by Joshua Alan Terry
Marking Our Territory

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Back in college I heard about some radical feminist groups that believed an ideal society would work to eliminate all inherently male traits. Utopia would essentially be a human race made up entirely of lesbians and a couple of token homosexuals that would act as a mobile sperm bank.

All I have to say is that I place these people in the same category as the Nation of Islam and Rage Against The Machine: I'm glad there aren't a whole lot of people listening to them.

But I do admit that there are a few male tendencies that could use a little socialization. The tendency to pee on everything is one of them.

See, one thing that guys have in common with the general animal kingdom is the desire to mark their territory at every opportunity. It's a way of showing dominance and control, basically an "up yours" act of civil disobedience that is about as far as you can go before crossing obscenity lines.

I used to think that public urination was the line that divided the third world from the rest of the world.* My friends would always tell me about how on their LDS missions to foreign countries, they would always see people peeing in the streets and such. Since I never saw it in Chicago, I figured it was a strictly civilization/non-civilization thing.

I was wrong.

As I consider my post-mission experience, I realize that the tendency to mark your territory is an inherent guy trait that crosses all cultural boundaries.

Cases in point:

Exhibit A: While driving down Rancho Boulevard in Las Vegas, I notice a middle-aged man standing at an odd angle to a bus bench. His back is to me, but cocked at a 45 degree angle to the bench. I realize that he is marking his territory immediately behind the bench. This ensures that virtually all of the bench area is now his exclusive domain.

Exhibit B: I am on my way to an oil change at Midas. Since it is a busy day, almost all of the parking spots are taken. The one remaining spot is next to a family sedan with its doors open. A small child is standing by the door, peeing on the empty parking space. I feel uncomfortable parking there, and move on.

Exhibit C: In the recent film "The Big Lebowski", the entire motivation of the protagonist is due to the opening scene, where two thugs break into his apartment and pee on his rug.

Exhibit D: As a senior in high school, twenty-five male friends and I were escorted via chartered bus to a girl's choice Halloween dance. As most girl's choice events tend to be somewhat emasculating to one degree or another, we chose to mark our territory by stealing away from the rest of the group and collectively peeing on a nearby fence. I cannot suitably describe the degree of liberation this single act had on each of our tenderized male psyches.

Exhibit E: Essentially every elevated world conflict is nothing more than two guys peeing on a global level. For example, the Middle Eastern Conflict, World War II, Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates circa 1985.

Now, the truth of the matter is I don't really know what to do about this phenomenon. I can't even say it's entirely wrong. Like most actions, it only becomes a problem when taken to unnecessary extremes (like Kobe vs. Shaq). If held in check, it can probably remain as one of those social foibles we can smile and laugh at.

All I know is this: today I took my dog Otto for a walk. We wandered into a neighborhood he doesn't see much, and we came across a much smaller dog (Otto is a 105-pound yellow lab) that didn't seem to appreciate Otto's presence. So this dog starts getting in Otto's face, barking away, calling him out and all of that trash-talking stuff.

What does Otto do? He pees on his sidewalk.

And I was proud of him.


*How come we always use the term "third world", but never "first" or "second world"? I'm assuming that the "first world" would include the advanced nations like the US or Britain, but what constitutes the "second world"? France?


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