Gender Relations in Public Urination

Whenever you hear about a male publicly urinating, you never really think much about it. It’s very often that men urinate whenever/wherever they need too. In Jen Barr’s article, “ When the city is your urinal”, she discusses how public urination in India is a pretty hot topic.

Jen Barr, a biomedical anthropologist allows us to see how an action so small, holds so much meaning. Not only is urinating on walls, in the streets and wherever else unsanitary for obvious reason, but it forces gender relations to be seen. Jen Barr quotes Ruth Barcan in her article on male public restrooms in the Australia, “First and foremost, public toilets reaffirm sexual difference”, and continues to say, “so does public urination”. We live in a world where it is socially acceptable for men to urinate in other destinations other than the restroom, whereas women are only to urinate in a restroom. Not only does this act show that men are held to different expectations as women, but that men hold more power and claim in public spaces.

Men have been able to claim the streets and other public spaces as their own, and this is why they feel as though they can become “vulnerable” and expose their male parts to the public. Women would never be allowed to engage in such an act.

Gender violence in India has been a major issue that the country has faced. Ever since the 2012 gang rape of the student on a bus in Delhi, India, the country has seen major attention drawn to their gender relations. Delhi is known for poor treatment of women, street harassment, rape, and other gendered violence. Public urination has transformed from an act purely seen as gross and unsanitary to one that asserts male dominance over the female.