When I go to the toilet in the morning, I leave the tap faintly on so that the drumming of water into the bucket drowns out my farts. I have been doing this since my childhood, sometimes at the cost of wasting water. The overflowing bucket never once stigmatising me as the shame of my resounding farts. I am today a married woman in my early 30s, and would still like the society, mostly my husband, to believe that I don’t fart. What can be more embarrassing than suddenly passing wind in the middle of a conversation, and getting ridiculed for it. Wish I could be more like men on that count. To be able to fart proudly and openly. Why can’t a woman’s farts have the same acceptance as a man’s. Why don’t we think we are allowed to fart too?
Turns out there are many women like me, who think farting for women is a huge taboo. Is this just a cultural conditioning or there is more to it? I spoke to several women and culled out the top reasons for women hesitating to fart in front of their men, and others.
1. Women are told farting is bad manners
Since childhood, if you are a girl, you are discouraged from openly farting. Aditi Kapur (real name withheld) recalls an event from her childhood and the distinction we as a society make between a boy and a girl for their farts too.
“I was 8 years old and was sitting in the living room couch and watching television. My stomach was feeling bloated for a while and I broke wind very naturally and loudly. My mother who was present in the same room appeared disgusted and told me to never fart loudly and that it is extreme bad manners. But that did not deter her from checking my brother or my father from farting. My brother would fart at odd moments when we were about to sit down for dinner or about to get into the car, and everyone humoured him, and he himself quite enjoyed the attention. But never did anyone ask him to stop doing it because it was bad manners.”
2. Women are told it is boyish to fart
Another woman, Shikha Acharya (name changed) shares her experience of being bold about farts and how she ended up. Says she, “I was a tomboy, I never wore girly clothes or played with dolls. I was always hanging around with the boys, and like them never thought twice before farting. One time I was sitting on the front porch with my mother, reading a comic when I suddenly farted aloud. My mother who found no humour in it, immediately told me that it was sick and I shall never get a good groom. She said girls don’t fart, else they have a hard time finding a decent husband. I took her advise so to heart that till date I am shy of my farts, and cannot imagine farting before my husband of 20 years.
3. Women are humiliated, not humoured, for farting
Truth be told, even men take offence to women’s farts, they think it extremely uncultured for a woman to fart. Shares Katha Saha (name changed) about an incident from her teenage years.
“I am not one to fart before anyone, much less my guy, and I have learnt this the hard way. In my college days, I was dating this boy from my class. We used to spend a lot of time together. Once we were playing video game in his room, and I ended up farting owing to my upset stomach. Embarrassed, I excused myself to the washroom. Later when I was back, he politely told me that women from a cultured background don’t fart openly. That it is very disrespectful. He was never the same with me after that.”
4. Society doesn’t accept farting women
The cultural conditioning on why farting publicly is not acceptable takes place rather early in a woman’s life. They are told by their immediate families to withhold a fart, rush to the washroom, but not commit the felony of openly breaking wind. Explains Ridhima Nagar (name changed) about how she was asked by her parents to stop farting if she wanted to make friends and have an acceptance in the society.
As a young kid, I found it amusing to fart and would fart a lot with gay abandon. But every time I would see my folks cringe because of my farts. Then a year or so later my mother told me that I should check this habit of mine if I wanted to make good friends and move ahead in life. She said I was embarrassing her because of my farts, and she begged me to stop. I felt so moved by her confession, that I consciously stopped farting openly. I vowed to never embarrass her again. And nothing has changed till date. I still feel shy about farting in front of my family, and I am a 29 year old, well-to-do IT professional.
It’s quite tragic the way we isolate women for their farts, and the fact that women themselves feel they shouldn’t fart publicly, especially in front of their men. While men go about this business with gay abandon! Time we came out of the closet and breathed free.