It's not easy to find statistics on the number of bidets in American homes, perhaps because they remain uncommon. About 22 percent of bathroom designers saw requests for bidets in 2015, according to research by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, but that group skews towards higher-end markets. Kohler has seen demand for its "intelligent toilets" grow 50 percent year over year for the past three years, but a study the company conducted last year found that 53 percent of Americans were still unwilling to use a bidet, says media representative Katie Dilyard.Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of homes in Spain, Italy, and Greece have a bidet. And about 60 percent of Japanese households have high-tech washlet toilets with features like spraying and air drying, reports Justin Thomas of Metaefficient.com, and the country's cabinet office includes Toto-style washlets among the penetration rates it tracks for consumer goods."I find it rather baffling that millions of people are walking around with dirty anuses while thinking they are clean," George says. "Toilet paper moves shit, but it doesn't remove it. You wouldn't shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?""I think we owe it to the English," says Harvey Molotoch, a New York University professor and author of Toilets: Public Restrooms and the Politics of Sharing. "So many of the conventions of American life come from the British."
"Toilet paper moves shit, but it doesn't remove it. You wouldn't shower with a dry towel; why do you think that dry toilet paper cleans you?"
Living among the squeamish in Canada and the US are people of Muslim and Hindu backgrounds who are the satisfied owners of far cleaner butts than the rest of us.
"A bidet signals some secret dirtiness," Molotoch says. "You don't want to reveal to anyone that you have done anything that would require special measures of sanitation because you live such a clean life."How did the polite-as-hell Japanese come to embrace their butt-cleaning technology so wholeheartedly? "Japanese people are very circumspect and do not speak of intimate things, but the Japanese are super straightforward about the toilet," Molotoch says.
It seems our deeply ingrained ideas about sanitation and fears about appearing somehow unclean actually work against the adoption of the bidet.
Shit talk has, of course, also finally made it to North America. In the past couple years we all watched, mesmerized, as a unicorn shat rainbow soft-serve into a toilet courtesy of the folks at Squatty Potty. A fetching redhead with a proper English accent and a poufy dress defecated unapologetically in front of the camera in a spot about Poo-pourri (a product that nonetheless plays upon our squeamishness about the way our shit smells). And like in Japan, we are also embracing cute feces. Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, the star of the holiday episode for South Park, is equal parts gross and adorable. And the smiling poop emoji has of course made its way from being a funny thing to send in a text to a bonafide mascot: you can now buy phone cases covered in the little guy and a stuffed version to keep on your bed, among other items. A report on emoji use published by Swiftkey in 2015 found that bidet-averse Canadians are the smiling poop emoji's biggest global fans.
In the past couple years we all watched, mesmerized, as a unicorn shat rainbow soft-serve into a toilet courtesy of the folks at Squatty Potty.