25 May 2012

To bidet or not to bidet


Society nowadays is often debating various divisive issues, that generate controversy, lead to radical positions and heated tempers, incite hatred and even violence among people. Gay couples, should they be allowed to get married? Euthanasia, should it be permitted? Drug use, should it be unsanctioned? Football, is it the one you play with your feet or the one you play with your hands? Issues like these divide the population in half with each half hating the other, and that's how the world goes forward. Well it's about time someone puts one more divisive subject on top of the table: the Bidet, is it really necessary in our bathrooms?

Photo: Chell Hill
Is there a referendum about this? Well there should certainly be one, in my opinion. But before that, a bit of history so we can properly frame this subject. First of all, the word bidet comes from the French and means pony. And nobody talks about this, gentlemen. People should talk about this. Because what really happens is that people don't simply sit on the bidet, they actually mount the bidet. With one leg at each side, like mounting a horse. It is said that the first bidet was ordered by the queen of France, circa 1710, which was troubled by not having a place to wash her private parts. Since then its use has proliferated, with more and more women rejoicing themselves for being able to mount the vessel.

Over time the bidets went from the rooms to the bathrooms, were changed to match the toilet style, started having mild warm water and, more recently, little vertical jets of water that hit you right in the area that you pretend to... aaaa... wash. I mean, I don't know if you can see the course that this story's taking, it is true that officially the bidet is only for the hygiene of the lower parts of the body, but to me it's starting to seem more an instrument of pleasure than hygiene! This is outrageous!

There are two important questions to raise here. The first question is if the bidet is really necessary. I live in a house without a bidet and I don't miss it. Some of my colleagues, both male and female, that I consulted on the matter, also say that they don't use it very often. Besides that, my sources tell that bidets are not used in the north of Europe that much, although they are present in most Portuguese and Italian households. The second question is why does the bidet appear to be an instrument used exclusively by women. I mean, if the container already exists, it can be equally useful to us men, in certain circumstances! I grew up thinking that the bidet was a unisex device, that served both men and women with equal rights. And yet, all the tiny details, the small inovations like the little vertical jets or adjustable faucet sprays, have little to no use to men. Is this really something that women need so badly? 

It is certainly a highly essential device according to the greatest authority in bidets that I know, which is: my father. I don't know exactly how he knows, but my father knows for sure that any house with women inside has to have a bidet. And for that he gave me two pieces of evidence:

Exhibit number 1: my father had a bidet installed in one of the office bathrooms at his company. One day he asked me if I was using the women's room.

- What do you mean, the women's room? - I asked, surprised.
- Haven't you been using the bathroom on the right?
- Yes...
- So, that's the women's room.
- But there isn't any sign saying that it's the women's room.
- But there's a bidet on that one.
- Whaaaaat?

Why the hell does the bathroom become exclusive to women just because it has a bidet inside? Why exactly aren't men allowed to use it? And why do women need that bidet thing so desperately? Besides, I've asked some women if they would ever use the bidet in the office and everyone told me they wouldn't, so I don't know what that thing is doing there.

Exhibit number 2: my father decided to remodel a warehouse that he uses to throw lunch and dinner parties, and part of the remodeling was done in the bathroom, which was very simple before and became a fully featured bathroom, with shower and everything. And as part of that, he decided to take out the urinol and put on a bidet.

And this really gets me angry. He took off the urinol, that one a useful and frequently used device, that one a hygienic device that allows rapid bladder relief without splashing the entire area surrounding the toilet, that one a device that should exist in every bathroom, to place a bidet?! A bidet in a space used only for parties? If the bidet is used twice in a year it's too many times already!

Therefore, my friends, it is time we all make a stand. Let's admit that we are no longer in the XVI century, and that this atrocity that pollutes our bathrooms is already completely outdated. I dream of the day when each and every bidet in our bathroom is replaced with an urinol, those would be beautiful times. The subject needs to be discussed at once. The debate on the bidet must be put on the table! To bidet or not to bidet, that is the question!

(versão portuguesa)