Most Americans are not familiar with the
unique "fourth" bathroom fixture, long an essential in the sophisticated homes
and hotels of Paris, Rome, Caracas and Rio. It's called the Bidet (pronounced Bee-Day) and
may be described as a little bath to sit in.
It appears that the Bidet
had its origin in France. It was comprised of a simple encased receptacle
used to hold the water and supported in a portable wooden stool. The
name "Bidet" originally meant small horse. French Cavaliers
desirous of bathing but having little time to do so, were indeed thankful
for the original version of the Bidet. It permitted partial bathing
of those body parts which were in close contact with their saddles.
The Bidet is almost always placed beside the
bathroom toilet (as illustrated above) and is actually a form of lavatory. It provides
convenient facilities for intimate personal cleansing of the rectal and genital areas of
the human body usually not accessible for washing when fully dressed. It is the most
significant innovation for personal hygiene and sanitation since the introduction of
indoor plumbing itself.
The chief purpose of the Bidet
is to maintain for the user a constant state of cleanliness after each
use of the toilet. The Bidet should be considered a hygienic necessity
rather than a luxury or status symbol. Daily use of the Bidet should
become as conventional as brushing one's teeth.
After elimination, it is impossible to cleanse
the rectal/vaginal areas with dry toilet paper. Warm water is obviously a better cleansing
agent than the softest, prettiest or costliest toilet paper available. Any family
laundress or personal valet can testify to this statement.
Toilet paper has been perfumed, decorated in
color, sterilized and made antiseptic, but nevertheless, it is still dry paper and only a
step better in evolutionary improvement than the pages of the mail order catalogue or the
barbaric plantain leaf.
If it is routine to wash one's hands after
using the toilet, is it even not more logical to wash one's bottom? Babies always have
their bottoms washed clean, powdered and pampered. However, upon graduating from infancy
to the stage of self reliant childhood, they are permitted to revert to the medieval
custom of wiping and dry toilet paper. American parents are solely responsible for
depriving their children of the appropriate guidance and education on this subject.
Perhaps this is the result of the Puritanical American culture and heritage handed down
through the years.
Most Americans are reluctant
to talk about the matters which Bidets are concerned with. Many people
look upon the Bidet with ridicule, thinking it is reserved for Parisiennes
of doubtful virtue*, solely for feminine hygiene (douche bowl), or for
prophylactic purposes (birth control). The latter is obviously not accomplished
with plain water washing. Some misinformed Americans maintain that if
people take enough baths or showers they do not need the Bidet. It should
be realized that the Bidet is not a competitor of the bathtub or stall
shower, but an adjunct-auxiliary-facility.
It is truly amazing that although
American plumbing manufacturers produce more Bidets than manufacturers
in any other country, these same Bidets are exported away from the very
people who believe that they lead the world in personal cleanliness
and hygiene habits. It appears incredible that the modern American who
spends so many billions of dollars on cosmetics, drugs, and various
other personal care preparations annually, as compared to similar expenditures
for physicians' services, should be so concerned about fastidious daintiness
and well being for 98% of his body, when for the better part of each
24 hours he blissfully ignores his invisible but nevertheless soiled