Because They’re French

by: Damien Raider

Are Americans missing the boat on bidets?….

cgaxis_models_22_01a.jpg9f3e373c-c08c-48ce-aa89-1c5273b3a585LargeIf you are one of the privileged, the lucky and able who have traveled internationally, you are undoubtedly familiar with a bidet. It’s the toilet looking thing next to the toilet. The sink you sit on. The first time I encountered a bidet I emptied a bucket of ice into it and threw some cold ones into what I assumed was a sink for the little people of the world1. How thoughtful the hotel industry was finally catering to the needs of little people. And now I could chill my beers without hindering use of the regular sink. What did I know? I was young, dumb and full of rum.

But bidets in actuality are a very useful and underused appliance. Common throughout many parts of Europe, as well as South America, bidets act as an alternative to toilet paper for cleaning your genitals, inner buttocks, and your anus. Americans have shied away from their use, apparently ignorant to their benefits, naive to the soothing effects of a warm stream of water gracing those areas where the sun don’t shine. With all due respect to toilet paper and the many times it has rid me of the feculence of humanity, we must take a moment to look at our options, and to decide whether it is high time to make a change.

Let’s commence some real talk. Let’s get to the heart of the matter. Honestly, how could you possibly clean yourself more efficiently than actually washing oneself with water after using the bathroom? No tissue paper guessing game (Did I get it all…appears so?). And, if you had feces all over your hands, you wouldn’t just wipe it off with a piece of paper, would you? Relying on toilet paper can easily be viewed as outdated for a variety of reasons.

First off, toilet paper, as we just discussed, is often inadequate for the job. It’s out of its league in many ways. Better than the ole timey days of using your hand of course, but still a relic of the past. Secondly, there’s clogging. When you are going to work with toilet paper, trying to mop up as efficiently as possible, you can sometimes forget the limitations of the toilet, leading to a far greater mess than you began with. And lastly, isn’t using toilet paper wasteful? Are we not in an era where we must make decisions based on their effects on our beloved Mother Earth? Bidets, it is easily argued, are a far greener solution for tidying up your undercarriage than paper. But what about water waste you ask? Let’s get into that….

Americans take far too many showers. This is a fact. The length and abundance of gratuitous showers stateside is appalling. I’m guilty of it. Odds are you are too. Essential body oils and wasted water have been flowing through American’s sewer systems for far too long. What if the reason we need so many showers is that we just aren’t washing our asses competently? Somewhere deep inside we know that we need that extra shower, as the concern that we may have missed a streak of two while last wiping is always omnipresent. In this regard bidets actually save water. If we just cleaned our junk with care after defecating (also after jogging, sex, menstruation, etc.), we could cut back on all the water waste and the depletion of fossil fuels from that extra shower.

Get this, Americans, while trying to clean up after the storm, use over 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper annually (that’s billion, with a B!), comprised from the pulp of roughly 15 million trees. And anyone familiar with the craft of producing toilet paper (or paper of any kind) knows that it involves water and chlorine, and in this case we are talking about 500 billion gallons of water and about 253,000 tons of chlorine for bleaching. Not to mention the energy necessary for the process, about 17.3 terawatts. I am not sure what that means either but rest assured, it’s alot!

Furthermore, in respect to water consumption, a bidet user typical employs about 1/8th of a gallon to service their derriere. While a toilet uses about 4 gallons per flush (sure, there are low flush toilets, and you still have to flush your “deposit” down, but I think you get my gist here..)2! These are overwhelming numbers, ones that make it abundantly obvious Americans are well overdue for some bathroom remodeling.

And let us not pretend that all trips to the bathroom are created equal. We all know this isn’t the case. Sometimes, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men.” Sometimes, things get messy. It’s nobody’s fault. Adventurous eating is fun. Binge drinking is fun. Stomach flu’s happen. LIFE happens. When the time comes, you need to hire a cleaner. When things get out of hand, you need a bigger boat.

Seems simple enough doesn’t it? While imploring upon even the most rudimentary of logic, the sanitary, health, and environmental benefits of bidets far exceed those of toilet paper. So what gives? Why don’t Americans use bidets?

Well the answer is simple – because they’re French.

True bidets originated in France (in the late 17th century), but this doesn’t necessarily make them all bad. Where would we be without baguettes, the novels of Alexandre Dumas, Champagne, Bordeaux, and Burgundy? In the early 18th century, as the French began to export bidets, to share with the world the secret to cleaner living, the idea was rejected by the English in whole as the English deemed all French imports as corrupted by excessive sexuality and hedonism. This idea spread like wildfire to the United States, and little has changed since.

There are other factors of course, including the fact that many bathrooms in U.S. households aren’t big enough to house an extra appliance (this could be remedied by the invention of a bidet toilet seat!), the change in behaviors a bidet requires of consumers, and that Americans find bidets odd, superfluous, and somewhat embarrassing.

But these justifications appear far from enough. These are simple obstacles that can be easily overcome. So let us let the Bidet Revolution begin stateside. Let us not only catch up to the world in education, clean energy, and in gun safety – but also in clean genetials and asses. What are we waiting for? Is the toilet paper lobby just far too strong?

We must demand cleaner asses, and the technology to make this happen. Is this too much to ask? Are we not worthy of this? Of feeling so fresh and so clean? It is time we bid adieu to the shackles of toilet paper, and its grating and befouled disposition. And say hello to the sweet relief that only a bidet can offer.

  1. Crocodile Dundee had a hard time figuring these things out as well. Turns out we aren’t so different. []
  2. All statistics used can be found here, a sharply written article at Scientific American. []
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