Forget Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. If you want to understand how men and women differ, look no further than your nearest public toilet. That’s the conclusion drawn in The Toilet Study – an irreverent guerrilla research project by London-based advertising whizz kid, Scott Kelly.
By turns funny, fascinating and, frankly, depressing at times, the study is exactly what you’d expect: an analysis of how graffiti in men’s and women’s public loos reveals “the dark inner workings” of both sexes. Here’s one of the key findings:
(Who said romance was dead, eh?)
The Toilet Study’s origins are charmingly unpretentious. Scott was using a public bathroom one day when he was struck by a thought: “I wondered, do women write on bathroom walls?”
With the help of a female accomplice, he set out to uncover the answer to this pressing question. They visited over 100 publicly accessible loos across Peckham, Camden, Shoreditch and Dalston, where each would enter their respective gender’s toilet and photograph the scribblings within. More than 1,000 individual messages were documented, spanning topics as diverse as sex and religion, politics and pop culture, love and, well, anatomy.
For men, their bits were a source of endless graffiti inspiration. No less than 46% of all toilet-wall illustrations by men depicted their tackle. The most common illustration among women? The love heart.
While Scott makes no claims to be a statistician, he took an admirably rigorous approach to his data. Every message was painstakingly assessed and categorised not only by subject matter and gender, but also tone and spelling. In almost every respect, the difference between the sexes revealed a gaping chasm.
Consider this: men used aggressive, abusive language four times more often than women, whereas women were five times more likely than men to write uplifting and/or encouraging statements.
In only one area did both sexes coincide. The Toilet Study reports that “Expressions of humour occurred equally as often between men and women.”
Ah, toilet humour – the great equaliser.