by Izzy Kings

In elementary school, two friends and I spent fifteen minutes spitting on a pile of twigs outside our campus. There was no reason for it, we simply felt a strange high from watching our spit encase the bark of the twigs. When we finished we stared down at our handiwork, wordlessly agreeing that we’d never speak of this again. It felt barbaric, destructive, and completely “unbecoming” for a bunch of Catholic school girls.

Spitting is gross, don’t get me wrong. It’s disgusting to see a fresh loogie plastered on the sidewalk in front of you. In the late 1800s, cities around the US even made laws against it to keep streets clean and prevent diseases. Spitting on someone (or something) is seen as a sign of blatant disrespect and when you do accidentally spit while talking it’s really embarrassing (especially if it manages to land on someone). Like most naturally occurring things in the human body, we don't like to talk about, spit included.

art by Meightyal Liu

art by Meightyal Liu

Despite this, cisgender men spit proudly and confidently on the streets, unaffected by the societal stigmas attached to public spitting. I am amazed by how they do it sometimes, almost like the perfect trajectory formula is coded naturally within their brains. It reminds me of the scene from Mulan when all the men spit and Mulan’s dribbles down her chin before gravity finally takes its course. For cis men it seems so natural that I almost forget it’s gross. There is no collateral damage. No mess.

I began to ask myself why cis men feel the need to spit in the first place. So I spent my week asking every cis man I could about it. “No judgement, male peer, you can spit as you please,” I said to a male peer. “But why do you?”

“I have a bad taste in my mouth,” was the resounding answer from much of the men in my life. “Cigarettes, too much saliva, my mouth is dry, etc.”

Some cis men I asked claimed they never spit in their life. I even asked my Uber driver for good measure. “Spitting? Me? No. Never,” he said.

Still, there is something kind of beautiful about the fact that cis men of every shape and size takes part in such a gross habit. It’s become a trademark for rugged masculinity, for not giving a shit, recklessness, and freedom. As a kid it felt manic to me, but to cis men it feels natural and unimportant. Perhaps in spitting on sidewalks, cis men are quietly declaring a new revolution, watering the soil of their land, rejecting the grossness in their bodies whenever and wherever they see fit. As a young girl, this ownership was an addicting feeling that I hardly consider today.

I’m not trying to promote public spitting, but it’s important to consider that maybe spitting feel somewhat gendered because gender subconsciously dictates what we’re entitled to in life. So spit away, ladies. Have no fear! (Or don’t, because it’s pretty disgusting).