David Sax


It’s Time for Americans to Get Over It and Embrace the Bidet

How cleaner butts can get us to a cleaner planet.

At the Toto showroom in downtown Manhattan, a young, well-dressed woman enters and announces with a groan that she’s here to buy a bidet toilet seat. The salesperson proudly displays the five different models of Toto’s Washlet, the advanced electronic toilet seat with a built-in, controllable bidet (along with seat heater, deodorizer, MP3 player, and other available features). “I don’t really care which one,” the woman tells the salesperson. “I’m not going to use it. If it were up to me I wouldn’t get this thing, but it’s something my husband wants. Our deal is he gets this, and I get my say with the rest of the house. It’ll be hidden in our master bathroom. … I don’t want my guests to see this.”

I stand a few feet away, shaking my head in disbelief. Here we are in the world’s most sophisticated city, surrounded by the marvels of 21st century technological progress, and this clearly wealthy woman cannot wrap her head around a toilet seat that will wash her husband’s ass. What’s wrong with North American society? Why do people so fear the one perfect device that can guarantee their bum’s cleanliness? Despite its obvious and well-proven benefits, from personal hygiene to environmental, the integrated bidet toilet seat—which sprays a controlled stream of water from underneath the toilet seat at the push of a button—remains stubbornly off-putting to North Americans. Laugh all you want, but this has an impact on all of us.

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