I close friend of mine recently called me to share what he thought was a fascinating sight. He was doing his usual Sunday activity, playing golf at his favourite club, when the sight of a small boy playing with some fish in a fishpond caught his attention. My friend had just finished a game of what he described as encouraging golf (whatever that means), and had decided to treat himself to a nice meal. He watched the boy as he waited for his meal to be served. Then to his amusement, the boy suddenly stood up, unzipped his pants, and aimed his pee right into the middle of the pond.
Everyone who saw him was amused but not embarrassed. The boy had a proud smile on his face. I am not sure whether the boy or my friend was happy with his aim, or with the fact that he was confident enough to pull such a performance while people watched, but my friend as excited when narrating the story. “The boy was just being a boy,” my friend explained with a proud grin on his face.
I have recently been accused of looking at everything through gender lenses, but I am now used to such accusations. I no longer defend myself, I choose embrace such remarks. I could not help comparing this story to that of the girl child. Would the sight of a small girl, lifting her dress, or removing her pants and squatting to shoot a stream of pee into a pool draw the same reaction. Would they have been amused, and simply say, “the girl is just being a girl”?
The girl is trained to conceal/hide even the most natural process like peeing. Maybe it’s because she is required to lift her dress and drop her pants, thereby exposing her body, thus society requires her to do so in private. While the boy only requires to unzip his pants, thereby exposing very little of his body, thus society allows him such performances. *
My point is; such acts are reflective of the socialisation processes in society. They encourage a feeling of conservativeness in girls, and exploration in boys. Do not get me wrong girls can be and are assertive, they can and are explorers; they can be and are seen as active participants in public spaces. However, what I am trying to acknowledge is that even with such natural performances, and from early ages, the destiny of the boy to “move out” to explore to challenge gravity is encouraged. That is why boys are known to have competitions of who can pee the furthest...who can defy gravity. The girls on the other hand or encouraged to respect limits, respect gravity. The achievements of women so far, has involved the demanding and continues to be the demanding of what was initially denied her, thus creating a new destiny for the girl. My worry is will it ever be as natural for the girl as it has always been for the boy? Or will the girl always have to fight against such natural processes? Will the girl one day be able to pull down her pants, balance herself and aim into the fishpond, without someone quickly rushing to admonish and cover her up for exposing herself and acting “indecently”?