July 23, 2014

You don't know squat.

Last night, we were discussing that article in The Guardian about how everything in the bathroom is wrong, beginning — of course — with the toilet. The statement "our bodies were designed to squat" irked the commenters, beginning with Joe:
[Our] bodies weren't designed.
Some religionists may protest, and I got sidetracked into wondering if the Bible has anything to say about what sort of toilet we should be using. I found something in Deuteronomy (putting the doo in Deuteronomy):
"Choose a place outside the camp for a latrine. Include a spade among your equipment so that when you squat to relieve yourself, you can dig a hole and then cover your excrement. For the LORD your God is on the move within your camp to deliver you and to hand your enemies over to you. Therefore your camp must be holy so that he will not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you."
When you squat to relieve yourself... Aha! So God was picturing you squatting over a hole. If we are to believe Deuteronomy...

In a nonreligious mode, ken in sc said:
Only a person who has never tried to rise up from a squat on 60+ year-old knees would think our toilets are too high. They make adapters to make toilets even higher for semi-invalids.
This got me thinking that if the squatting position is better for many people, there's no need to install different toilets, just make some sort of stool that fits around the base of the toilets we already have to raise the feet to a higher position. I figured this must already exist, but I despaired at the prospect of Googling the word "stool" with "toilet," given the alternative meaning of "stool." I carefully constructed my search: footstool for toilet to make it more like a squat toilet.

Behold: The Squatty Potty.

And here's NPR nattering about squatting. Last paragraph:
For most people, the modern toilet doesn't cause any problems," [said Rebekah Kim, a colorectal surgeon at the Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders at Virginia Hospital Center]. But if you're to believe Slate's [Daniel] Lametti, squatting on top of the toilet could be a time-saver — he managed to drop his 10-minute routine down to a minute.
I was afraid to click on that last link. I really don't want to hear about some man's 10-minute routine. But I did, and I'm not sorry, because the illustration is so absurd — 2 men on side-by-side toilets, one much happier than the other. Lametti concludes that even though he "gained an hour over seven days," he still preferred the familiar chair-height toilet and doubted that squat toilets would be "the next back-to-nature craze—the new barefoot running shoe or caveman diet," mainly because "Americans, now fatter than ever, are having trouble standing up from a sit, never mind a squat." Lametti's a bit of an asshole, no?

56 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I really don't want to hear about some man's 10-minute routine.

If it takes 10 minutes, you need to wait a bit 'til the urge is more pressing.

Ten minutes? No way. Not unless there's a good book potty-side.

Balfegor said...

One thing which makes me grateful that I was born and raised in the USA is that I never had to use a squat toilet.

I am not about to begin now.

Lonetown said...

As a manager, a few years ago, I got a complaint from one female employee that another female employee (in a company with few female employees) was messing up the toilet by standing on the seat and squatting to use the facility.

needless to say, that was awkward.

Xmas said...

A man complaining about having a "10 minute routine" doesn't have a job where 10 minutes of quiet, contemplative time will do him a world of good.

Also, this thread is useless without getting into women's "Squat and Hover" technique and the general uncleanliness of women's public bathrooms caused by awkward squatting.

Ron said...

At least (in his mind) he's a squatting asshole!

Hagar said...

Back when, the Russians installed special squat toilets for Mao Tse-Tung when he visited Moscow. He insisted on it.

Rae said...

In many areas of the world people squat regularly, as a work position or simply to rest, not just to relieve themselves. Doing it from birth, they get quite good at it. Supposedly they have better backs and knees in old age because of it.

PB Reader said...

Most of the world still uses squat toilets. Travel to India, China, Southeast Asia...

Without chairs, for thousands of years, people squatted as a resting position as opposed to just standing around. It wasn't just ancient cavemen (or cave-women) or modern-day primitive peoples, it was normal for cowboys in the west. There was value in staying on your feet keeping the rest of your body off the ground and away from dampness and insects.

Special arrangements have ALWAYS been made for sleeping laying down.

Hagar said...

I have never understood it, but in the Army I found there were a goodly number of Americans that thought the latrine was a warm and friendly place from which to contemplate the injustice of their lives.

jimbino said...

I once severely sprained my ankle in Japan and then had to face one of their squat toilets that was nothing but two footpads and a hole.

Take it from me: you cannot squat so as to align the two holes with a sprained ankle.

I prefer the high throne. I'm convinced that low toilets are made to serve the interests of children, just like movies, TV shows and everything else in Amerika.

Will Cate said...

Back in 2005, my two sons and I accompanied a couple-dozen boy scouts on a 10-day canoe trip through the Quetico Wilderness of southwestern Ontario (just north of Ely, MN). Only primitive campsites, no outhouses, so we did precisely what Deuteronomy recommends.

We were also discouraged by our guide from using conventional toilet paper, as the large, velvety-smooth Broad Leaved Aster naturally supplanted its purpose.

After 10 days of squatting I was happy to return to a porcelain toilet.

Anonymous said...

"When you squat to relieve yourself... Aha! So God was picturing you squatting over a hole."

Kind of hard to sit on a freshly dug hole, get your rear end all muddy, no place to put your feet, a big smelly mess sticking on you when you're done. You can never wipe yourself clean, and the smell sticks with you.

Tank said...

File under fixing things that are not broken.

Ann Althouse said...

"As a manager, a few years ago, I got a complaint from one female employee that another female employee (in a company with few female employees) was messing up the toilet by standing on the seat and squatting to use the facility."

I doubt if she was standing on the seat. She was probably semi-standing over the seat in an effort to pee without coming into contact with the seat. This is something women who worry about toilet seat germs do. They don't do it well.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I've heard that in Korea they have bathrooms with a hole in the floor that you squat over. And there's this attraction: Toilet-Themed Amusement Park in South Korea

Squatting instead of sitting in a public restroom would remove the paranoia about germs on the toilet seat.

Anonymous said...

An unfortunate fellow named Hyde,
Once fell down a privy and died.
His luck-lacking brother,
then fell down another.
And now they're interred side-by-side.

Ann Althouse said...

To be fair to Deuteronomy's God, He wasn't dictating squatting over a hole as the right way to defecate, and it can't be said that this depicts God as failing to know that some day there would be plumbing and flush toilets.

Deuteronomy's God is inclined to assist the military, and He moves within the camp, so you need to make sure the excrement is elsewhere, so He won't turn away.

Fen said...

This reveals more than we think: typical nanny-state lefty at the Guardian thinks everyone should squat, because thats what he/she does. Never occurs to them that other people may have different needs. Tunnel vision.

surfed said...

While surfing - dismount your surfboard out past the breakers, extend your legs under your surfboard and reach across having each hand grab a big toe. This is the easiest most comfortable way to eliminate excrement ever to be experienced. And, as an added plus, you're delivering dinner to the shrimps below.

MikeR said...

The verse in Deuteronomy says nothing about squatting. The Hebrew is, b'shiv't'cha, which means, When you sit. It doesn't exclude squatting, but doesn't emphasize it either.

m stone said...

The second telling of the Law is quite illuminating and seems odd, but, to Woody Allen's dismay, there is a purpose, like our lives. Multiple.

The Law is meant to drive people to God (failure to measure up, it pricks our conscience and is a fount of wisdom on subjects like diet, relationships, conduct and morality. And we see the Law addresses many areas.

lgv said...

"I doubt if she was standing on the seat. She was probably semi-standing over the seat in an effort to pee without coming into contact with the seat. This is something women who worry about toilet seat germs do. They don't do it well."

Probably, but I remember operations that hired Vietnamese or Laotian workers had lots of broken toilet and toilet seats because the employees were standing on the toilet and squatting.

lgv said...

One issue with toilet seats too high is government regulation. ADA requirements for toilets and sinks can't be quite cumbersome. It is always easier to just buy a taller ADA commode.

Ralph Hyatt said...

During a road trip in Okinawa we stopped at a rest facility.

All of the toilets, save one were of the squat type. The one that was not was the handicapped stall.

There was no one else in the bathroom so I elected to use the type that I was accustomed to.

Within seconds an attendant appeared and began pounding on the door and yelling that the stall was for the handicapped.

That was awkward.

Uninterested Observer said...

10 minutes? Is he scooping it out by hand? I suggest Konsyl. It's fiberrific. And you can get it on Amazon (where Ann gets a cut of the action).

Bruce Hayden said...

This is something women who worry about toilet seat germs do. They don't do it well.

One of the few advantages to being a guy. We have urinals, and the mostly work decently well, and so don't have to sit in another guy's piss.

But, when I was an undergraduate, many decades ago, they had a relatively new dorm that went from co-ed floors to co-ed pods, and the restrooms appear to have had what we figured were urinals aimed at females. A little lower, and a lip sticking out. We could actually use them, and suspect that the young women mostly refused. Now, with co-ed dorms, and separate facilities, seems to be that a lot of guys don't bother with the men's room, when they have had a bunch to drink, and the women's room is closer.

Fernandinande said...

"Qualifications for Assembling
1a “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may participate in the assembly of the LORD."

Some assembly required, don't lose any parts.

Kieth Nissen said...

I wonder if that's where the term "shit heels" came from? people who were without the benefit of a dedicated toilet would tend to get some turd marks on their heels, right?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Hagar said...
Back when, the Russians installed special squat toilets for Mao Tse-Tung when he visited Moscow. He insisted on it.


7/23/14, 9:32 AM

Not too strange for Russians. Maybe half or more of their public restrooms are squat holes.

Phil said...

I suspect that 60 year old knees would more often be in condition to squat if they'd been doing it that way for 60 years.

Krumhorn said...

You haven't lived until you've seen an old Vietnamese lady take a full deep squat over the gutter of a city street with one foot up on the curb and both rump cheeks settled on her heels. She uses a finger to channel the urine flow in a tidy organized stream, and the poo plops like cow pies.

She's finished most ricky tick, gets up and continues down the street as if it's the natural thing in the world.

-Krumhorn

Big Mike said...

Lametti's a bit of an asshole, no?

Indeed, he seems to be a proctologist's dream -- a perfect asshole.

Just Mike said...

Marginally related warning by way of experience: If nature calls while you are out duck hunting be careful not to drop one in your waders.

Ann Althouse said...

"Within seconds an attendant appeared and began pounding on the door and yelling that the stall was for the handicapped."

You could have tried: I am handicapped; I'm an American.

But, really, Okinawa? Just say I'm an American, and let him be embarrassed. Let him say he's sorry.

jr565 said...

Behold: The Squatty Potty.

Your legs are too high on this. And your rear is too low. You should be positioned like a catcher on home plate, as if you are doing an actual squat exercise.
Your butt shouldn't actually be touching the seat.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"You could have tried: I am handicapped; I'm an American."

I did. Its the obvious comeback. He was not sympathetic.

Darrell said...

I thought Lefties crap on cop cars.

SchrefflerFamily said...

This explains to me why my potty-training almost-3-year old will poop on her floor potty but won't poop on the toilet, though she'll use it for other business.

RonF said...

Ten years ago I was in Japan. The default toilet there is a 6" hole in the floor. What we use here is called a "Western toilet" - and you can get them with heated seats and electronic controls for a bidet (flow, direction, temperature, etc.). Western toilets were no problem to find in the tourist areas, but it was a Boy Scout trip and we went into some non-tourist areas where this presented a challenge. The point about the stress on one's knees - especially for those of us who never squat - is well taken.

Anonymous said...

S.O.S. Slate, The Guardian, NPR etc.

Where do I shit? How do I shit?

Is my shitting ethical? Have the experts weighed-in on my shitting technique?

What does the latest science say?

Is it sacrilege to shit under a photo of the Kennedys?

Is there a large government pyramid or official-looking laminated charts that can help me shit?

What's everyone else doing? How do they shit? Am I shitting like a white person?

Should I pursue social justice and/or white guilt while shitting?

How do I live? What do I do?

MathMom said...

I have a client who started doing yoga about age 70. He is 82 now. When he wants to pay attention to something complex, he gets off the chair and squats. He can squat like that for a very long time, and when he wants to get up he springs up in a split second.

Amazing, really...

Smilin' Jack said...

"Choose a place outside the camp for a latrine. Include a spade among your equipment so that when you squat to relieve yourself, you can dig a hole and then cover your excrement. For the LORD your God is on the move within your camp to deliver you and to hand your enemies over to you. Therefore your camp must be holy so that he will not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you."

Dream on, doofus. God sees everything. You can't hide shit from God.

clint said...

I wonder how you'd distinguish "God turning away" because of the improper handling of excrement in a military camp from an outbreak of dysentery.

I also wonder how many squatty potties Amazon will be shipping to Althouse readers in the next few days.

Christy said...

A poor bathroom design came to my rescue twice in the last couple of years. We've a toilet facing the side of the sink instead of the center of the room. Came in handy after surgery on my lady parts when I could grab the sink and pull myself up off the toilet. Then again when I foolishly decided to do squats as my inaugural Tabatas and couldn't use my thighs for two weeks.

Lonetown said...

I doubt if she was standing on the seat. She was probably semi-standing over the seat in an effort to pee without coming into contact with the seat. This is something women who worry about toilet seat germs do. They don't do it well.

Keep hope alive, but that was not the claim.

Lonetown said...

Instapundit tells us via Mark Rippletoe that squatting is the way to go and the number 1 best exercise.

Bob said...

I notice the Squatty Potty has a "wide stance platform." They should try for the Larry Craig endorsement.

Really, though, that thing looks dangerous to use. Senior citizens would fall and break bones trying to use it.

SeanF said...

jimbino: Take it from me: you cannot squat so as to align the two holes with a sprained ankle.

Why would you want to align your ankle with the two holes?!

;)

SJ said...

@clint,

I wonder how you'd distinguish "God turning away" because of the improper handling of excrement in a military camp from an outbreak of dysentery.

That is a good question.

I wonder how many other nomadic desert dwellers had similar rules for handling excrement. And how many of these rules were credited to tribal-Deity/priests/religious-authority.

Krumhorn said...

Yes, I agree that this is a number 2 discussion, and Konsyl works great, but I'd give a great deal to know how I can pee like a teenager again...or is this TMI?

-Krumhorn

John said...

I spent the summer of 69 cruising the Mediterranean with an interesting group of people. (Haze gray and underway) You can see some pictures here http://www.greatsitkin.org/60Cruises7.html

We visited places like Spain, Naples, Malta, Gibralter, Greece. Other than the RN dockyard in Gibraltar and the NAVSTA Rota, I never saw a regular toilet. The classier places had ceramic squat toilets. These are a depression in the floor with 2 footpads and a hole.

A few of the less classy places had buckets.

You can see a picture of a squat toilet here. If you have never seen one and are relying on descriptions here, I think you have no idea what we are talking about.

Go look and then picture yourself using this.

http://www.passportandatoothbrush.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/French_Squatter_Toilet.jpg

And for Ann, here is a pic of a stool that you can use with your regular toilet.

http://lillipad.co.nz/Update/squatting%20toilet.jpg

John Henry

Al&Bea said...

A must read on this subject is "Flushed with Pride"-the story of Thomas Crapper by Wallace Reyburn

Thomas Crapper invented the flush toilet

John said...

When I was in the Navy some of the older ships still has the old style crappers. These looked like a 55 gallon drum split in half but perhaps 10' long. There were pins every couple feet and wooden slats that fit over the pins. No partitions, crapping was very intimate. You also got to inspect your shipmates turds as they floated past. "Hey, that was a nice one, Potch."

Flushing was from one end to the other. Invariably there would be some douchebag that would light a wad of toilet paper and let it float downstream under the other occupants. Very funny if watching, very annoying if sitting.

Yes, I have seen and used my share of non-standard toilets. Give me a good old American toilet any day.

John Henry

John said...

Speaking of handicapped toilets, what is the etiquette there? I am a fairly large quy and like to take a wide stance when crapping. I find that a regular stall can be confining. If nobody is around I use the handicapped stall. (I do leave my shirt on)

Is that wrong?

And the comments reminded me of a curb your enthusiasm eipsode where Larry has a run-in with a guy who has a handicapped plate but looks normal. Naturally Larry has to give him a hard time. Turns out his handicap was a stutter.

Does he get to use the handicapped bathroom?

John Henry

MayBee said...

Older people who grew up with squatters will stand on the toilet seats in the US. It was a familiar joke when we lived in Asia that you knew you'd lived there too long if you found your own footprints on your toilet seat at home

Squatting is awful because there is almost nothing to do with your pants, underwear, or tights. The crotch kind of hangs in the path of the urine stream. Balancing in heels can be tricky. Dresses hang down to the floor which is (in China) often filthy.

Anonymous said...

A post about squatting and excrement and Althouse fails to mention "The Guy Who Poops in the Hall?"