Those who have been to Barcelona on New Year’s Eve could not help but pay attention to the figurines of kaganers sold in every souvenir shop – little men squatting without trousers and peeing in great need (in fact, the word caganer is translated as “pooping”). For tourists from Russia, they evoke mixed feelings – from the feeling of a vulgar joke to disgust; only after living in Catalonia for several years, I thought that now I perceive these toys completely calmly. My son, when he grows up, perhaps it will be easier to surprise that Santa Claus has a granddaughter than pooping Christmas characters. Let’s see why the toilet topic is so strongly stigmatized in the Russian-speaking space and isn’t it time to start treating it more simply.
Of course, the Mediterranean coast is a powerful agricultural area and the local culture is centered around food and table. And this means that around everything that happens to food in the body (people and animals), and what it turns into. After all, the amount of rainfall and the fertility of the local soil depend – albeit to a lesser extent now than before – the income of many people, and what fertile soil can do without fertilization in the form of excrement? Daria Gavrilova, journalist, guide in Barcelona, author of the blog ” Balalaika almost a guitar ” about Barcelona and Spain and the feminist channel ” Patriarchy, burn “, says that modern kaganers are “descendants” of a figurine of a simple peasant, which the Catalans put in a toy for Christmas nativity scene to invoke a fertile year. Nowadays, new kaganers appear on store shelves in the images of politicians (this year Donald Trump and Carles Puigdemont are in the lead), actors and football players, and schoolchildren are taken to the theater to see the play Three Little Pigs Crumbled with Fear. Another important local Christmas character is the kagatyo, a log that children pound with sticks while singing a holiday song: “Log, log, cocoa with almonds, candy and gifts!”
Out of habit, it is also surprising that people here quite calmly say “I went to the toilet” without using euphemisms like “powder my nose” – and at first even this seems strange, because there are completely neutral options like “I’ll be right back” or “ I’ll go wash my hands. ” It turns out that for the people living here, the message about going to the toilet is such a neutral option, no worse than others: everyone goes to the toilet and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Diarrhea as a cause of a short-term sick leave is no different from a cold, and you can talk about it out loud in the same way. Of course, this is not a topic for an exciting conversation at dinner, but there is nothing to hide here either – we calmly mention snot with a cold. Daria Gavrilova notes that although no one has canceled the questions of appropriateness and inappropriateness, trying to pretend that physiological processes do not concern you, or even completely ashamed of them, is a direct path to neuroses. All people eat and go to the toilet, women have menstruation, and bad food can vomit anyone. The ability to discuss such processes is important – for example, with a calm attitude towards physiology, it is easier to detect a serious illness earlier.
For a child, everything in this world is new and amazing. The fact that food enters the body through a hole in the head and exits through the ass is about equally important and interesting processes for it.
According to psychotherapist Yekaterina Sigitova , the topic of going to the toilet is embarrassing for most people of various cultures, and some people are ashamed even to be seen on the way to or from the toilet. The problem has a long history, and the expression “princesses do not poop” for many years. More often it is women who suffer from this stigma, because in the world of objectification, they are prescribed to smell, delight the eyes and have absolutely no visible physiology. But, as the specialist notes, men also get it: how can a strong and courageous macho admit that he ate something wrong and he has diarrhea? As a result, our perfectionist world creates a very narrow framework for living people who sweat, poop and piss.
It’s scary to think how many first dates fell through due to the fact that a person urgently needed to go to the toilet, and he was ashamed to admit it. Sigitova notes that although it is not worth discussing this topic without a reason – the interlocutor will not understand, but if there is some problem related to the toilet, and it interferes with you attending a date or meeting, you need to report it directly and openly. First, the more you hide at the beginning of a relationship, the less your potential partner has contact with your true identity – he may eventually find himself in a relationship with a false, non-existent version of you. Secondly, adequate people, even with a cultural background in the form of toilet shaming, are able to react normally to such news and even offer help. If the reaction is clearly strange and includes attempts to shame you, it is quite possible that the person in the future will not be able to stay close when the physiological manifestations of your body, for some reason, will not suit him.
The attitude to the toilet as a topic that is not talked about and which should be shy is laid in childhood – at the same time when parents are embarrassed to call their genitals by their proper names. And although illiteracy in this regard leads to an increased risk of sexual violence, the evidence that sex education is necessary is not recognized by everyone. The same is true with issues related to the toilet and intestines: in many families they are not discussed at all, forming an attitude as to something shameful. Yes, young children have an interest in their own bowel movements, which seems excessive to adults – but for a child, everything in this world is new and amazing. The fact that food enters the body through a hole in the head and exits through the bottom is about equally important and interesting processes for it. Of course, you need to teach children hygiene skills, and then discuss the relevance of a particular topic in a conversation, but you should not teach them to be ashamed of your body – this does not bring good results.
While suitable books are printed in Europe and America to discuss these delicate topics with children, the Russian book publishing business is afraid of them. According to Galina Bocharova, an employee of the Samokat publishing house and the author of the telegram channel What is Freken Books Thinking About? », People see something terrible in discussing the toilet topic with children. When in 2011 the publishing house “Melik-Pashayev” published the classic already in Europe book “The Little Mole Who Wanted to Know Who Made It on His Head”, it simply blew up the market. You can still read the indignant reviews of parents that the book was written by a mentally ill person (as if mentally healthy people do not poop) and that it is quite natural to write such a book only for Germans (Russians do not poop either). In one of the reviews, the study of the topic is even compared with causing harm: “And if children like to look at what, does this mean that an adult should invite him to go and see them? Children also love to climb on roofs, jump from swings and throw bags of water out of windows. “
It’s time to start treating going to the toilet more calmly – as well as about menstruation, under each of our materials about which the comment “you still write about poop” is sure to appear .
According to Bocharova, after the law “On the Protection of Children from Harmful Information” was issued, publishers are trying to be very careful with the content and illustrations – and they can be understood, because no one wants a scandal. Nevertheless, it is necessary to discuss with children all the topics traditionally taboo in our country: the toilet, and the death of relatives, and divorce, and changes in the growing body, and sex. A child grows up and asks a lot of questions, and you need to be able to answer them with dignity and honesty, and children’s books are an excellent assistant in such conversations. It is much easier for a parent to discuss a complex topic through a book.
The children’s poet Masha Rupasova on her Facebook said that when the first book was published, all the poems were included in it, except for one – about poop: “And it turns out in our children’s literature that there is a phenomenon of great importance – but there are no poems about it. Rather, I have it – but how to print it is not clear. ” According to her, being informed is always better than keeping silent, but each age needs its own tone. At the age of two, there is no shame in the toilet theme, sheer acceptance and respect, because two-year-olds are great both for themselves and for any product of their labor. Six or seven year olds no longer need romance, but a delicate scientific approach to talking about the body, and especially about the toilet. Rupasova says that in Canada, where she lives, classes devoted to the human body (Body Science) begin at school at the age of six – and this is more than awareness and a vocabulary for talking about her body. It also means safety, health, and an increase in life expectancy. In the Russian-speaking environment, families lack literacy in matters of human placement, which, of course, does not contribute to the health of children or parents.
Literacy is also the ability to talk about your body, call its parts and processes by their proper names and understand when it is time to ask for help. Chronic constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, traces of blood in the stool are reasons to go to the doctor without hesitation. Unfortunately, if you pretend that the intestine does not exist for a long time, this will not save it from diseases – and it is better to discuss any problems with your doctor out loud in a timely manner than to learn about intestinal cancer in the terminal stage. Enlightenment in this delicate matter is not an easy task, but it can also be dealt with ingeniously; for example, in the famous video about how to sit on the toilet properly, the main character is a unicorn pooping with rainbow ice cream. In the end, absolutely all people go to the toilet, and it’s time to start treating this fact more calmly – as well as to menstruation, under each of our materials about which the comment “you write about poop” is sure to appear.