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DominicX's avatar

[Possibly NSFW] Is the Western-style "sitting" toilet inferior?

Asked by DominicX (28706 points ) March 9th, 2012

So, I know this is an awkward topic, but I think it’s relevant. :)

My friend, who is Indian and grew up in India, was telling me that they use squat toilets there and he was complaining that the conventional Western-style “sitting” toilet makes it harder to “go” and that it puts a person in an unnatural position for evacuation of the bowels.

Is this true? Could the Western world ever embrace squat toilets? I was reading that even in places like Turkey, which have traditionally used a kind of squat toilet, Western-style toilets are becoming more prevalent.

It just seemed odd to me that we’re all using this inferior method of going to the bathroom and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon.

Just some Friday night drunken musings…

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33 Answers

Aethelflaed's avatar

Yes, your Indian friend is correct. He wins 1000 points.

Somehow, though, I doubt we’ll change (or, at least, within the next century). Since we tend to think that we’re the epitome of progress and development, and those other guys don’t really have anything to offer us, toilet design seems remarkably low on the list of ideas we might ever import.

DominicX's avatar

Yeah, that’s what I thought. I almost find that people think the squat toilet is somehow “gross” because it’s that hole in the ground and the sitting toilet is somehow more “refined” or something. Even if it is an inferior method…

But yeah. The West is probably not going to be embracing that any time soon…

Sunny2's avatar

Women wearing 4 inch heels would find it difficult to squat. In the places where they have squat toilets I think most women wear flat heeled shoes.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I choose the sitting toilet. If you have ever actually seen a squatter in a public place they are so nasty—pee is everywhere and, well, no thanks!!!!!!!

ragingloli's avatar

Let me put it this way, I do not like the thought of poo running down my legs.

Bellatrix's avatar

It is true. I remember watching a TV program about weight loss where the doctor told the person who was trying to lose weight and whose bowel motions were messed up after years of a crap diet that they should sit on the loo but that they should have a foot stool in front of it to put them into a more squat like pose to try to help them go.

Ponderer983's avatar

@Sunny2 Actually, I find it easier to squat in heels.

People with leg problems, especially knee and ankle, would have a tough time with this.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I get the feeling not everyone is getting the position correct. This is a squat toilet. This is the squat position. These are some ancient squat toilets from Rome, and the guy on the left is using it correctly, while the guy on the right is not.

Bellatrix's avatar

We have to have signs in our toilets at work to show people from certain parts of the world how to sit on the toilet rather than squatting. Western toilets aren’t really designed for squatting and at times, if someone has not managed to aim properly…. well, anyone for a paddle? Gross.

ratboy's avatar

@Aethelflaed, is the middle figure in the last picture defecating in his clothing?

Aethelflaed's avatar

I actually tend to get more of a squat position at home, mostly because my bathroom is teeny enough that I can put one foot on the bathtub edge and one on the trashcan.

@ratboy Lol, no, because it’s in the context of Ancient Roman toilets, that’s just supposed to be Ancient Roman Dude Being Roman.

ratboy's avatar

I find it more difficult to read squatting, but I have this for “hard times.”

Aethelflaed's avatar

@ratboy That’s awesome.

DominicX's avatar

@ratboy Ideally, I’d have something like that if I weren’t so afraid of all the embarrassing judgment :P

Jeruba's avatar

The guy in @Aethelflaed‘s second link above is shown here using a different type of toilet. I have an idea you ought to take your drawers all the way off first (and what, drop them on the floor?).

rooeytoo's avatar

I became aware of the squatting toilets during my first trip to Seoul and I was amazed. I was younger then and could “assume the position” without too much trouble. Now many years later I am thrilled that many more western type toilets are in use. These old knees just don’t like the deep squats anymore! When my knees still worked, I never found them to be any less sanitary or clean than a western toilet.

I have read that the squat position is more conducive to elimination than the sitting position. Given the current obesity epidemic though, I can’t see it catching on in the west!

augustlan's avatar

I wish I could remember what country this was in, but I’ve heard that modern public squat toilets in some touristy area now have a bar/handle you can hang on to with your hands to help the unfamiliar assume (and maintain) the position. That seems kind of ideal, to me.

rooeytoo's avatar

@augustlan – maybe a trapeeze hanging over it would work. An ice water bidet would probably help also.

harple's avatar

I think that indian clothing may be more suitable to squatting, or any clothing where the bulk of fabric can be raised above your waist rather than pushed round your ankles.

If I recall correctly, squat toilets are still prevelant at motorway services in France.

rooeytoo's avatar

@harple – that sounds logical but Asian males have always worn trousers, so I don’t think it would be relevant in that case anyhow.

harple's avatar

@rooeytoo ah – thank you!

Bent's avatar

I have a disability of my back and legs and squatting would be impossible for me. How do disabled people use squatting toilets in countries where there are no sitting ones?

cookieman's avatar

I’ve had the pleasure of using a public squat toilet twice. Once in Italy and once in China. Both times – nasty.

Aside from requiring some balance (which not everyone has), you’re likely to spray your legs or feet, and I found wiping from that position was difficult.

No thanks.

PS: My wife reminded me it was in Ravenna, Italy

Paradox25's avatar

I’ve heard of these toilets and squating is a healthier way to relieve yourself. However, it probably looks (and seems) inferior because it seems odd to us only. Maybe in a few thousand years, due to evolution, our bodies will eventually evolve so that our internal plumbing systems can adjust to sitting instead of squating. Joking.

ucme's avatar

No it’s not, sitting for shitting is….well, it just is.

fizzbanger's avatar

It definitely requires some leg strength. Also, from my own personal experience, I felt like I had to take one leg out of my shorts to avoid peeing all over them. There was pee everywhere. I felt like a cat.

Keep_on_running's avatar

With squat toilets it seems being fit is a prerequisite to shit. Western toilets are comfortable and cleaner, I think the benefits of them are over-blown.

filmfann's avatar

@ratboy Regarding this , depends.

HungryGuy's avatar

I’ve encountered countless squat toilets throughout Europe (they seem to be prevalent in Italy, though that may just be coincidence from where I’ve had to “go”). I know, objectively, that squatting is healthier than sitting. But I find it really uncomfortable. You have to exert your ankle muscles to balance yourself, and that makes it harder for me to “go” than just sitting and pushing it out. Plus, as @MollyMcGuire pointed out, public loos with squat toilets mean you have to risk touching your bum to a filthy floor.

janbb's avatar

It is quite uncomfortable to use a squat toilet on a boat in a pitching sea when you have salmonella. Don’t ask me how I know.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That would give the old folks a lot of trouble, I’d think.

How do you know @janbb?! ;)

woodcutter's avatar

Never noticed evac problems due to the porcelain roost. How could it get much easier? And what of reading material… like, I can’t see that possible when squatting.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I envision having a baby if I think of using the bathroom that way. I envision my insides bearing down, with nothing to counteract it..

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