Report: Standing Up to Pee Gives Boys an Unfair Advantage in Physics

Urinals In Illuminated Public Restroom

Yes, you read the headline correctly. In the latest example of identity politics taken to its absurd end, three Australian college professors believe that "playful urination practices – from seeing how high you can pee to games such as Peeball (where men compete using their urine to destroy a ball placed in a urinal) – may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics."

The three professors didn't publish their thoughts on a satirical website like The Onion. Instead, they published on Tes, a website that provides "educational materials, jobs, news, and courses from the world's best community of teachers and school leaders." In the article, Anna Wilson, Kate Wilson, and David Low argue with a straight face that peeing standing up provides an advantage for boys over girls in learning physics.

Explaining what prompted their conclusion about the advantages peeing standing up gives boys, the professors write, "The gender gap in physics, and other related subjects including engineering, has long been a cause for concern. ... Therefore we have to ask: why don’t young women perform as well in physics?"

That seems like a semi-reasonable question, I think. Except Professors Wilson, Wilson, and Low live and ask questions in the land of identity politics.

After casually going through a list of possible explanations for why young women might not perform as well in physics as do young men — things like lack of female physics teachers, cultural pressure and expectations, and gender bias in the teaching materials — they conclude: "there may be another reason, too."

After noting that girls lag in areas of physics that deal with projectile motion, the article reveals: "Like many parents of small (and not-so-small) boys, two of us (KW and DL) have observed the great delight young males take in urination, a process by which they produce and direct a visible projectile arc."

Laying further groundwork for the assertion that standing up to pee aids in learning physics, the three detail the ways in which peeing standing up is a central yet fun part of the male life:

The fact that boys (and men) play with their ability to projectile pee is hardly contentious. Boys are trained to pee into toilet bowls with floating targets, a huge variety of which can be bought on Amazon; Amsterdam Airport Schiphol famously cleaned up its urinals by encouraging men to hit flies etched next to the drain; and Peeball is now a worldwide phenomenon.

Meanwhile, YouTube videos explain how to write your name in the snow with your pee; and the post-match celebration peeing antics of sportsmen are widely reported in the media. Indeed, the very notion of a pissing contest – furthest, highest, most precisely aimed – is a deeply embedded part of some cultures. Alexander Pope includes a pissing contest in his narrative poem, the Dunciad. Our own children describe a stepped wall behind their primary school that’s used by male pupils for competitive target practice. And a colleague who grew up in the Canadian arctic describes boys competing to see who could perfect the trajectory so that what ascended as liquid fell as ice crystals.

All this is experienced up to five times a day, so by 14, boys have had the opportunity to play with projectile motion around 10,000 times. And 14 is when many children meet formalised physics in the form of projectile motion and Newton’s equations of motion for the first time.