Friday, January 06, 2006

Thoughts on a Different Subject

I read on another blog somewhere, this:

"It's amazing to me how many men don't wash their hands after using the restroom at the mall or other public places."

I confess I am sometimes one of those men. It depends on what I went in there to accomplish. If we're talking about going #1, then I may or may not wash up afterwards. I supposed it depends on whether there are other people in there at the time. If someone else is there, I will do a quick rinse afterwards, a kind of ritual hand-washing, not intended to sterilize my hands but to give the impression that I am being sanitarily consciensious. If we're talking about #2, then I will always wash my hands with a good scrubbing, the way a health nurse would teach.

Does this gross you out?

I think other guys understand why men might not wash. Women probably don't get it. Here's why:

I shower every morning before heading out for the day. I consider myself clean, even on my privates. I never put them where they don't belong, so I am not afraid of disease spreading. Going #1 is not inherently dirty. Urine is biologically sterile. I'm careful when I "go" so I don't have a problem with the flow going anywhere but where it is supposed to. Guys know that going #1 is basically a clean and simple operation for them, no fuss, no mess.

So where's the need for meticulous hand-washing afterwards?

Some will say its because you touch the handle when you flush. There is no reason to believe that the handle of a urinal is any more or less dirty than the handle on a car door, a door knob, or a telephone. In fact, its probably a lot cleaner. Bathrooms get scrubbed down with powerful disinfectants very frequently. Handles (or hands) in other places rarely get such a thorough cleaning.

There's always the valid reason that it just makes good sense to wash our hands frequently, and so we should take advantage of the opportunity when its convenient. That may be true. However, how many times has a person gone into a bathroom only to adjust clothing, check hair or make-up, and not washed their hands, even though its convenient?

I think the whole concept of hand washing after using the bathroom is part of the difference between men and women. Women were generally taught about their privates as being that non-descript place "down there" without really differentiating between one orifice and another. They were probably taught that this region is dirty, as a motivation to get them to learn to wash up afterwards. For women, going #1 and going #2 involve approximately the same amount of preparation, fuss, and clean-up.

Men are taught about their private orifices being more distinct and separate. Going #1 is no big deal; simple access, do the job and zip up, no wiping, quick and efficient. Going #2 involves more preparation, fuss and clean-up, so it stands apart as a distinct experience for men, with a much more dirtier connotation to it than going #1.

So, the emphasis on the need to wash hands after using the bathroom for men, at least speaking of going #1, is more of an objective standard (to pass public muster) than it is a subjective one (are my hands really contaminated?)

I believe hands are much more likely to become contaminated by simple contact with other surfaces and especially by other people's hands. How many times have you seen someone cough or sneeze into their hands and NOT rush off to wash them?

Now, just to give the ladies something more to be worried about: Men's urinals are usually not very well designed to prevent the dreaded "splash back." When we go #1, there is often some amount of spray that gets deposited on our pants, usually in the area between the crotch and the knees. Its not much, but there can be a fine mist left behind. I don't know of ANY men who rush home and change their pants after going #1 because of a little splash back. Its something we don't think about - and its probably something that women have never even considered! So, instead of worrying about our hands, perhaps you should be more worried about our pants instead!

Here, this ought to really gross you out: How often are you concerned about the cleanliness of the bottoms of your shoes? You walk through all kinds of spittle, feces, urine, tobacco juice, animal hair, organic matter, etc. etc. and it gets all over the bottoms of your shoes, more so if your shoes have any kind of pattern on them. Do you scrub the bottoms of your shoes as often or as thoroughly as you wash your hands?

Then you go home and walk on your floors and carpets with those same dirty shoes. Then you, your kids or your pets lay down on those filthy, contaminated floors and roll around in it. Ewwww! Before you critize someone like me for not washing their hands after urinating, check your own soles for cleanliness!

Enough on this topic! I'm washing my hands of it, ... er, getting it off my chest...

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