Male Entitlement and Public Urination

When we think of public urination the images that come to mind are ones of disgust, discomfort, and disdain. Public urination happens to be a current crisis in India and local authorities have employed the use of a “pissing tanker” in order to stop the frequency of urine-stained locations.  Local men are sprayed down by this imposing vehicle if they are caught with their fly down. Unfortunately, this has barely cut down the problem in some areas and in others it has proven ineffective. The reason this method proves futile is because it doesn’t target the reasons behind male public urination. Fortunately, medical anthropologist Jen Barr believes that the reason behind this epidemic lies within male privilege. She writes, “The lines of ownership become clear: public spaces are men’s spaces…” Since men are in a position of power in India, the public space becomes their space; a space where they are entitled to relieve themselves whenever and wherever they want. This quickly becomes a gender issue when women are subjected to viewing unwanted, exposed penises. Like catcalling, and sexual harassment, public urination is another way of men asserting dominance over women by taking their public space and comfort away from them. There is a silver lining in discovering the truth behind public urination though. Instead of ineffective water hosing, we now that targeting the masculinity and entitlement of men we now have the means to stop it. Perhaps posters discouraging peeing in public because it is ‘unmanly’ or advertisements specifically geared towards men will bring an end to the urine soaked streets.

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