To sit or to squat?
The "sit toilet bowl" was invented during the industrial revolution in Europe to solve their worsening sewerage problems brought about by its growing population. The device in effect made the process of doing the number 2 (Big one) private and out of sight. In conjunction with the 'flushing" system, it very quickly replaced the universal squat method naturally used by every human being in the world before the mid 19th century.
It has taken almost 200 years before this invention reached Shenzhen International Airport in China. In the toilet at this Airport, amongst all the squat cubicles there is one such "sit" toilet, and that cubicle is clearly marked "for weak only".
Given that the Chinese has mastered the art of introducing / imitating the developed world's products, why has it taken so long before this "sit" toilet made its way to Shenzhen?
Perhaps they know something the "sit toilet" world never knew.
According to a report by Science News Online (Feb 2003), fecal stagnation is the leading contributor to colon cancer, the major killer disease in the west. The report went on to say that the sitting posture whilst in the toilet constricts the colon, preventing a complete discharge of waste from the body causing inflammation of the bowels.
However, colon cancer is rare in the developing world and the report further suggests that the reason might be related to the squatting position as it is nature's way of fecal discharge, naturally used by majority of the non-western world.
So next time we see those "starting blocks" flanking the "hole in the ground" in Shenzhen International Airport, or anywhere else in our travels in China, you now know why it has taken so long to have sit toilets in the country. Perhaps instead of seeing it as a yet-to-be developed part of the nation, see it as a product of the nation's wisdom from its 5,000 years of culture.
Perhaps now after almost 200 years there is a reverse osmosis when it comes to westernisation of China. It has taken a smart graduate from London's Royal College of Art to realise why the western sit toilet has so much resistance in China. The Chinese instinctively know that humans are not anatomically meant to sit when eliminating. This graduate re-invented the Squat/Sit toilet. He called it the Penseur, a sit toilet that positions the user in a 'squat' position.
Its about time sit toilets are re-assessed. In today's Apple'lised society, 200 years is indeed a long time to keep using the same product.