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.’