I have a confession to make (thank goodness for anonymity): I refuse to flush the toilet. Not all the time, just when it isn’t necessary (you know the saying, let the yellow mellow). I just cannot justify using gallons of water everyday to hide the disturbing realities of pee from myself and others.

Disturbing realities they are indeed – I cannot tell you how many times I have watched women walk into a bathroom stall and walk out to visit a new one because there was some urine or a tissue in it. I imagine stalls being boycotted all day over such nonsense.

It certainly alarms me that we are so disconnected from the world and its flows to consciously dump freshwater down the drain with our waste when people are dying worldwide of water-borne illness and drought. What is equally beyond me is the strange revulsion modern people seem to have with their bodies and bodily processes. What is the thought process? Oh. Someone urinated here. In this toilet. 8 inches from my body. I better go to another stall. Or flush first (that is the most frustrating). There is no telling what could happen if I pee here.

Enough ranting, I have mostly gotten use to the absurdity of the whole thing. And the odd stigma I perceive – as if I don’t know to flush a toilet. Today, however, I found myself at a toilet that didn’t assume I actually wanted to flush, and was faced with a dilemma – to flush or not to flush?

Now, now, menstruation is a strange matter all together. Be aware, it isn’t just pee. Must I hide the evidence? Even if it is just a pinkish piece of toilet paper?

The irony, of course, is that this is all usually taking place in a woman’s restroom. I have this whole research scheme I have been meaning to set up – secret cameras, toilet with some blood in it (not on the seat, mind you), or even just urine,  just to see if anyone would go near it. I haven’t gotten around to it for a number of reasons…the dubious legal status of the whole endeavor… but mostly the foreseeable results.

How is it that women have become so alienated from their bodily processes? I have never heard anyone speak positively, or even neutrally about thier cycle, it always takes the form of “Ugghgod here it is. Right in time for the weekend” or “I am on my period, leave me alone or I will rage at you.” Perhaps I cannot expect celebration, but at least acceptance; I would suppose that such regularity would remove menstration from the health-deviant status it has gained, at least in the eyes of women experiencing it. It remains some vague, uncontrollable force that arrives when one want it the least, at least according to these attitudes.

I imagine a fair amount of this anxiety revolves around sex and telling the man in your life (which these normalizing discourses assume women have) about your temporary non-availability (?) to all things intimate. Is this where the shame lies? In failing to allure, to please? In failing to produce? In being dirty (as if sex is something clean)? In living an experience that deviates from his?

I don’t really know. I just come across this strange conflict as I must choose to flush or not to flush.