As a millennial who spends an inordinate amount of time scrolling through TikTok, I’m often approached by my peers in hushed, slightly embarrassed tones to explain or comment on various Gen Z ephemera. Usually, there’s a modicum of sociocultural context I can provide, which mostly amounts to explaining who Addison Rae is or why they shouldn’t be offended by jokes about skinny jeans and side parts or what makes bullying Lin-Manuel Miranda so funny. But recently, one of my best friends texted me with a query that left me at a loss for words.
“I’ve been getting a lot of TikToks of girls who are talking/joking about wanting to get peed on,” he asked me. “Is this a thing?” He then attached a series of TikToks of various attractive young women, all united by their fervent stated desire to be micturated upon. There was a POV video where a girl smiled mischievously after losing a staring contest where the loser had to get peed on. There was a video with the caption, “when you take your bf to the beach and ‘accidentally’ get stung by a jellyfish,’” as a woman dramatically lip-synched, “I’ve won. Exactly as planned” (actually, the vast majority of the videos under that audio are pee-centric).
It seemed that my friend had inadvertently stumbled on PissTok, a segment of TikTok in which zoomers purport to have a raging pee fetish. (The technical term is “urophilia,” but that’s a lot less fun to say than “piss kink.”) While there are many variations on the #pisstok content genre (which, despite TikTok’s stringent content guidelines, has about 22.4 million views), the general theme is fairly consistent: an individual, usually a woman, concocts a fictional scenario in which she accidentally-on-purpose engages in piss play and likes it. (It goes without saying no actual golden showers take place on-camera.)
Now, before some perpetually enraged Ben Shapiro type reads about this and devotes a podcast episode to decrying the degradation of Western culture, I should probably say what accompanies virtually any explanation of any meme: it’s a joke; it’s not that serious.
“HAHAHA NO WAY,” Kira Fields, aka precum.baby on TikTok, said when I DM’ed her to talk about PissTok (a message that was preceded by an extensive apology). I’d DM’ed Kira because I came across one of her videos, in which she crosses her eyes with the caption, “look me straight in the eyes and tell me you don’t have a raging piss kink.” “I gotta tell you though, that video was a joke. I just thought it was funny.” When asked to analyze it further (which is, as we all know, a tried-and-true way to make a joke even funnier), Kira responded thoughtfully, saying, “I think we’re a very open generation when it comes to sex as it’s no longer a taboo subject, and are in a way desensitized to most things people are into sexually.”
While she thought having a piss kink still qualified as edgy enough to attract attention — “it’s one of those things that’s still uncommon and uncomfortably funny to think about” — after posting her video, she was surprised to see in the comments that many people thought she was serious, estimating that a third of her commenters were horrified and a third were “into it.” “[That] tells me there’s a lot more people with the actual kink than I thought,” she says. (She’s right: one Australian survey suggests that approximately four percent of men share the kink, a small yet not entirely negligible number.)
Interestingly, though the term “kink-shaming” is thrown about so often in contemporary discourse that it’s become a meme in itself, there’s nothing that comes off as shaming or anti-kink about videos like Kira’s. In that vein, it didn’t particularly bother her that people thought she actually had a pee fetish, because the punchline wasn’t really the kink itself, but her roundabout method of professing it. “A lot of Gen Z humor is making yourself the butt of the joke,” she says.
Even though PissTok is largely in jest, there is one aspect of it that’s worth noting: how female-centric the meme is. For perhaps obvious reasons, little cultural space has been devoted to pee talk in general, but what little discussion has existed has largely been focused on men who have the fetish. Think that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie Bradshaw — who, it should be noted, ostensibly makes her living as a sex-positive columnist — is simply shocked, shocked to discover her politician boyfriend (played by perennial silver fox John Slattery) asks her to pee on him.
But PissTok is largely dominated by young women, who use the joke as a way to express their ardent sexual desire for their partners or for celebrities such as Sebastian Stan or Timothee Chalamet or Elizabeth Olson. So overwhelming is their horniness for the individual in question, they seem to be saying, that they would happily allow them — nay, even go to great lengths to arrange for them — to pee on them. (A corollary to this is the TikTok trend in which women ardently complain they would never let any man spit in their mouth, only to cut to heartthrobs like Adam Driver or Harry Styles or the sexy, psychically damaged fish voiced by Willem Dafoe in Finding Nemo.) “I believe it could have something to do with women being more comfortable in their sexuality,” Kira says of the trend. And while none of this is to say that zoomers making silly jokes about pee is an empowering feminist #girlboss trend, it is perhaps to suggest that we’ve come a long way since Carrie Bradshaw bat-shrieking about the prospect of pissing on the guy from Mad Men.