While attending a music festival in Canberra recently, a woman was stunned to receive no support from security officers after she reported a man for deliberately urinating on her.
Yes, you read that correctly. Joana Perkins told ABC news, "We were enjoying ourselves [at Groovin the Moo] when I noticed a man come up behind me and I thought I sensed something that he was fiddling with his penis and unfortunately I started feeling urine running down my leg."
Perpetuating the notion that the world has different, more lax rules for boys and their behaviours is just another subtle way we instil a sense of entitlement in them.
When she realised what was happening, she says she turned and grabbed him by the arm and moved him away from her nine-year-old daughter. (Before anyone gets their knickers in a twist about children attending grown-up events, Groovin the Moo is an all-ages festival.) After being approached by security officers, the man was taken away. Perkins decided to leave as well, taking her daughter and teenage son with her. Passing the security guards on her way out, she noticed "they were laughing, patted the guy [who] was absolutely over-the-top inebriated or high and let him go off on his merry way."
After questioning the guards on their behaviour, she was told, "if you don't shut up, you'll be chucked out." Another guard told her it was her own fault for bringing her children to the event - logic which would ordinarily be flawed when talking to the victim of an assault, but that seems especially strange given it was Perkins and not her children who was PISSED ON by a disgusting bloke with boundary issues. Or is this guard trying to argue that, had her children not been around to witness it, Perkins would have been utterly fine with having someone degrade her like that?
This is obviously an extreme example of public urination and abuse, but it does speak to a much larger issue of how certain behaviours are considered natural and even reasonable. To be more specific, why does masculinity still provide an Access All Areas pass when it comes to feeling entitlement over public space? Like the friend who first alerted me to Joana Perkins' story, I am sick to death of walking down public streets and seeing men pissing against walls or in people's gardens or up against shop front windows. If you are a man with a penis, why do you feel so entitled to whip your dick out whenever you like just because you have to relieve yourself?
Yes, there are women who behave similarly - but not only is it much rarer, it's also frowned down upon (as most things to do with women's bodies are). And speaking of women's bodies, you'd need a convoy to carry all the double standards applied to men and women respectively about how we are and aren't allowed to present themselves. Public urination for men with penises is barely blinked at - after all, why should they have to inconvenience themselves by waiting or seeking out a public bathroom (as women are conditioned to) or even feeling some sense of humility or shame about exposing themselves in public?
Women, on the other hand, don't even need to drop their pants to mark their territory to be exposed to people's judgment and disgust. We're either showing too much of our bodies or not enough. We're too thin or too fat. We're too ugly or too vain. Expressing even a skerrick of love for ourselves is perceived as arrogance and 'having tickets'. When women are assaulted, it's our clothes and behaviour and bodies and attitudes that are responsible. We have to cover ourselves both figuratively and literally in order to be allowed into society's stalls, but men can casually pull their dicks out and piss on the ground in front of a thousands of people and it's no big deal.
This starts in childhood. We need to stop conditioning boys to think that the whole world is their toilet bowl. Yes, when children have to go, they have to go and very young kids take that opportunity where they can whether or not they have a ding or a dong. But there is a point at which little girls (and I would wager this includes trans girls too) are deliberately steered away from this behaviour and made urgently aware of the need to shield our bodies and disgusting habits from view. Teaching us this restraint hasn't resulted in seismic destruction of the world - so why is it considered so impossible to urge the same of boys? Perpetuating the notion that the world has different, more lax rules for boys and their behaviours is just another subtle way we instil a sense of entitlement in them.
On the surface, I understand that this will seem an extreme point of view to some people. But think about the kind of message it sends to children when one particular kind of body is suddenly instructed to hide itself from view while the other is given free reign to continue behaving as it always has. The exact message it sends is that the world is different for boys. It's less rigid and more free. It's designed with their particular needs in mind. It's theirs to have dominion over, while everyone else is issued only with a visitor's pass.
These small actions and learned behaviours do matter. If the thought of changing how we socialise boys in this way angers or frightens you, ask yourself why that is and what harm you're trying to avoid. Then confront the fact that this is already the way we socialise girls, and the silence on that has always been deafening.
And look, at least the streets will smell better.