Every Valentine’s Day I wonder if I should feel bad I don’t have a significant (or even insignificant) other to spend the holiday with. I’m growing older, and it’s time I stop thinking of only myself. It’s time I start thinking about my butt.
I’m newly 23. Is it time to suck it up and embrace adulthood and the warm blast of water on my Alanis Morissette every time I use the toilet?
I’m hesitant. A bidet is a lot like a Valentine. If not handled correctly, it can be a hot pain in the ass — or a sudden spray when you least expect it.
Friends older than me are obsessed with owning a bidet (and a headboard) as a marker of adulthood. But I’ve never understood if the reward merited the cost. Last October, my roommate Nick was gifted a bidet, and suddenly I was forced to address my aversion to the bathroom appliance. Not to mention he kept… tweeting… about… poop.
Our bidet comes courtesy of Tushy, a bathroom lifestyle company founded by Canadian entrepreneur Miki Agrawal. Tushy did not pay me to write this. The company’s growth marketing director, Andy Stone, is a friend of Nick’s, and he gifted our apartment a bidet that retails for $100. Nick and I became part of a marketing campaign targeting extremely online queer people like ourselves. In fact, Nick was targeted precisely because of all his ass content. “Nick tweets about poop a lot. He doesn’t shy away from it. Someone who is not afraid of those conversations, that’s our ideal brand ambassador,” Stone tells me.
Is Tushy a queer brand? Stone is hesitant to categorize it as such, noting they also run campaigns for pregnant women. But as a member of the queer community himself, Stone says it made sense to get on the radar of men obsessed with their assholes, anal sex and anything else related to their butts.
Gay porn star and bottoms right activist @DamagedBttm was also gifted a Tushy, and he’s enjoying it. “My butthole has gotten so much softer. No more friction or irritated skin from toilet paper,” he tells me. Need confirmation? “Tops have noticed and told me.”
Even Nick says he’s a fan of the Tushy attachment in our bathroom, though our model doesn’t heat up the cold water. “Honestly, it’s kinda nice to have ice water soothing me after a particularly heavy poop,” he says.
I disagree. And so does our female roommate. Neither of us uses the Tushy. While there’s certainly a market for bidets, it’s always felt to me like a novelty bathroom accessory. A bidet — and the European aura it evokes — does not go with our dingy Brooklyn apartment’s aesthetic. Both Nick and @DamagedBttm both admitted that a bidet wasn’t a necessity. They didn’t think they’d ever own one.
The history of the bidet stateside is fraught. First appearing in France in the 1600s, they’ve never become more than a novelty appliance in the U.S. My colleague Andrew Fiouzi, who was raised by two Iranian immigrants, had a bidet in his Southern California childhood home. “Before my first day of kindergarten, I was under the impression that every toilet came equipped with some sort of adjacent water shooting apparatus. In fact, it wasn’t until that fateful first day that I realized just how savage Americans really are,” he writes.
But bidets are on the rise, including portable bottle bidets and toilet attachments like mine. In 2017, Agrawal told Fox News there was a 40 percent increase in sales for Tushy. Bidets can be a welcome utility for retirees and the disabled. One person on Twitter even asked me for a recommendation on a bidet for their handicapped mother who suffered a stroke.
Bidets are also hailed as sustainable and decreasing toilet paper consumption. “Like, one square per poop. Maybe two if you don’t get it all with the bidet the first time,” Damaged says of his toilet paper usage now that he’s a proud bidet owner.
Tushy is also marketing bidets as a pseudo-civic duty. To be a bidet user is to be a good American, they argue. “You’re helping the environment and your municipality. It’s easier on the sewers and it’s easier on your body,” Stone says. After all, aggressive TP use can cause hemorrhoids, produce a high carbon footprint and rack up a never-ending cost.
Is environmentalism actually driving bidet sales, or is it the novelty factor? For some, a bidet is a little splash of self-care, a quick fix to feeling fancy. For others, it’s a statement piece, an easy way to signify you care about your health and wellness so much that you go out of your way to optimize your toilet. Even my college journalism professor told me on Twitter she loves her bidet, writing, “I wasn’t keen on getting a bidet. My husband is the one who insisted on buying it. Our Toto bidet toilet might be the most expensive item purchased for our house.”
Other bidet owners I spoke with also pushed back on my reluctance to consider a bidet a necessity. “It’s literally just a sanitation and cleanliness thing,” Alex Modiano, 21, tells MEL. His boyfriend purchased the Tibbers Home Bidet, the No. 1 bestseller on Amazon, which at $30 is cheaper than a Tushy. “Because Americans are weirdly preoccupied with and afraid of things below the belt, they’re running around with shit in their pants.” He’s not wrong. There’s even a medical condition for people who are terrible at wiping their butts: polished anus syndrome.
I write a lot about why queer people and their butts need more respect. So maybe it’s time I investigate my own aversion to a product claiming to clean my butt. In fact, it might be cheaper to invest in a bidet before sex than repeatedly buying $27 Pure for Men fiber supplements, another product marketed specifically to gay men.
That hole deserves a little TLC, boys. Long live Shit Dick Summer.