Not all of us are assholes, but all of us have one

Illustration by Cristina Williams

Illustration by Cristina Williams

Letting one rip. Shooting the breeze. Breaking wind. Cuttin’ the cheese.

Farting.

Reading that, I bet you felt discomforted. Why is that? We all know we fart, so what’s the big deal? Once while waiting in the airport security line, the man in front of me farted and suddenly became very engrossed with his phone. I desperately wanted to laugh; he looked petrified that he’d been found out as a farter. (If you’re still having trouble reading ‘fart’ without cringing, just chant it out loud and eventually it will lose all meaning and be reduced to an odd sound, embodying the very nature of its own taboo.)

I’ve recently had some insight into this dilemma. After knowing my significant other for about two weeks, I accidentally farted while sleeping over at his place. At first I was disoriented, and then I remembered — I froze in mortification, waiting for him to stir and laugh or comment or something, but I don’t think he heard  (unless he was pretending). But then, the following morning he farted in front of me! He was embarrassed, but I kind of smiled and reached for my phone like I was too busy to notice or care when really we both knew I noticed and cared because I smiled, but mostly I was smiling because I was thinking: if only he knew I’d done the same last night…

Just the other day he farted again, yet again neither of us acknowledged it, which just makes it all the more awkward. Sometimes it’s best to laugh it off or talk about it, but not in a serious sit-down-and-pour-yourself-a-drink kind of way. Four months have passed and I have yet to fart in front of my significant other while he’s conscious but when I do, our relationship will have leveled up to some new understanding.

And then there are those you can fart in front of and zero f*cks will be given. These people are generally family members. I’m living with my older brother temporarily and we’re no strangers to farting in front of each other. In fact, farting can be bonding: “Aw man, that one was sharp. How the hell can farts be sharp? It’s just air!” “I know right?!” Or we’ll pull a Peter Griffin and gaze off mysteriously into the distance and say, “What the hell was that?” Or we’ll simply say nothing at all.

Friends are another category in the comfart zone. My sister’s friend, drunk off her face as the two of them walked home one night, paused to fart, then sighed and said, “I feel like our friendship has reached that level of intimacy where I can do that.” Farting in front of people you know seems to bring you closer together, though they may move away at first. But my sister, too, has trouble with her significant other. She’s been at her boyfriend’s house and thought, “Man, I really need to fart, but I can’t” so she holds it in. I, too, am guilty of this, so much so that I’ll get cramps and can’t wait to be in the privacy of my own car where I can comfortably let it rip. So satisfying.

But it’s different for guys. One of my guy friends farts amongst our group, and he has no shame about it. He just smiles impishly and we all laugh, because it’s funny after all, but I could never do that and get the same results. There seems to be this stigma around girls farting in public. Our society has manufactured girls to be sexy, perfect, dainty and ladylike products of society. It’s like sometimes girls and humans aren’t permitted to be one and the same thing.

But where does this stigma even come from? I think it’s partly due to societal constructs of women as dainty Greek goddesses that have no bodily functions as mere mortal men do, but I also think it’s partly due to the way kids treat each other. Other kids would make fun of you if you farted: they’d point and laugh, tell the teacher on you, or wrongfully blame you. We can all relate to this I’m sure, both guys and girls. This early enculturation of shaming others when they fart sticks as we get older, though we all know we ALL do it. And we aren’t the only species that does it. We’re just the only species to hide it.

But seriously, if you can fart comfortably in the presence of your significant other then you know you really have something special there. If you came up short on the Valentine’s front this year, perhaps try farting in front of your significant other next year  to demonstrate how close you feel to them. I guarantee your relationship will change, one way or another.

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