Toiletries and the Modern Persona

In American culture excreta must be completely disassociated from the individual generating them. They should be invisible, unscented and above all anonymous. The system of flush toilets leading into communal sewers makes this separation of an individual from her waste possible. In many medical systems the characteristics of a person's excreta are an element of diagnosis. In America medical tests may include a lab analysis of the bacterial content of the feces, but nobody peers into their own chamber-pot. And thanks to Pampers mothers no longer need to wash dirty diapers-we have built a shit-free world!

Erica Jong's heroine finds German toilets disgusting because they allow or even oblige people to inspect their own feces. To an American this seems quite unnatural:

I hated the Germans for always thinking about their damned stomachs, their Gesundheit - as if they had invented health, hygiene and hypochondria. I hated their fanatical obsession with the illusion of cleanliness. Illusion, mind you, because Germans really are not clean. The lacy white curtains, the quilts hanging out the windows to air, the housewives who scrub the sidewalk in front of their houses, and the storekeepers who scrub their front windows are all part of a carefully contrived facade to intimidate foreigners with Germany's aggressive wholesomeness. But just go into any German toilet and you'll find a fixture unlike any other in the world. It has a cute little porcelain platform for the shit to fall on so you can inspect it before it whirls off into the watery abyss, and there is, in fact, no water in the toilet until you flush it. As a result German toilets have the strongest shit smell of any toilets anywhere.

Erica Jong, Fear of Flying (1973)