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Why Do Men Spit? (And Women Don’t)

Peg Tittle

Is it physiological?  Do males produce a larger amount of saliva?  Even so, why the need to spit it out?  Why not just swallow it?

                Would that remind them of swallowing semen?  Which is female, effeminate, and therefore detestable?  (I'll ignore for the moment the assumption that all, or even most, women swallow semen.)

                No, that seems too … reasoned.  There must be something else going on.  Spitting seems to be a reflex, a habit, a cultural thing, a subcultural thing: to spit is to be manly.  Little boys spit to appear grown up.  Grown up men.  So what's the connection between spitting and masculinity?

                Consider the way men spit.  It's not a chin-dribbling drooling kind of getting rid of saliva.  It's a forceful ejac – ah – is that it?  Is spitting a little pseudo sex act?  Every time a man spits, does he experience a sort of orgasmic release?

                Hm – the pissing contest now comes to mind.  What is it about expelling one's bodily fluids with some degree of force that proves one's manhood?

                Is it just the forcefulness?  Whether it's throwing a ball or – this may explain the unnecessarily loud, kleenex-devastating way men blow their noses.  Bodily fluids there too.  But then why don't men wail when they cry? 

                There must be something more …    There seems to be a certain contempt in the gesture.  Certainly to spit on someone, like pissing on them, is to defile, is to degrade, them. 

                But what about the man just walking down the street who hacks up a glob and spits every few seconds?  Is that, then, just a continuous display of contempt – for everything?  I am male: I am better than everything.  Actually, that rings true.  (As does the corollary: I am so insecure I have to display my superiority every few seconds.)

                Perhaps men see saliva, like mucous, as germ-filled and rightly expelled from the body.  But then why don't they spit into a handkerchief or a kleenex?  Spitting, according to this interpretation, increases the contemptuousness, the utter disregard for the other, the one who shares the sidewalk.

                Or it could just be that men are slobs.  But, again, what's the connection?  Why do men associate lack of hygiene with masculinity?  I recall an auto mechanic, a woman, explain that the perpetually greasy, grimy hands thing was totally unnecessary; it was just a macho thing.  But why are clean hands unmanly?  Surely few women would want to be touched, inside or out, by greasy, grimy fingers.  (And isn't touching women proof of one's manhood?)  Maybe it's just that it's so opposite to women: women are clean, so if I am a man, I am dirty.  (And how stupid is that?)


If you enjoyed today’s moot, check out Peg’s website. If you are feeling generous, consider donating to National Abortion Federation Canada, Peg’s charity of choice.

*For each moot, we generate a cover image using  DALL·E, an AI art platform that generates images using natural language processing. This image on the right was generated using the title, 'Why Do Men Spit? (And Women Don’t)’ in the style of Jackson Pollock Peg's artist of choice.*

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DALL·E 2023-01-25 22.58.12 - a painting of a man spitting in the style of jackson pollack.

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