Bolder minds envision a world free of strife, hunger, inequality. My utopia is a little more modest and attainable: a world where people pass gas freely and openly whenever they have to, unfettered by social mores.
You could fart in front of your crush, your employer, your respected elders. Whenever gases trembled in your bowels—whether due to swallowing of air, or the breakdown of food in intestines—they’d be liberated without any concern about sound or smell.
You’re aghast. I ask you to open your mind.
Maybe you’re at worst repulsed and at best amused by farts, and you struggle to even imagine setting them loose in polite company. Maybe you’ll make an appeal to the inherent qualities of farts: those honking toots and raspberry purrs are just too silly for me to not giggle! Those sulfurous emissions are too rank for me not to pinch my nose and flee! After all, they smell like poop, and we’re biologically wired to avoid our poop, which teems with things that can make us sick.
But that takes such a dim view of humanity—we’re not slaves to our biology. For millenia, humans have ingested ethanol for fun, overcoming the natural urge to retch. We’ve reprogrammed ourselves to savor the bitter sting of actual poison just because it offers some perceived benefits. Next to this feat, retooling culture to tolerate farts seems trivially easy, and much more worthwhile. Just teach our children not to laugh at the toots, not to be fazed by its odors (while reminding them, yes, it’s still unsafe to play with poop), and not to shame its perpetrators.
Consider all the benefits we’d reap. We would unburden ourselves of so much petty embarrassment, so many hours of bloating and pain. We’d avoid so much inane, stressful social maneuvering. And the perks are not limited to mental health: we’d reduce the risk of diverticulitis by alleviating intra-colonic pressure caused by unpassed gas.
By some cruel twist of cultural evolution, we’ve all ended up ashamed of the natural functioning of our bodies. The change might come slow, but we must start chipping away at these destructive norms. Free the fart.
This is Gawker Media’s last week as an independent media operation, and while that shouldn’t affect you much one way or the other as a reader, we’re still going to take advantage of a pretext to run some especially stupid posts. If you have any ideas for such posts, hit us at firstname.lastname@example.org.