Everyone has those character assessing questions they ask new friends once they get comfortable enough to do so: do you keep ketchup in the fridge or the cupboard? How much milk do you have in your tea? That sort of thing. Mine is this: do you stand up to wipe your bum or do you do it sitting down? Arguably, this tells you absolutely nothing about the other person. What it is guaranteed to do, however, is spark a debate. Those on either side of the fence find themselves weirdly passionate about their preferred wiping position because nobody wants to admit they’ve been shitting wrong their whole life.
To clarify, I’m a sitter. I’ve always been a sitter. When researching this highly professional and groundbreaking piece, I went to the source of my wiping to see if I was taught to wipe my ass sitting down or standing up. My mam, as she says about a lot of my work, asked, “Why are you even writing about that???” before clarifying that she stays sitting for her wipes and taught me to do so during toilet training too.
Those less determined to hold onto the lessons of childhood, their mother and their familial wiping techniques, say that making the switch for a different wiping position has been revolutionary. “I used to wipe standing up,” wipe convert Jacob tells me, “Now I couldn’t imagine standing up. I mentioned standing to wipe once in front of a group of people and they looked at me like I was an absolute demon. Obviously I said I was joking, but I wasn’t. After changing my ways I do think it's a lot cleaner sitting down.”
The superiority of the sit-down wipe comes from, as far as I see it, that your ass cheeks are spread and not pressed together, which logically would press any poo particles against your skin more. Ardent standing ambassador Elli, however, says standing feels cleaner. “I’ve always felt outcast as a stander but I just like having more room to sort yourself out,” she explains. “I don’t wanna be all hunched over and unable to reach properly.”
Eve, a user of both the standing and sitting methods, agrees with Elli. “I used to not understand why you would need to stand up and wipe but sometimes I do it now just to make sure I’ve got every bit and it’s made an improvement to my routine,” she describes. When asked about the cheek spreading conundrum, Eve divulges that she will “spread my legs as I lift up and bend over for the standing wipe. I need to pull the cheeks apart when standing, but I always do it as a after sit down wipe so the majority excess has been removed.”
With both sides making stellar arguments for how best to clean shit off yourself, it felt important to seek out an expert opinion on the (faecal) matter. Surprisingly, apart from the age old advice to wipe front to back, there is little expert opinion on the internet about preferred shit wiping stances. In an interview with Metro Parent, however, Dr. Jacqueline Metz of Southfield Pediatrics recommends when potty training it is “usually easier for children to reach their bottoms when standing up” but in adulthood “people can wipe sitting down or standing up, depending on what is easiest for them.”
Marie, who is currently potty training her own daughter, currently uses the stand up method too. “When we wipe her bum, we ask her to stand up as we find we can get a better angle and ensure the whole area is clean.” Marie continues, “But when it comes time to teach her to wipe herself completely alone, I reckon we’ll teach her to do it while sitting down — as this is what both her dad and I do. We find it comfier than the stand-up wipe.” Essentially, the arguments of standing versus sitting boil down to what is easiest for the person wiping.
But Harrison, who was presumably taught the standing up method during potty training, said he didn’t even know sitting down was an option until he “saw a tweet saying ‘if you stand up to wipe you’re vile’ or something along those lines.” Just like Jacob, Harrison converted to the sit down system soon after. “I feel like I’ve really wasted my life not giving me crack the wipe it deserves.” Harrison continues, “You can’t wipe properly stood up, end of. The cheeks are closed and the damage is done.”
Just like the great debates of whether a bacon sandwich needs buttering (it doesn’t) or if pizza is better cold (it isn’t), the dookie wiping discussion comes down to personal preference. At the end of the day, as long as your arsehole is clean it doesn’t matter which way you’re reaching it.