Being Told How To Pee

Being Told How to Pee

June 16, 2012

Allan Stevo

Now, don’t be surprised about this if it happens on a visit to a Slovak house.  I’m not saying it happens often, but I’m saying I’ve heard enough people talk about it, so that I know it happens.

When a person pees standing up, there will inevitably be some ricocheting.  Anyone who has peed standing up has probably noticed that this occurs.

In Slovakia, if you are a man visiting a Slovak home and find yourself needing to use the washroom, the homemaker may show you to the washroom and tell you to pee sitting down.  You will either agree, since you are a guest, or you may possibly be the brash type and disagree with the request and ask your host why she would ask you to do that.

The response, if delivered in English or in Slovak will likely not be 100% clear (like many pithy statements made in the Slovak language and heard through the ears of a non-native speaker and like some pithy statements made in the English language by a non-native speaker and heard through the ears of a native speaker – pithy statements don’t always translate well).  It will probably go something like this “When you sit, everything goes in the toilet.”  I’ve heard some disagreement on what this statement really means.  I’ve heard it mentioned for 1. reasons of friendly concern and 2. for hygiene purposes.

The “reasons of friendly concern theory” goes something like this – when a human being is in the seated position, he is more able to empty the contents of the bladder.  Therefore, you will more quickly rid your body of more waste, being healthier, lighter, and less likely to need the bathroom again any time soon.

The “reasons of hygiene theory” goes like this –  “I clean my toilet often enough and am sick of how dirty it gets.  The men in this house sit because I hate cleaning dirty toilets and floors.  Do not stand at that toilet and soil my immaculate bathroom.  Sit on that toilet.  Do not stand.  Got it?”

I think the later is the more likely scenario, but I’ve heard compelling arguments for the former.  So, the inevitable question:

Would anyone out there like to share their experience when they were on a visit with a Slovak family and were instructed to sit rather than stand?  Do you have any further insight you might be able to share?  If you are a male Slovak, have you ever been instructed to sit while using the toilet?  Believe me, I am prepared to hear from readers “You idiot, this does not happen in Slovakia,” so feel free to state exactly that if you wish, but I have heard this enough times from enough people who have experienced this over the course of decades of travel that I know with certainty that it happens.  Perhaps a few readers might be able to shed light on this for me.

Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at  He is from Chicago and spends most of his time travelling Europe and writing.  You can find more of his writing at  If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email.  You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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  • You idiot, this does not happen ONLY in Slovakia 😉

    Editor’s Note: Zuzka is a friend. Affectionately referring to a friend as an idiot is appropriate among some in Slovak culture.

  • Zuzka,

    It sounds like you have experience with this. Tell me more about where you have seen this happen.

    Thank you.


  • Nah, never actually heard that at a visit. But then I do actually sit down in private settings where the toilet seat is reasonably likely to be clean of whatever ends up on a public toilet seat. It has all these practical benefits, including the hygiene.

    My manliness isn’t quite fragile enough to worry about the signalling effects of sitting down.

    I would have never interpreted the request in the first sense. However, due to the mechanics of peeing standing up, the last drop always ends up in the pants, and it is not necessarily the case when sitting down. So maybe that’s what’s meant.

  • Tomas,
    You make a good point in favor of the “hygiene theory.” Thank you for sharing your opinion on this matter.

  • Michal Kocmanik

    Jun 16th, 2012

    I am a male Slovak but I was never told how to pee, only told some basics hygiene facts. Is normal when you have your home bathroom you clean it, and you feel is clean for you to visit at any time and don’t think about what there might be left one the toilet seat from previous visitors when you sit on it. Not like on public toilets where you most of the time have to spent little time by cleaning it or covering it with toilet paper to be able to sit on it. And you don’t expect the same on your privat toilet. You always know that it is clean because you or your wife etc clean it all the time. Ad when you have visitors which does not have basic hygienic manners like even when you while standing you clean it after your self it can make you angry and discusting cleaning that after your gests leave. And that is probably the only reason why people may tell you how to pee in their house, cause it wholud be rude to tell them look clen your mess when you are done,it would look like you expext they don’t have hygienic manners, which unfortunately many especially man’s has. That’s why is easier to show them how to pee instead of cleaning their mess or telling them hygienic basic and make them look stupid. I never asked anybody to clean the toilet or showing them how to pee because it should be the basic social skill they should have already, but I would like to go to my bathroom and sit on my toilet seat.without even looking wether is clean or not which is not possible when you have guests which doesn’t have this basic hygienic manners. The thing is toileteeing while standing-you nearly always end up with some drops ended wheey shoul not so that’s why I.prefer swhen pee instead of cleaning after myself, or after anybody. On public toilets I’m using pisoars which were made for that purpose and are aerodynamicly shaped to handle the flow, but in my or ony other houses I sit which is both more comfortable and hygienic. So I don’t think it is only Slovak thing that we do tell how to pee, I think it is more that we are awere of people with no or very basic hygienic manners and instead of finding our toilet dirty you tell your visitors how to use it spotlesly. After all toilet seat is one of few places where you put parts of your naked body which are very private to you and you would not like to experience somebodys body liquids or even worse on your skinn especially on those parts of your body, why many people never sit on public toilet seat. Where your home is your castle and you keep it in spotles and clean condition for you to enjoy the moment at the bathroom rather than “surviving” experience with most public toilets. So even I never heard about anybody being told how to pee, I fully understand why people may tell you something like that

  • Michal,
    Thank you for the very in depth comment. Quite informative and entertaining.

  • This is news to me. I left the former Czechoslovakia in 1977 and back then the only instruction boys were given was to lift the toilet seat prior to use. I have heard though that in Germany, the manner in which a guy urinates measures his manliness. The whipped ones sit, the real men stand. Most sit down.

  • Martin,
    Very interesting about how a man urinates in Germany and how manly he is. Thank you for pointing this out. Also, a well timed anti-German barb – “Most sit down.” Funny. Thank you for writing.

  • Never happened to me during 27 years in Slovakia. Sorry, while your other blogs were hits, this one is “out of toilet” :-)

  • Mik,
    Thanks for your note and for your witty out of the toilet comment. While I know that this is has not been experienced by most people, I think there must be some folks out there who can help shed light on this practice. Thanks for writing.

  • jim stasheff

    Jun 16th, 2012

    Please explain the barbed wire in the picture.

  • Jim,
    I have no idea why they bought a plastic toilet seat with barbed wire embedded in it. Scroll over the photo and that the photo was taken incognito on a visit to a village. It was an unusual picture of a Central European toilet that I had, so I put it up, figuring that it fit the topic. What did you think it could mean?

  • My 1st trip to Slovakia is next year. Now I’m going to be thinking about this the whole time. Thanks a lot :-)

  • Stephen,
    No need to worry about this. I seldom hear about this happening. The fact that I have heard about it though from numerous people makes me want to know more. Thank you for writing.

  • This is the first time I have ever heard of it. Either all your friends visit same household, or I don’t know where you came up with this idea. Some OCD madwoman at work.

  • Tatiana,
    I wondered the same – maybe this happened only at one household, and then I started to come across more stories about this – the stories that I have heard range from Eastern to Western Slovakia and the stories span about 40 years. Maybe it was some OCD mad woman from about 80 years ago who traveled Slovakia.
    Thank you for the comment.

  • Well, this did pique my interest, since I do work in healthcare. :-)
    I think the only validity to this argument is the cleanliness of the bathroom, not being more beneficial to one’s overall health. As one who has cleaned the bathroom many times, I concur!!

  • Mike Belan

    Jun 17th, 2012

    If you had a visitor who on a previous visit used the washroom and left it in a rather leaky mess. I know that on their next visit, I would not hesitate to use the instruction method to get the idea across. Hence this person would either laugh it off and use the method, or be embarrised and wait until he is home. Any way you call it, it works.

  • Oooh yeah, this is happenning in Slovak households, does nor matter what part of the world you live with well-mannered Slovak girl. When I was a child, I was told my mom to lift the toilet seat before I pee and return it to its initial position, not to sit. But when I studied in Germany and shared an apartment with 3 Slovak girls, I was told to sit at the very beginning, even though I always lifted and returned the seat in its initial position and left the toilet clean. Once they spent an evening with this topic..:)) Not telling you this is a strict habit in Slovakia, but it occurs in many households.

  • I would say the toilets are taller, probably in all of the EU. and as a man if your not concious of it at first it’s a hazzard for mess and with the woman who are eager to stand before the show is over=) But I only heard the warning as a child. For all those reasons mentioned especialy the don’t mess up my floor type thing lol Wouls say that if an adult was told that, it’s from the familys who have grown kids living with them still and haven’t got out of the habit of saying many things like you would a child. There kids are probably children still lol

  • Despite living all my life in Slovakia, I don´t know anyone who would ask this nor have I heard anything about it until reading this article, so I´m surprised to hear about this. The woman in the charge of the households asking the men and boys raise the “záchodová doska” (how do you say that in English? toilet board?) before peeing is a different story, but even that concerns primarily the men of the household and not the guests.

  • Zuzka Zbinova

    Jun 19th, 2012

    Hi, I am a Slovak woman and I have never asked any men to sit while peeing (not even my son who almost always makes my toilet dirty…anyway,he has to clean it by himself to learn not to do it any more and learn how to do it properly :-) but.. I know 2 women who do it, they really ask visitors to pee sitting. For me it is unpolite.

  • the seat brotha=) and ues the woman were in charge of our peeing protocals

  • Think in the states we called it a doughnut lol

  • David Fischer

    Jun 20th, 2012

    Since I was raised by 5 women I have always sat to pee unless it was a public toilet. I just returned from a trip to Germany and France, and for the first time saw a urinal in a private home for the men of the house. So if you encounter a urinal in a home you will not be instructed how to pee as it will be obvious. Why don’t American homes have small urinals?

  • The following comments were also left on my Facebook page:

    A comment from an American pointing out this tendency in Holland:

    ” Funny, I thought that was a Dutch thing. I’ve never heard it in Slovakia though. Personally, I always prefer a tree…”

    Three Slovak males commenting that they’d never heard of this.

    And a Pakistani Muslim male pointing out:

    “i actually thought this was only a muslim thing – the whole sitting down for men was always recommended for hygiene and modesty reasons. now i suspect this might be a more widespread traditional practice across the world.”

    Others seem to have had experience with this.

  • Hi :)

    Well I personally never heard of this, but as some already said, a lot of men sit down in private because it is comfortable. Toilet is some kind of short relax time and some people read some short articles in newspapers during this time. But more important – you really do not have to clean mess you would make when you stay, because especially at the end of whole peeing procedure there is more likely to happen that one or two drops go outside of toilet.

    Of course this is something else on public toilets, where you sit down only when you have to (big job). This is because it seems like people in public loose all their hygienic habits and after leaving toilet they let it in total mess and they do not care, because it is not private. If all people would consider public toilets like their own life would be much more nicer 😀 😀 😀

  • I have lived most of my first 20 years of life in Slovakia. My (Slovakian) wife is from a family where the men pee sitting down. It’s for hygienic reasons, they say. I blatantly refuse to comply with their request to pee sitting down. I can’t. My body is used to go number two when seated. In our household this strange rule is not in place, of course. I do remember though that when she first told me about this weird rule in their household, I could not believe it and that I have certainly never heard of such thing in my life before. I have certainly never heard of any cases where a guest would be shown to the bathroom and instructed to pee sitting down.

  • After all toilet seat is one of few places where you put parts of your naked body which are rather private to you and you wouldnt like to savvy somebodys body liquids or even worse on your skinn particularly on those parts of your body, why many people never sit on public toilet seat.

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