Rose George is the author of an unusual book entitled The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters. (2008, Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Company)
According to George, the world may be divided into the two ways we cling to toilet habits: Some belong to the paper culture, some to the water culture.
The Japanese were once paper people who, after years of persuasion, have become water people.
There are now 20 million "Washlets" in Japan – a toilet that offers a warm seat, a cleaning spray, and a waft of warm air to gently dry the essentials.
George takes all this very seriously. For more on her work about the issues of human waste around the world, read this article in a recent issue of the Toronto Star. She quotes a survey conducted by an Oxfordshire doctor who examined the underpants of local men and found fecal contamination in nearly all of them.
George writes in her book: "Anthropologists and sociologists should be infesting public bathrooms. There's nothing else in human society quite like them. Not in society, not quite out of it. Needed, but rarely demanded. A place where all sorts of human needs and habits intersect: fear, disgust, conversation, grooming, sex ... To be uninterested in the public toilet is to be uninterested in life."
Quebeckers and the toilet
We haven’t come across much data on this rather private aspect of Quebeckers’ lives. However, one survey about facial tissue usage suggests Quebeckers differ from other Canadians in the type of paper they use.
Asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement “Facial tissues are always a good substitute for bathroom tissues”, 24% Canadians agreed. Quebeckers were significantly more likely to agree at 31%.
Asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement “I often use bathroom tissue in place of facial tissue”, 25% Canadians agreed. Quebeckers were the least likely to agree at 19%.
Conclusion: Quebeckers are more likely to treat their bums the same way they treat their sensitive noses.