This January, a court in Düsseldorf, Germany ruled that men have the right to pee standing up. The relevant case was a minor property dispute about whether a landlord should be able to keep his renter’s security deposit over piss stains on his marble bathroom floor. But the fact that the landlord appeared to view his tenant’s standing urination as a barbaric habit, and the fact that the judge referred to the now-protected position as a formerly dominant custom was telling.
Over the past decade, Germany and a number of other countries have increasingly moved toward a culture of reclining relief. Debates have raged over the merits of the practice, with arguments made on everything from feminist to public health grounds. Yet for all the bombast and backlash around this massive transition, the origins of the modern movement and the prior history of standing male urination remain fairly opaque to almost everyone.
We do know that, as far back as 2004, at least one German company was producing something called the ” WC Ghost,” a toilet clip-on that vocally admonished men for raising the toilet seat and encouraged them to sit. That year, the Ghost started to show up in international grocery store chains as well. By 2006, a story popped up in Norway, in which a primary school teacher requested that parents start training their children to pee in a civilized, seated manner.