home would be indelicate. That's when I learned that every bathroom in the home is a Ladies Room.

There are lots of ways being male has been to my advantage in life (the whole 'war on men' theme is silly), but there have been a few times when having a penis was a disadvantage, and one of them was those middle of the night times as a teen when I had to practically stand on my head to pee in my own bathroom because it wasn't designed with my anatomy in mind.

Alex said...

CR - all us guys can relate to that story. *fist bump*

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I guess we all have our bathroom burdens to bearn. Youse guys have to lift up the extremely heavy seat and put it back down again. Ours is finding our ass in a pool of cold water at 3am. Alas and alack.

"there is something about men and public urinal that brings out the animal within. Like dogs marking their territory?"

LOL. My husband (The Dumbplumber...his on- line name) will rountinely piss over the 80 foot embankment at the edge of our deck (when we don't have company of course). Not only does he say it marks our territory from the foxes it saves 1.6 gallons for each flush not taken. Saving us from the foxes and saving the planet by conserving water......Whataguy!!!

EMD said...

I am ashamed to say, that at home, I am Larry David. I sit down to pee.

At least I don't get any down my leg and I have the opportunity to read something brief.

Humperdink said...

@DBQ That's why men build backyard decks - it's a water saving technique.

Nothing better than getting up before sunrise, having 2 cups of coffee and subsequently heading to the rear deck to kill some weeds below.

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anthony said...

I'm just not getting it. Unless you're three feet tall or on your knees or spectacularly well endowed. . . .

Anthony said...

Night weeing for men:

-- Aim

-- Listen

-- Adjust yaw and pitch accordingly

Lionheart said...

The only problem with slow-closing toilet seats is when you are the visiting team and let go of the seat without thinking and it crashes down possibly cracking your host's toilet.

Kirk Parker said...

DBQ,

Based on your presentation here over the years, you're quite a ways toward the upper end of the Self Reliance bell curve. So what is wrong with the Each User Of The Toilet Should Place The Seat In Their Preferred Position Before Using rule??? ;-)

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Kirk

Nothing. As long as my husband doesn't object to my turning on every light on the way to the bathroom so that I can SEE if the seat is up or down. If he doesn't mind being woken up by blinding 100 watt light bulbs at 3 am instead of me trying to tippie toe in the dim light to the toilet it doesn't matter to me either. I try to be considerate.

:-)

Kirk Parker said...

DBQ,

Wait... you guys sleep in the bathroom? Your rooms have no doors???

I'm having trouble picturing how this works...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Large bedroom suite. To get to the bathroom, I have to go around the bed (I sleep on the far side from the bathroom), weave past the fireplace/television sitting area. The bathroom sink, vanity area and is open directly to the bedroom. It is like a nice furnished room with cabinetry and carpet. The bathroom then makes a ell to the walk in shower and the toilet is off of that in a cubicle. If the night light is on in the bedroom at, the floor area and in the hallway leading to the suite, I can generally wander into the vanity area without any additional light and just barely, by feel get to the bend to toilet. Like a blind person who can navigate a room without being able to see after a while you can get accustomed. Once you make the turn to the shower and toilet, there is very little light source. If I have to make sure that the seat is down, then all the lights come on in the vanity area with shines directly onto the bed.

During the day, I could care less about the seat being up or down. At night, it is just more convenient to be down.....no surprises.

Larry Nelson said...

I like to pee in my own backyard, it is liberating and saves water.
Us guys can write our name in the beach sand while urinating, once more very liberating.
I have seen many public urinals with a realistic looking fly imbedded into enamel, in a strategic location, of the urinal. No guy can resist aiming for it.
But ladies, don't let most of them convince you that they're straight shooters.

SJ said...

@eric,

as a note about statistics, the paper mentions ~9000 incidents in 8 years.

For each of the years mentioned, there are approximately 24 million children (ages 0-5) alive in the U.S.

(Source: non-Fatal-Injury website. The CDC uses age rage (0-4) for infants, intstead of (0-5). During the years 2002-2010, about 40000 infants suffered injury in an auto accident every year. (The actual numbers vary from ~55000 in 2002 to ~39000 in 2009, ticking up to ~41000 in 2010.)

The numbers for the entire range of years (2002-2010) are ~230 per 100,000 children per year.

So, I'm not surprised. Hospital-visits triggered by injuries to the genitals of little boys are much rarer than hospital visits triggered by car accidents.

I'm mildly surprised no one has yet mentioned that this is a shocking, but anomalously small, statistic.

acm said...

The easiest, most equitable solution to the question of whether a man sharing a bathroom should leave the seat up or not is this: Everyone must close the lid to the toilet after use, every time. That way, no matter what your gender or preferred potty position, you must lift something and put it back down every time. If you know, at 3 AM, that the toilet lid is down, you don't fall in. Both genders run some risk of sleepily/drunkenly forgetting to open the lid at all, but both genders are well-equipped to clean up the aftermath.

As for toilet crushing injuries, all I can think is "I'm glad I hadn't heard of that when potty training my boys". I probably would've been so frightened of that, that I would've just tried to teach them to pee sitting down. Then we would've all died from slip-and-fall accidents because those "pee-pee guards" on training pottys are a joke.

FullMoon said...

Leave the seat down at all times. If you piss on the seat, wipe it off with toilet paper before you flush.Jeez, whatsa matter with you guys?

Oh, do not let your wife know you are doing this. No sense getting herhysterical

eric said...

SJ,

"The numbers for the entire range of years (2002-2010) are ~230 per 100,000 children per year.

So, I'm not surprised. Hospital-visits triggered by injuries to the genitals of little boys are much rarer than hospital visits triggered by car accidents.

I'm mildly surprised no one has yet mentioned that this is a shocking, but anomalously small, statistic."

Yeah, I know, but what a horrific thing to have happen at such a young age. Yikes!

And we have two rules in my house.

1) When you're done, put the toilet seat back up.

2) Last woman out of bed makes the bed.

I have yet to tell my wife these rules though, I may find myself sleeping on the couch if I did.

Scott M said...

When we moved into the new house last fall, one of the pleasant little surprises we found was that all of the toilets in the house are equipped with "slow close" toilet lets. Some sort of friction assembly in the hinge prevents it from slamming. You just tilt it closed, walk away and ten seconds after you leave, it's closed.

I have a four-year-old boy and because of these lids, never considered "crushing" to be a possibility. On a related note, the slow-close thing has ruined me pretty much anywhere else. SLAM!

RobertL said...

Oy...

sojerofgod said...

@ SJ
"(And I spent 10 minutes trying to figure out why you didn't receive an electric shock... The path-of-least-resistance for electricity was from the +110V AC wire to the neutral wire, and not through the urine to you. Now, I'm no longer surprised that you weren't shocked.
"

Actually, that is not why he wasn't shocked. Water does not actually flow in a stream. The surface tension of the liquid is such that it actually forms discrete droplets that are invisible to the eye due to the "analog" nature of vision. (See: Visual persistence.) Only if the voltage had been high enough to arc from droplet to droplet would the electricity have found him. -or if the distance was very short, which would kind of blur the line between "accidentally" and "deliberately" if the boy chose the latter, well, lets just say its a weird way to light up your life...

autothreads said...

Men will sometimes sit on a cold porcelain rim in the middle of the night too. The difference is that men don't blame someone else for that happening.

If your lady complains that you don't lift the seat when you urinate, tell her she's lucky you don't piss in the sink.

Having had four cystoscopies/urethrotomies to deal with scar tissue caused by such an injury, it's not a laughing matter. When I was giving a new primary care physician my medical history and I told him how I was injured, he said, "Me too". It's a fairly common injury for little boys.

MathMom said...

Dust Bunny Queen -

I'm sorry that your bum gets dunked now and then. But may I recommend my solution to wandering around in the dark? Hang this little LED light from the drawer pull on your night stand and you will have light, plenty of it, and no one will be blinded by 100 watt bulbs (we will discuss your ecological profligacy at a different time - Al Gore is coming for people like you). Althouse will be thrilled if you buy the little light through her Amazon link too!

sojerofgod -

My hubby has (accidentally) peed on an electrical fence and says it's a religious experience. Maybe higher voltage?

harkin said...

Takes me back to my first days at Cal Poly and seeing handwritten on a shield dispenser: "FREE COWBOY HATS".

Ken Green said...

Someone seems to be conflating toilet seat shields - the paper gasket that you put on the toilet seat for hygienic reasons - with the fuzzy covers that go over the toilet seat cover. That's the solid part that goes down on top of the actual toilet seat. Those fuzzy things are a huge hazard to men. No matter what you do, if you lift the seat up, it'll eventually fall back down because the fuzzy cover both forces the seat cover away from the tank of the toilet, and adds weight to the cover. I'm guessing that women put those on their toilet seat covers so they can sit down on them (with comfort) while doing things like adjusting stockings, or whatever. But, it's also possible that it's just a passive-aggressive way of punishing men for urinating while standing up.

Ken Green said...

Someone seems to be conflating toilet seat shields - the paper gasket that you put on the toilet seat for hygienic reasons - with the fuzzy covers that go over the toilet seat cover. That's the solid part that goes down on top of the actual toilet seat. Those fuzzy things are a huge hazard to men. No matter what you do, if you lift the seat up, it'll eventually fall back down because the fuzzy cover both forces the seat cover away from the tank of the toilet, and adds weight to the cover. I'm guessing that women put those on their toilet seat covers so they can sit down on them (with comfort) while doing things like adjusting stockings, or whatever. But, it's also possible that it's just a passive-aggressive way of punishing men for urinating while standing up.

Unknown said...

DBQ

From your description of your bedroom setup, the solution is obvious. Your husband should pee in the conveniently located sink, reserving his use of the toilet for activities that require sitting.


Alternatively, you can put your hand on the toilet lid in the dark and if you feel that the toilet seat is also there, you can lower it.

Megaera said...

Skookum John: I had a call, when I was running rescue, that was dispatched very vaguely, turned out to involve an older gentleman who had been showering seated on a slatted plastic bench and, while soaping up, managed to get his hinder parts trapped between one of the slats and the frame, and he couldn't get himself out. His carer called 911, & let me & my partner figure it out on scene. Partner was a big ol' boy, & given the size of the shower, wouldn't fit under the bench so I was the one who had so slip underneath with a flashlight and screwdriver and detach the bench from the frame while partner & probie warmed up the patient, who was heading toward hypothermia. Got him slid out, no harm done except to his dignity, and went back to the station, wrote it up as Confined Space Entry, Extremity Entrapment.

Rockport Conservative said...

We had to buy a new toilet seat recently and surprise, surprise, it was made to go down very slowly. Both seat and lid are made this way. I guess enough injuries have happened that the designs have been changed.

sojerofgod said...

Mathmom:

Oh, yeah. Wall outlet = 110 volts. Hot wire fence = 10,000 volts a bit of a difference, to say the least. the difference is the amount of electricity in each case is also orders of magnitude different. On average a wall outlet will produce 15-20 amps -which can kill you pretty dead. an electric fence is more like 2 0r 3 thousandths of an amp, which won't.

pinkincide1 said...

I remember toilet seats whipping past my plumbing at alarming speed, and the leading edge can be sharp since it's just the underside that nobody usually sees. This tends to happen in bathrooms only women use that have thick seat covers which keep the seat in a barely balanced 90 degree position when up. I'm surprised that it's took so long for this issue to get someone attention. It's very scary when it happens.

MathMom said...

sojerofgod -

Thanks for the tutorial. Might explain my experience with an electrified fence. I was crawling under one through mud and standing water. Raised my head a little too high and wham! Found myself face down in the mud in a trice. Thought I had been kicked by a cow. Obviously lived to tell about it. Funny in retrospect, but not right then.