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On female urinals

Note this post was written in 2012 so it’s very cisnormative, I wouldn’t write it the same way today if I had another crack. 

Heartbreaking though it is, I don’t have a penis. I’d love one, because there are so many things I’d like to be able to do with it: find out what wanking’s like for boys, spurt jizz out of it into someone’s mouth, and – of course – piss in great powerful jets while I’m standing up.

But I can’t do any of those things because I’m a girl: when I piss I have to sit down.

I’ve just come back from a festival, and despite having a spectacular time, I almost ruined my entire weekend by rather stupidly thinking I should use a female urinal. As they’re becoming more and more popular at festivals and large field-based events, I thought I should make it quite clear to those of you who might happen to give a shit that these things are awful. Not just awful – they are an utterly unfit-for-purpose, idiotic and presumptive solution to women’s urinary needs.

What is a female urinal?

For those unfamiliar with the female urinal, it consists of a long trough running down one side of a room, with small curtained-off cubicles adjoining it. Women who enter are handed a flimsy cardboard funnel and told to cup it to their vulva, lean out over the trough, and piss.

Oh joy – we get to piss like men! Men! Men who are so much more efficient at pissing – who are so much quicker and better that they can pee in half the time! No more of that awkward ‘pulling your trousers all the way down’ idiocy, no more seat-wiping, now women too can stand up and piss like men.

Except, of course, they can’t. Our bodies are designed differently. It shouldn’t need saying but most women don’t have penises, and a flimsy cardboard tube does not a penis make.

What actually happens in these female urinals is – to put it mildly – hit and miss. Some women go in, use the cardboard tube, have a lovely satisfying wee, and come out feeling refreshed. Others (and yes this does include me) go in, grab the tube, fuck about it with for 5 minutes making sure that it’s in the right position, wee a bit, realise it’s cascading out of the back of the funnel, stop mid-flow, readjust tube, wee again, feel more piss pouring down their legs, swear, adjust tube, wee again, realise that the whole exercise is utterly futile, hurl stupid piss-soaked cardboard funnel away, then stomp off to go and queue for the sit-down toilets.

Those skilled women who can use it often argue that it’s quicker – it isn’t. It feels quicker at a festival because far more women are queuing for the ‘normal’ sit-down toilets, so if you’re willing to use a urinal you can breeze past them. But the actual system of pissing has not become more efficient, you’ve just been handed a fast-track pass because you’ve mastered a skill that does not come naturally to the women standing in the long queue.

Someone once told me that it’s better because it’s cleaner – well, not if you piss down your legs. Besides, even if you piss through a tube you still need to wipe yourself afterwards, and there is usually no toilet roll in female urinals – proof (if it were needed) that those who invented them have not the slightest clue how girl pissing works.

A better type of female urinal

I might be incompetent. Wait, no – I am incompetent. But that is not the point – I’m definitely not the only woman who cannot grasp a woefully-inadequate cardboard penis-substitute and urinate through it without humiliation, awkwardness, and a lot of spilt piss.

It’s not exactly patriarchical oppression, I’m just really annoyed that someone decided that the best way to make us more efficient would be to make us act like men, rather than to hunt out a solution that sought to understand the workings of the female urethra. Whoever invented this appears to have based the idea on little other than the idea that men are better at pissing than women.

Problem: women take longer to go to the loo than men, causing massive queues at the ladies. Solution: teach them how to piss like men.

A better solution is to find a system for women that works like urinals – a room in which large groups can piss quickly and easily. How about a trough on the floor we can squat over? How about a nice, clean clearing somewhere in the woods? How about – and this may sound radical – a fucking bucket?

It doesn’t have to be dignified, it doesn’t have to be glamorous, it doesn’t even have to be easier than pissing on a comfy sit-down toilet. It just has to be better than urinating all over your hands, your jeans, and a rapidly-deteriorating wet cardboard tube.

Why do I care? Well, for a start I never want to feel the pressure to ‘just use the female urinals’ and end up wandering a festival at midnight in the rain, with an only semi-empty bladder and piss soaking through my jeans. But also because I genuinely don’t understand why the only solution that’s being offered to the ‘queues at female toilets’ problem is ‘make girls do it like men.’

The sexes are both very different, with staggering variety across and within the gender spectrum, and nowhere are our differences more striking than in our biology. You stand up to piss, I sit down. I should no more be told to ‘just piss standing up’ than I should tell you to ‘just have a multiple orgasm.’


  • Leo says:

    I’d have thought the obvious solution was to provide more sit down toilets for women.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Well… yes. But I’m assuming that they’re not just inventing new toilets for the fun of it – I’m guessing they want something that’s a bit more efficient/cost-effective than rows of portaloos.

  • John says:

    I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot this summer after going to two festivals with roughly 50% female attendees.

    The first seemed to subscribe to the “equality = treating everyone the same” school of thought – they gave equal space to stalls and urinals. Now, urinals take up a lot less space than stalls, as well as being quicker to use; and while I normally had to queue for seconds, if at all, the girls I was with often faced 15 minute waits – rather than “equality = treating everyone so that they get the same outcome” and giving roughly 4 or 5 times as much space for stalls (which is the simplest way I can think of to even up the times).

    The second festival (the same one you’re talking about) is the first that I’ve been to that had a female urinal and gave out these “flimsy cardboard funnels”. I haven’t actually seen the things myself so can’t comment on their efficacity but my friend tried one for the first time, could use it straight away, and was out significantly before I was.

    Now, I’m not saying it’s not your fault for not being able to use it properly or anything, like I say I have no clue about the mechanics or whatever, but from this sample of 2 people it seems like they’re suitable for at least some girls. How about if everyone tries them and if they work for you, great, go ahead and use them. If not, just use the stalls. Then adjust the proportion of space given to female urinals/stalls/male urinals until all 3 queues are the same length?

    I’m sure female urinals and flimsy cardboard fake penises aren’t the best solution (as I clearly can have little to no knowledge of this whole area, I have no idea what would be better, you’ll have to get inventing) but they seem to be a step in the right direction, and maybe someone will be inspired to create something better and the way will have already been paved for it to step in.

    • John says:

      Reading this back I immediately realise 2 things: 1) I’m obviously still more wasted than I realised from the festival I’ve just woken up after and am barely able to write coherently and 2) I sound like a mansplaining twat. Apologies for both of these things, the way that this might read is not necessarily the the tone that was intended.

      • Girl on the net says:

        OK, here goes – I don’t think you’re ‘mansplaining’, I just don’t think you fully get what I’m saying.

        You say your friend could use them, and that’s fine – I accept that some girls can use them (and I say so in the post), and I’m glad that you say there could be other solutions (I suggested a couple in the post) but at the end of the day my point is that although some women might be able to use them, the actual female urinal itself is not designed for women – it is designed to encourage women to act like men.

        Essentially what the inventor was looking for was a more efficient way for girls to pee. Like I say above, a trough on the floor we can squat over is a lot more efficient than a cardboard tube and a man stance. I reckon.

        Of course I am fully aware that I may well be the only woman in the entire world who finds these things difficult to use, but somehow I doubt it.

  • Mr Archer says:

    I’m sorry if this wasn’t your intent, but I’ve just spent the last 15 minutes pissing myself with laughter at this; damn near wet myself. All I can actually say to your predicament is: practice makes perfect. It’s probably what those girls did (and what a mate of mine did, nonetheless) to ensure what happened to you doesn’t happen to them. Or you could just buy a Portaloo. Whatever works, innit…

    • Girl on the net says:

      ‘Practice makes perfect’?! You want me to wee on myself an unspecified number of times until I learn to do it right? I’m afraid I’ll have to disappoint you =)

      Glad you liked the post, though. If I can’t piss with dignity I can at least make the most of a good story about it.

  • Siv says:

    I love this story, but then I’m a perv – why else would I be here?! “‘Practice makes perfect’?!” Oh yes please, keep practicing and let us visualise your endeavours. Tip to avoid damp jeans: wear a skirt :/

  • Totally anonymous username says:

    I’m sure some women can use them first time, but then there are some women who can do some sort of vagic trick and piss standing up using only the power of their labia. Doesn’t mean it’s a viable or particularly useful option for most women, not to mention women who have less dexterity than most for whatever reason. I agree, a trough for squatting over would be way more practical (although I’m guessing a lot easier in a skirt?) or indeed a series of trees to squat against.

    There are definitely more fun ways and places to get covered in piss.

  • Kirsten says:

    In public buildings around Britain, the number of urinals and WCs that men are given is typically twice as many as the WCs that women get. Also, women take longer than men to use them – research indicates that on average they take twice as long. This means that in terms of discrimination, or not having access to a toilet when it is needed, women are four times more “vulnerable” than men. Where usage is roughly the same, women should have twice as many amenities to ensure equality of access, but because WC cubicles take up more space than urinals, this means that women’s toilets should have three times the floor space than the men’s.

    Leaving aside the issue of accessible toilets for people with disabilities and just looking at standard male and female public toilets, if you build a men’s public toilet and a women’s, with each room measuring 3m x 5.5m. you’ll be able to fit in six urinals and two cubicles in the men’s, and five cubicles in the women’s. If you increase the women’s toilet to 6m x 5.5 m you can fit in 10 cubicles. To achieve real parity with the 8 toilet amenities for the men, providing 16 cubicles for women, you need 9m x 5.5m space in the women’s toilet. And those are not spacious comfortable cubicles, they’re the cramped narrow awkward ones everybody is used to, where you don’t have room to take your coat off, your clothes get mucky from brushing across the seat, and you sit with your leg jammed up against the sanitary bin.

    I bought myself a shewee. It’s great, but I take so long to make sure it’s positioned properly that I don’t think it saves any time.

  • Andy says:

    See now I have a picture in my head of piss running down bare legs and soaking into jeans…..I suspect you know exactly what you were doing!!!

  • Faith says:

    I have tried the Shewee (other cardboard boxes are available, I’m sure). My main problem with it? That when I piss, I piss sitting down. My body knows that if I’m stood up, I haven’t made it to the toilet yet and to keep it in. If my trousers aren’t around my ankles, it is not time to go.

    It took me an AGE to convince my body that, “yes, whilst I am standing up right now, I promise you, we can wee. Just go for it. I beg you. Just piss. Come on now. No no, it’s okay, I’m aware I’m not sitting down, but I promise you, we can wee anyway. Yes yes, my trousers are mostly up (why pull down your trousers at a urinal) but we can wee! Go on! Do it! You might like it! Please… just wee…”

    After some considerable effort and force, I managed to wee. It wasn’t as satisfying as a good, sitting down just as you’re desperate wee.

    Also, as in the blog, no toilet paper. And slightly damp after wee pants are just not the kind of wet panties I’m into.

  • highperformance says:

    Next time just make sure you’re a guest of a performer… I’ll make sure I offer.)

  • Lou E says:

    Maybe one alternative is the ‘women’s urinals’ I’ve seen at a handful of London clubs. They’re shaped a bit like bike saddles, allowing you to back onto the urinal and not need to experience the cardboard-funnel-wee-explosion extravaganza. The only problem is getting everyone to stop being embarrassed about using them in front of other people!

  • Sammy says:

    The original point of these pee tube devices was not to make women pee into troughs like men, but to provide them with a way of peeing standing up when they couldn’t find a bathroom.
    Never found yourself squatting behind a tree, pants around your ankles, trying to pee without getting it on your pants?

  • HowItReallyIs says:

    The entire concept of female urinals is stupid enough on it’s own because they’re primary intention is to make the process faster, and whats even more stupid is that women don’t see they themselves are the cause of them popping up. They wouldn’t even be necessary if it weren’t for women using their bathrooms as everything BUT bathrooms rather than using them as meeting rooms, hair and make-up rooms, and hangouts to talk. That’s why your bathrooms are utterly useless, you don’t see the mens bathroom having lines as long as a ticket line for a concert, that’s because guys get in, piss and get out. And you COULD tell a man to have a multiple orgasm, it’s very possible and do-able, you should read up on it :)

  • HowItReallyIs says:

    *their^ before a grammar pirate assrapes me over a mistake.

  • Alex says:

    I had a girlfriend once whose party trick was peeing like a bloke – in urinals, toilets, alleyways, parks… – without any kind of funnel or other accoutrement to her vulva. She used a technique similar to that described on the wonderful . Trying not to be mansplainy or to say “you must do this”, but bloody hell was it impressive.

  • Herbin says:

    It seems that not enough women have weighed in on this issue. I am currently designing a system that was request for a lady urinal. My question would be is what design would you perfer. A trough were multiple ladies can stand over and squat? would a women feel comfortable going so close together? How close can one get? I know I need at least a foot and a half space. I imagine it might be nice to go back to back. or individual buckets? Thanks for the T.P idea no man would think of that. That is certain.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hmm. I think personally I’d go for a room full of individual buckets, with a trough to pour them out into, and probably a rail to hold onto while you balance over the bucket. But appreciate that’s not the most fancy solution. I reckon it’d get the job done, though – welcome other thoughts if people want to weigh in…?

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