decades old mystery

There’s something that I’ve puzzled over for more than 50 years. That is, why does the open-face toilet seat even exist? Think about it. If it were a matter of gender differences, it would be found predominately in one gender’s public restrooms and not in the other. But it is not, so that’s not the reason. If it were left to market forces, it would have no market, as virtually nobody puts them in their private homes. It’s instead found only in commercial applications. Yet there’s virtually no price difference between it and the full-circle seat. So why does it even exist, if it’s universally despised by everybody, and there’s no economic benefit to be had? Yet it does, and I for one am annoyed every time I am faced with using a toilet with that stupid open-face seat. Am I alone in my dislike of this abomination?

On the one hand, I don’t know the reason why there are two kinds. On the other hand, I don’t have any preference for either, so I don’t care.

Can you explain what your objections are to the open-in-front kind?

My theory is that the “open-face” seat is used because some men using public toilets feel liberated by the fact that they don’t have to clean the seat, and they don’t have a wife or mother who will nag them with “Why don’t you pull up the toilet seat before you pee? I’m the one who has to wipe off your mess.” But it’s just a theory.

Actually, that theory was just advanced to me last week, the first time in 50+ years anyone has ever offered any explanation at all. But after due consideration, I’d have to doubt the theory, as any man can vouch that we really aren’t accurate enough to pee between the slit that separates the two sides, let alone not hit the seat sides. It’s why they put seats on hinges. Yet I have seen guys stand to pee and not put the seat up. I wonder if they do the same at home, and what their spouse has to say about having to mop up their mess before they can use the seat.

Used to be required by building code.
Suspect they still are.
Sanitation was the cited reason.

Could be. But it would seem to me that a chunk of bare bowl in front of you would be less sanitary than the seat you’re sitting on. All I can say is that whomever would propose something for that reason was possibly a few bricks shy of a load in their logic.

As to the building codes, maybe they need to be thrown out, if for nothing else than the lack of logical reasoning. You think?

Keeve, my objection is that if the bowl has been soiled, all the open face slot does is expose me to that filth. Yuck! And it’s the part of me I most value.

This is the reason–it was taught in all archtectural schools.

No–your logic is wrong. You have zero contact with the bare bowl. But you sit on the seat, right? And if the previous person left some drops of urine, they are most likely to fall on that little section of the seat --which is missing, and therefore not likely to touch you, right?

BTW, are these open-face toilet seats an American thing? I’ve never seen them in my neck of the woods (central Europe) and when I first travelled to the US, I found them so unusual that I even took a picture. :o

donnerwetter, yes, they are strictly an American thing, as far as I know. I’ve been to Europe , and enjoyed being away from them.

Chappachula, thanks for the response. At least I know who to blame. As far as logic, I’d have to fault theirs. I look at it that if there’s droplets on the front of the seat, there might be others elsewhere. I never was messy that way, so can’t see what they think they see. So I’ll just have to agree to disagree with their line of logic.

Either way, what right do they have forcing their ideas onto me? Something like this ought to be up to the owners of the facility to decide, according to what their patrons tell them. Just my opinion, mind you.

The Master speaks

Warning: possible TMI contained within.
I call bullshit on the reasoning behind the U-shaped toilet seat. When I sit on the seat, for um, combined usage (number 1 and 2 at the same time), I’m aiming pretty much straight down, and if I was peeing hard enough to splash the leading edge of the seat, I’d be splashing all over myself as well. If it’s to reduce mess while we’re peeing standing up, and forgot to lift the seat, well, the front section (the part omitted from the U-shaped seat) would probably remain the cleanest part, as aim is typically more likely to err toward the back of the bowl than the front. For the bulk of the civilized segment of the male population, who lift the seat, if we’re going to soil any part of the (raised) seat, that part would be diametrically opposite the section in question.
One phenomenon I’ve noticed is that when I’ve seen the front underside of the seat soiled, it’s actually happened as a result of a lady using said toilet. As the main vector of female pee is forward, not down, they’re more likely to hit this part of the seat. As they rarely have to raise the seat, they’re unlikely to notice this soiling. Occasionally, I’ve seen seats with this soiling of a color not typically found in male urine. That is the main point of evidence I have to support my theory.

Siam Sam, thanks for the enlightening answer. But I have to agree with what Satellite Guy points out. So Shabbir Rawalpindiwala, chairman of the toilet-seat committee for the American National Standards Institute has two of us that disagree with him and his committee.

I have a solution to the whole mess, and another problem as well. Might as well kill two birds with one stone. And I’m probably going to make somebody rich in the process, because I’m going to give the solution away for free to the first person smart enough to patent the idea.

Simply make ALL seats such that, unless the lid or somebody was sitting on it, it would be counterweighted such that it would automatically raise itself to the up position. This would solve the problem of clods in the public restrooms from baptizing an unraised seat when they stand to do their deed. It secondly would train everyone to expect the seat to be up, and therefore it would need to be put down for usage. This would retrain women to expect the seat in the up position, and eliminate their biggest complaint about male bathroom behaviour. And just think of all the money the commercial and government agencies would save on restroom cleaning.

Incidentally, I’d call those careless clods some kind of animals, but that would insult both species.

Personally, I prefer ‘seat down’, mainly because I don’t relish the idea of having to fish my dropped toothbrush out of the toilet. Somewhat more alarmingly, I’ve had my wedding ring, which I remove to wash my hands, bounce off the (closed) toilet seat, and harmlessly onto the floor. That’s a fishing trip I’d rather not take.

And you watch because . . .

FYI Kayaker, I wasn’t standing there watching. Rather, I simply walked into the restroom looking for an open stall, and there that clod was, doing his business with the seat down. I was like, “Oh Gawd, how gross!” He quickly announced that he was just finishing, and did. I tend not to be too quick a wit, but as he left the scene of the crime, it would have been the perfect time to say some smart remark to him. He deserved something that would have embarrassed him, yes?

The beginning and ending of each act of urination includes some dribbling and low pressure output. More so for older men. This is probably the source for most of the urine on the close part of the seat, the part omitted from the U-shaped seats. It’s not bad aim, it’s the dribbling that u-shaped seats are meant to avoid.

Another factor is that toilets used to be smaller than they are today. Most of us are familiar with the typical round bowls of the 1950s & 1960s versus the longer oval bowls of the 1970s & later. For a big person sitting down on a round toilet, it can be a struggle to fit a penis down behind the front of an O-shaped seat. The U-shaped seat buys a couple inches of much-needed clearance.

That extra clearance was most of the motivation for the more oval toilets. The commercial building codes just never caught up.

Satellite Guy, I too prefer it left down. But note that I said it should be counterweighted such that the lid would hold it down. Maybe you misunderstood?

As to having an uncovered seat automatically raise, this would apply to public facilities, as they don’t generally have lids.

And in home usage, as I point out, it would end women’s complaints about men leaving the seat up, as women would get used to expecting it. All courtesies aside, a truly bogus complaint if there ever was one, in my humble opinion. And a one-sided one at that, as a woman cannot return the courtesy. Women simply need to take responsibility for their own actions. And that from a man who has, on more than one occasion, accidentally sat down on an open bowl. I had no one to blame but myself, and I take full responsibility as well. And every woman should, too, I feel.

LSL Guy, I can understand the dribbling thought, but wouldn’t that apply to the seat being down? The times I’ve gone into a public restroom and found the seat baptized, it was all around the entire perimeter of the seat, and not just the front. So I would tend to think having the seat up is still the best preventative.

The oval bowl is indeed a welcome advancement, but one that hasn’t caught on in home applications very fast, sorry to say. And I agree that building codes should be revised accordingly. But then again, I’ve seen oval bowls equipped with an open-face seat, so go figure. Maybe a result of those pesky, outdated building codes?