I knew that even if I so much as exhaled, I was sure to pee my pants. In the long last hour that my male colleague had taken to sit in our joint office with our joint bathroom, I had challenged my bladder yet again.
I waited with baited breath and an ever-expanding bladder for him to step out for just a minute. That’s all the time I needed. My sisters know! We have been told to take care of bodily functions with an agility and an embarrassment that is almost poetic.
He typed away on his desktop while I longed to get up and just be a menace for a day. I wanted to brazenly open the door to the bathroom, get in there, tinkle as loudly as any woman has in the history of women and renounce this culture of silent suffering.
Suddenly he got up and stretched. This is another thing I envy him so much. He can stretch, yawn, fart and even make crude jokes at my expense while I hope for myself to not make a fool of me. The privilege that he enjoys isn’t my fault. But it is my problem.
He stretched some more and then grabbed his crotch. Wondering what he was up to, I watched, mesmerized as he made a beeline to the bathroom, the very bathroom that I had been eyeing for over an hour as a sailor eyes an island, and entered it.
What followed was a noisy relief of his excreta, something so repugnant and awe-inspiring for a woman like me that when I’ll write tales of my existential crisis this will likely go to a coveted place on that list.
Come to think of it, why would he be embarrassed the way I have been of my body? His member has been depicted as strong. My urethra is so closely located to the popular dirtiest part of my body that my internalized misogyny is well-founded in years of self-hate.
This blog isn’t to praise the anatomy of the human body. Or to degrade it. This blog is just a woman’s musings on how the world is a completely different place for him and I. Even though we work at the same office and take home the same paycheck. When people say gender pay gap shouldn’t exist, I want to say that I don’t mind taking home a few dollars less than him but can I please have my bathroom?
Feminism is a unique thing in how it is always battling with the intersectionality of each person who wants to take refuge in it. Feminism can’t answer all the questions. At least not the standard edition feminism! Not white feminism. My brown feminism is layered with such different problems that identifying with popular and obvious problems has been hard.
I was probably raised like a child who knows that they should pee and poop as they like. Along the way, I was introduced to the poop jokes. Initially I laughed and later I internalized them. Like most comedy, most bathroom jokes are around women.
Then someone thrust a brown bag in my hands. My period was shameful because my vagina has traditionally been so dirty. It can cause moral harm to me and can cause moral harm to men too actually. I owned the brown bag a lot faster than my vagina. Wonder why!
He came out and sat down like nothing happened. Like I just didn’t share an intimate moment with him where he didn’t care that I could hear him passing gas and pulling the toilet paper and flushing the contents of his waste. He smiled at me and I wondered if he’d ever experience the colossal upheaval of his integrity as a person that I had experienced in the last ten minutes of him being in the bathroom. I was initially ashamed of having any bladder function at all, let alone my bowel functions. If there’s anything dirtier than pee, it’s poop. Why couldn’t I be sent to this earth without all these shenanigans? Why couldn’t I always smell of jasmine and roses?
I shifted uncomfortably. Since giving birth to my third, my bladder has become a nuisance. It insists I go as soon as it signals. I usually go in my pants anyway, given I can’t hold my pee any better than any opinion I’ve ever had. There are panty-liners for women like me. There are sling procedures also. All attempts to somehow make me okay with my body.
That’s how capitalism works. First it makes you hate your body. Then sells something to do the exact opposite. I’m tired!
I suddenly realize that if I don’t go now I might not be able to go for another hour. A colleague of mine starts his shift late and soon he’d be in the office too. What’s worse than one man listening to my business? Two men!
“The printer is out”, he pulls a face. I look at him sympathetically.
“Why don’t you go to the fourth floor? The printers there are all new”, I suggest.
He picks up his phone and makes it to the door. I have about ten minutes of alone time. Heck! I can even poop. This is what I’ve been raised to do. Rush through moments of peace. Live in misery. Work my way up the ladder even though I fear heights. Wear a panty-liner and when the leakage gets really bad, I can see a urologist.
I dash to the bathroom. He returns in seven minutes. I didn’t get the ten I had counted on but he found me where I was when he had left me. In the business of internalized misogyny, I am always a step ahead of the patriarchy. I knew he could be back sooner than ten minutes.
“How can you sit so serenely in these chairs?” He commented, while shifting his bottom on his chair a few times to get comfortable, “I hate them. Aren’t you in pain?”
I smile my most beatific smile. “I’m in pain, dear man!” I say silently, “But this chair is heaven compared to the pain that my own existence brings to me”.