When it's your name on the wall

The title may sound more like an achievement, but the focus of today’s blog is on the following:  

  • Have you ever noticed your name scribbled on a toilet wall or seat?
  • Have you ever been called names on these walls?
  • Have you ever been tagged? - making you uncomfortable socially?
  • Does that graffiti involve trolling, crushing your self-confidence and self-belief?

I’m sure none of the above points are accomplishments. If you have been a victim, or a bully, or involved in any of the above, then this blog is dedicated to you.

Let me begin with a definition of ‘Latrinalia’. This is a deliberate inscription or depiction made on the walls of latrines, bathrooms, or lavatories.

While the perpetrator of such crude graffiti usually does this with a sense of pride, courage, rage, or superiority, I find such anonymous acts display cowardice, and a mockery that serves to leave your super personality hidden behind closed doors.

Latrinalia is differently expressed in both genders.

In male toilets you may see the use of abusive languages and art, perhaps rooted in men’s aggressive nature, demanding them to show their courage by name-calling (eg. labelling someone ‘gay’ or ‘a faggot’, drawing genitalia, or using abusive language, in order to defame authority, or declare their love interest, or even draw female breasts or a vagina, and tag them.

In female toilets, you may see romantic poems, or insults – possibly the result of either extremely moralistic attitudes, or out of jealousy, or even a hyper awareness that she is a woman.

Irrespective of who is writing it, or where it is written, it holds the space, and the audience’s attention. Alan Dunde, the Folklorist, suggests that, the desire to draw on the walls of latrines comes from primitive smearing impulses, akin to when an infant may manipulate faeces; as far as people who write, scribble, or carve is concerned, he says that this comes from the innate desire to smudge, with dirty words, as one doesn’t wish to smear themselves. The effects are that their words and artwork hurt, and although the graffiti can be washed and cleaned, or the walls repainted, it does damage people’s self-confidence and one’s belief in themselves.

How do you deal with latrinalia:

  • Do not worry yourself trying to find out who the responsible culprit is for these writings; it is futile and not worth the effort
  • You may choose to either ignore the graffiti, paint over it, or to respond to it, but remember it may lead to more commenting
  • You could become friends with the cleaner who can assist you to clean the areas

Last but not the least, the perpetrator needs to understand that hiding behind the doors, or scribbling when no one is around or watching, doesn’t make them any better person than you.  Your conscience is watching you and knows the truth!

The information and views expressed in the blog are individual and inspired from writer’s experience and study in Mental Health & Hypnotherapy.