Pic of the day: You didn't really think I'd use a picture of myself here? Besides, in an anime if you ever see someone on the toilet, you know that someone of the appropriate gender will come barging in. Here from the anime Da Capo 2.
Potty training may not be as important as people thought a generation ago, and thank the Light for that. Back then, people were earnestly talking about "anal-retentive" personality types, whereas this is now just an insult. The idea that basic personality types are connected to habits of defecation is now about as scientific as phrenology or racism. I am living proof of how far off it is: As a child and through my youth, I was literally anal-retentive, going as long as I could between toilet visits. But I was just as disorganized as now. I still can't believe the theory was ever meant seriously, it sounds like something one would come up with while roaring drunk.
That said, potty training is still a major undertaking in early life. And for good measure, your teachers have virtually no qualification except their own experience, which means if it was a bad experience for them, it is likely to be for you too. I suppose genetic relationship may be a good thing, since details of the digestion are highly inheritable. In some families it is common to have only one or two bowel movements a week (I'm not kidding although it is unusual), in others it can be twice a day. But even in this, there is no guarantee that your child will be like you. It could take after its grandparents instead, and chances are you have only vague information on their bowel movements. Exactly because it is a very private thing, which is one of the most important lessons of potty training in the first instance.
As a result, all kinds of craziness attaches to the act of defecation. I have no idea – in fact, no one can possibly get any idea since it's not talked about – but the sheer economic impact of constipation and other colorectal disorders must be staggering. And you can't put numbers on the ocean of human suffering, or measure the tragedy of all the needless cancers caused by unhealthy behavior combined with the extreme fear of having a medical checkup in that area.
Defecation is one of those strange in-between things. It is partly automatic and partly voluntary. Kinda like breathing, only on a much larger scale. Imagine if millions of people habitually held their breath until they almost fainted. This is how it is with bowel movements. Of course, there are some who are the other way too: They can't bear the slightest touch of stool in their sigmoid colon before they must expel it at any cost, including frequent enemas that erode the body's natural ability to complete the digestive process in a more stately manner.
But for personal history reasons, my greatest sympathy is with the poor kids who spend an hour or more on the toilet seat straining, straining and magically unable to get anything done. Actually a good advice is to not spend more than 3 minutes in a row sitting & straining if nothing happens. The pressure will cause the soft tissues of the lower rectum to swell, making the passage that much harder. Getting up from time to time will allow the colon to change its shape and ease the passage of stool, as well as help the blood move on rather than ballooning the veins down there.
On a related note, you may have problems with swelling and hemorrhoids if you have had sexual excitement recently prior to defecation. In both men and women, increased local blood pressure is part of sexual function, and because of the sheer physical proximity, the blood pressure rises also in the anus.
This does not mean, as some confused people think, that the anus is a sexual organ. It is not. The twin taboos of sex and waste elimination combined with the physical proximity to the genitals lends itself all too well to the idea that there is some kind of connection. But that is all in confused people's heads. Yes, the area is kinda sensitive, as well it should be since it is vulnerable. But there is nothing inherently sexy about the anus. Most people who try anal sex find it unpleasant or, on the receiving end, outright painful. It is actually a quite rare fetish that has got too much publicity for the common good. Part of this is probably because to homosexual men, anal intercourse is the closest they come to emulating the real thing. But there is really no reason to do that, because if they wanted the real thing they would not have been gay in the first instance. Accordingly, lots of gay couples don't, or they try it only once too. But the popular notion remains, causing further confusion and shame in people to whom it is utterly irrelevant. It goes without saying that viewing the anus as a sex organ is not going to do much good for your bathroom habits.
There ought to be some kind of grassroot movement about this. "Taking back the anus" or something. But since this is all utterly shrouded in taboo, I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen. In fact, I won't even hold my rectal sphincter waiting for it.
Visit the ChaosNode.net for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.