The Real Reason Men Spit So Much

You've likely been walking down the street before and witnessed the male in front of you hock a loogie right onto the sidewalk. Although intensely grossed out, you probably forced yourself to forget what you just witnessed and focus more on not stepping in the offending puddle than anything else. But have you ever wondered why he did it in the first place? Last time we checked, it doesn't feel particularly good to spit out anything, saliva included. And let's be honest, if you saw a woman do the exact same thing on the sidewalk, the incident would likely become story for your colleagues around the water cooler instead of just a normal, slightly gross sighting.

So why do men publicly spit way more than women? There are a few explanations. Professor Ross Coomber, who produced a 2013 academic paper looking at the nature and meaning of public spitting in six Asian countries shares with Vice that spitting is "visceral" and often used as a sign of hostility for males. "Some men spit because they are showing some level of aggression," he says. Coomber adds, "On the football field, it's men showing they are determined. 'I'm spitting now. I'm getting aggressive and determined' — it shows that I care."

We can also blame it on culture

Dentist Susan Maples, author of Blabber Mouth: 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Healthier, Happier, Sexier Life tells Women's Health her cut and dry theory on why males spit more. "It's purely cultural: Some guys spit because they grew up thinking it's cool and didn't get chastised the way girls might for spitting," she says. Maples explanation on spitting being a cultural habit in America is quite possible. Records of men spitting in public date way back to when Charles Dickens famously complained about it when he toured the states in 1842.

So far we can blame the male loogie-hocking as a sign of aggression and a cultural normality. There is also another reason to consider. "Others develop the habit from spitting out chewing tobacco," Maples notes to Women's Health. It's as true as it is gross. In a report via Samhsa, it shows that 8.2 million men were users of chewing tobacco and snuff in comparison to only 457,000 female users. Thus, it's way more likely for males to be the public-spitting offenders.

We admit, with the current high focus on good hygiene and intense sanitation measures, even men are less likely to launch out a wad of saliva in public these days. Let's just hope the trend continues. And in the meantime, continue to look out for what you step on in the streets.