When my family first moved to the U.S. from Benin, we lived in an apartment complex that had a playground. At first I didn’t want to go play on the playground because I assumed it was for white children only and even though I had never lived in forced segregation I picked up on the energy of these United States. When he found out why I was staying indoors, my dad vehemently assured me that I could play and be anywhere I wanted to in the neighborhood. After that conversation I felt encouraged and brave enough to play and I made a friend. I don’t remember her name anymore but she was blonde and her father was a police officer.
One day we were playing outside and I had to pee, I casually asked her to be my look-out as I peed in the bushes, she was confused so I explained in as clear English as I could what I needed, I assumed the confusion was due to my English, I didn’t realize that at that young age, as an African girl I had a healthier sense of peedom than this young blonde American girl.
Peedom is the knowing that bodily functions are human and natural. Peedom is the liberated feeling of knowing it is not a crime to pee in public if you do it discreetly, the discretion is for your own comfort. This may sound funny to some but honestly it is an issue that has deep roots in oppression, exclusion and supremacy. It is one of the reasons why I say African countries are a more humane than these United States and African people know and practice more personal freedom than Americans.
Most of us think of freedom as the absence of subjection to foreign domination or dictatorial government, African countries have less of those freedoms because of colonization, but freedom is also the power and right to be human, to listen to your body; the power or right to act, or think as one wants or needs without hindrance or restraint, this kind of freedom is practiced more by Africans in Africa than any person in the United States.
There are those who will automatically go to the extreme, “we can’t have people peeing and shitting everywhere” of course that is not what I am saying or suggesting, and that kind of thinking is a direct result of western conditioning to see the human body AND Africans as unclean, so, no, this is not an issue of civilized vs uncivilized. Though I would say there are right and wrong ways to pee outside, like it’s just rude to pee on the walls of people’s houses or stores.
The times that I’ve seen Americans feel free to pee outside is either in a drunken state in the wee hours of the morning or on long road trips. Oh but wait there is another time that American’s feel free to pee outside and that is when they own or rent land vast enough for their family to feel comfortable peeing outside, it is considered a privilege and luxury.
Back to the story of my friend and I, contrary to what we were both taught in school and by society, I was more free than she was but I never did that with her again. What are your thoughts on the peedom? Could the lack of peedom be the reason why paruresis, also known as shy bladder syndrome, is one of the most common types social phobias in the U.S.? And why pee-ing is so pornified? (R Kelly is not alone.)
Check out my IG post (@disskoolin_doula) about why having languages with non-gendered pronouns creates a more humane and inclusive bathroom culture that is less divisive among sexes and body types.
Buy a Decolonize Your Activism shirt to push inclusive activism and to support the Wise African Women Birth Education Retreat.