Home > Anthropology, Education > An Anthropological Look at How the World Wipes

An Anthropological Look at How the World Wipes

I’m middle eastern, y’all. Though I’m American born and raised, there are still cultural aspects of my life that most mainstream white folk will never understand. Like the way middle easterners wipe their butts.

I guess wiping isn’t the best description, as it’s more of a washing of the butt via the “aftabeh.” This is essentially a pitcher filled with water left near the toilet. We use it after pooping. Our butts get super clean. The best feature of the aftabeh is that it eliminates dingleberries–no left over toilet paper in the crack to worry about.

This got me thinking of different cultures and various ways people clean excrement off their bottoms. We know of the bidet–tre European and quite effective. What butt doesn’t like it’s very own personalized shower?

Some cultures are less fancy. Like in certain parts of India, people straight up use their hands to wipe their butts. They wash the poop off in a bucket of water and their hand is good as new again.

In America, we stick with toilet paper. I’m a big fan of 2 ply–I need to cushy stuff. Yet if I’m being totally honest, someone who poops several times a day like me needs more back up than just regular TP. Full disclosure: my butt will often stink after several poops assisted by toilet paper wipes. So I’ve had to make the full switchover to baby wipes. It’s the only thing that keeps my behind from stinking. Bad for the earth, I know. But it’s essential for the health of my social life and sanity. 

I’d love to compile a more exhaustive list of wiping culture. So I commission you: fellow bloggers, how do you wipe your butts? Don’t be shy, this is in the name of fecal anthropology. Thank you.

  1. Kana Tyler
    October 12, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    I’m remembering Poland (“Iron Curtain” days), where there were wood-chips visible in the TP… And the Philippines, where I was initially baffled by the small water-pitchers by the toilets. (Motivated by the lack of TP, I gamely tried to wash up this way, but mostly succeeded in getting myself wet–and eventually took to carrying Kleenex in my pockets…) You’ll appreciate the comment by my sister (then age 7) after a several-month sojourn through the push-buttons, pull-chains, foot-pedals, and other toilet-designs of Europe: “I can flush in any language!” 🙂

    • October 12, 2011 at 11:34 pm

      That is amazing information Kana. Wood chips? Amazing!

  2. HuPhlungPu
    October 13, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Kana, that’s rad! Your sis is a wise one indeed!

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