Why Do Men Spit? (and women don’t)

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, gay?  (I’ll ignore for the moment the assumption that all, or even most, women swallow semen.)

But no, that can’t be right: it seems too…too reasoned.  Spitting seems to be more of a reflex, a habit, a that’s-the-way-I-was-raised sort of thing, 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?  Both do involve a forceful expulsion of bodily fluids.

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 to spitting.  There seems to be a certain contempt in the gesture.  Certainly to spit on someone, like pissing on them, (and ejaculating 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.  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.

Men used to spit into spittoons, back when tobacco chewing was all the rage.  So perhaps modern day spitting is like any tradition: a practice whose rationale has long since disappeared, but whose emotional value lingers, on a barely conscious level – maybe there’s some Marlboro-man feel about it…

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 a woman auto mechanic explaining that the perpetually greasy hands thing was totally unnecessary, it was just a macho thing.  Why are clean hands unmanly?  Surely few women would want to be touched, inside or out, by greasy black 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.

For surely there’s something about the liquidity of saliva. Liquids are soft; soft is feminine.  So they must dissociate themselves from it, get rid of it.  After all, you don’t see men hacking off their tough, hard, fingernails and hurling them away so contemptuously.  Actually, maybe you do – long fingernails are a female thing.

Hm.  Do men think hard stools are more masculine than soft stools – do real men brag about hard it is to shit?  Is that what that pile of magazines in their washrooms is all about?


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    • Rididill on September 10, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Love this post, made me laugh.

    Especially “this may explain the unnecessarily loud, kleenex-devastating way men blow their noses”

    Just a thought –

    “Why are clean hands unmanly? Surely few women would want to be touched, inside or out, by greasy black fingers.”

    Yeah but men often seem to like doing things to women that they don’t want- this is very masculine, no?

    But I think it has more to do with a kind of working class masculinity which associates clean hands with being inside the house and not working – like a woman. Not the same for middle/upper classes.

    But then again there is a general lack of hygiene thing too. And I’m not sure what that is about.

    • ptittle on September 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    good points, Rididill (and welcome to hellyeah!)

    • Paul on September 24, 2023 at 11:23 am

    Men tend to swear at inanimate objects and women don’t. Shit is more feminine and fuck is more masculine. A woman that says fuck a lot may indicate she is more open to the idea. A man who says it a lot is considered to be uncouth in mixed comapany and agressive in male company. I personally don’t want to sit down on a baseball field.

    • Tracey Arnsperger on October 9, 2023 at 12:51 pm

    I prefer the company of women as they, simply put, are more respectable towards everybody!!!

    • Tracey Arnsperger on October 9, 2023 at 12:53 pm

    I have never swallowed anything from the male body and I won’t.

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