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Oto-Hime (Sound Princess)

Okay, this is the second time I’ve heard about a fake flushing-sound device installed in womens’ toilets in Japan.. You push the button when you’re having a bowel movement, and nobody hears the sound of what happens when you do what you’re doing.

The reporter comments:

Such gadgets might seem a dainty, modern excess of a shame-obsessed society, but the Sound Princess has deep roots in Japanese culture.

The Japanese are notoriously fastidious: the daily bath is practiced with near-religious fervor, and walking inside with your shoes on is considered filthy. The Japanese word for clean —”kirei”—also means beautiful.
And what happens in a bathroom stall is, well, among the dirtiest things that humans do.

Going to the toilet has been considered embarrassing and even shameful for women since ancient times in Japan, said Noriji Suzuki, a parasitologist at Kochi University Medical School.

“Sometimes you see people talking to each other over a stall in Western countries, but that would never happen in our culture,” he said.

The trend is not limited to women these days. Some schools have done away with urinals because boys are increasingly too embarrassed to use the stalls, since going there would tell onlookers exactly what’s going to happen next.

Well, now, as far as fearing to use urinals, I know some foreign men who feel that way in Korea (outisde Seoul, anyway) because half the time some Korean guy goes to the urinal beside you, even in an empty bathroom, to have a peek and see whether the myths he’s heard about gigantic white organs is true.

But more to my point, I think it’s crazy when women aren’t even allowed to poo in the presence of other women. I don’t want to go and decide Japanese culture is thoroughly bad or crazy, but come on. If men can comfortably take a dump around other men, then why can’t women? That reflects something bigger which is also very deeply ingrained and which, until it is overcome, will be a negative force in the lives of Japanese women. I hate to say so, but I’d say the same if it were North America, if it were Korea I am writing about. I’d say it about any place where women aren’t even allowed to make a sound when crap even when only other women who are crapping hear it; there’s just something not quite right about such a society’s aesthetics, I think it’s fair to say.

Found this on BigHominid’s page, and he apparently got it from Rathbone, who’s now no longer with us. In the blogging sense, not in the “he’s dead” sense or in the “now he’s against us” sense.

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