Etiquette, Shame and The Huffington Post
I was a guest on HuffPost Live this week in a segment purporting to discuss the ins and out of workplace bathroom etiquette. We’ve been here before, but it seems like bathroom etiquette at work is the hot topic that just won’t go away.
It was one of those slightly awkward four-way video chats but overall I thought the host did a good job of getting the different guests involved – myself, Michael Podell and Jill Jacinto. That said, it turns out that the discussion had absolutely nothing to do with etiquette – it was all about shame. It seemed like nobody involved could get over the fact that taking a big poop at work was anything other than an act to be downplayed, concealed, or outright avoided. Techniques to avoid smells, avoid noises and avoid letting your coworkers know what you were up to were all that was discussed.
Which is fine. I get that not everybody is completely comfortable with taking a massive poop at work. I get that not everybody wants to come out of the stall after a noisy session to be confronted with their boss. But let’s get one thing clear right now: this has nothing to do with etiquette and everything to do with shame. Taking poops is exactly what the bathroom is designed for. I don’t care how loud or stinky your poop is, there is nothing about taking that poop that makes it bad etiquette. Poop all you want in the bathroom, that is the whole point of that room and pooping is a perfectly natural bodily function.
Now I’m not advocating that you get in the stall and start grunting and groaning – that’s something that is completely in your control to avoid doing, and excessive grunting is certainly bad etiquette. But natural poop noises and smells are just part of life.