Meme Debunking #3: Wash your damn hands!

This may come as a surprise to the non-penised among you, but there’s a meme among penis-possessors regarding the necessity of washing one’s hands after urinating. I’ve encountered it since junior high, but it’s probably best expressed here:

The boiled-down logic goes something like this: if I wash my penis in the morning, don’t pee on my hands, and don’t touch anything but my already-cleaned penis in the bathroom, then why should I have to wash my hands afterward? That would just expose me to the further germs on the faucet handle and soap dispenser. More scientifically-savvy non-washers might also note that urine is sterile, and so even a little dribble on your fingers might just cause you to smell a little bad.

The reasoning seems valid, and I think that’s a lot of why people are compelled to accept this argument. I also assume that some people don’t want to wash their hands for whatever reason, and this is a convenient way to support that preexisting position. Frankly, I wash my hands so often that the CDC considers me a key factor in the development of resistant bacterial strains, so I don’t get the appeal.

Here’s where I see the problem: next time you meet someone who doesn’t wash and offers this excuse, ask them if they’d say the same thing about their hair, or their feet, or their armpit. “I washed my feet and armpits in the shower this morning, and ever since then, they’ve been enclosed in clean clothes. Why should I wash my hands after touching my feet and/or armpits?” Ask them if they’d be okay with their waiter or cook using that logic when changing before a shift. I haven’t done the polling, but I suspect they’d probably be a little uneasy with that prospect.

And that’s because we spend a lot more time thinking about and dealing with the normal functions of sock-and-shoe-clad feet and clothed armpits: namely, sweating. The armpits are a crevice containing a rich network of sweat glands and, unless you’re a swimmer or otherwise depilated, a bunch of hair. Feet tend to be less hairy where it counts, but have similar crevices between toes, have an abundance of sweat glands as well, and tend to often be contained in tight-fitting cotton coverings. Sweaty crevices are pretty much the Garden of Eden for bacteria growth, and hair and tight cloth have the added effect of holding sweat close to the skin and keeping those dark creases consistently moist. Which is why we apply antiperspirant to our armpits and hate it when our socks get wet. I know that the feeling of sweat-pruned feet is among the most disgusting things I experience in the course of normal living.

And yet, some people are quite willing to consider the penis to be pure and pristine after a long day of the same activities that cause sweaty armpits and toe jam. I hate to break it to you, folks, but the crotch has all the downsides of both feet and armpits when it comes to sweat and bacterial content, as anyone familiar with the term “ball soup” can attest. The male crotch is a mess of creases and crevices, far moreso than the armpit, has a whole bunch of hair, and has the same kind of sweat glands as the armpits. Plus, it’s generally contained beneath at least two layers of fabric, one of which is generally at least a little snug, either way providing a means for sweat to stay in the general vicinity for extended periods of time. The result is a bacterial rain forest, rich in a variety of species.

I can’t speak to whether or not the swampy crotch is cleaner or dirtier than the door handle or faucets, or even whether or not it’s cleaner than your hands. Those questions would require experimental studies that I haven’t looked for or tried to carry out. I can’t even say that crotchal region bacteria are more or less harmful than other bathroom-based microbes (although as a general principle, “harmless” or “helpful” bacteria often stop being harmless when introduced into a foreign environment, like the E. coli in your gut or the Staphylococcus on your skin). What I can say is that the argument presented in the comic and elsewhere, that your dick stays clean and pristine from the time you leave the shower to the time you unzip your fly, is prima facie absurd, and contradicted by the bacteriological evidence of the groin as a microbial Amazon.

Or, in other words, wash your damn hands!

2 Responses to Meme Debunking #3: Wash your damn hands!

  1. Don says:

    What if I want to share my penile flora with others?

  2. rocket dog says:

    you gives very right advice.Hand wash is avoid the many diseases.It helps in preventing a health problems.Do always wash hands before eating.

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