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If you can stand up, you can pee standing up. Don’t believe me? Read on…

This statement is both metaphorical and literal. Let’s start with the metaphor, which is standing up for yourself, and peeing standing up implies control of the situation.

I haven’t done a great job with this lately. I didn’t even realize that I was backing down and allowing others to take control until Hippie Dude pointed it out. It’s happened time and again with the psychiatrists, and recently with a couple of purchases that involved high-pressure sales pitches.

The root issue seems to be that when questioned, I doubt my knowledge of the situation or what I want. When forced to make a decision on the spot, I don’t tend to stand up for myself. It can be hard for me to reassess the situation on the fly and under pressure. This is really frustrating because I’m pretty assertive in practically every other regard. But sometimes I seem to end up thinking, maybe they know something that I don’t know.

In every case, however, it turned out that I really did know my stuff better than the other party. I knew enough that I should have been able to spot a scam in action. I did figure it out later and have been very aggressive about getting it fixed: I had to threaten legal action, start a credit charge dispute, demonstrate that I knew that they had lied to me, and point out that what they did was clearly illegal. I hate confrontations like that and avoid them at all costs, but $600 is too high a price tag to dodge the discomfort.

I have been to blame in these situations, at least in part. I didn’t stand up for myself, even though I really did know better, because I wasn’t confident in myself. It’s not in my nature to assume that someone will take unfair advantage or treat me like dirt, so I don’t always pick up on the cues very fast. So now I’m just trying to be more aware of these situations and remember that I need to trust my instincts because I’m right far more often than I’m wrong.

Sara Lomas is awesome!

But as I mentioned at the beginning, this isn’t just a metaphor. I’m being literal too. Ladies, you can pee standing up! I was reminded of this by an awesome photo of the awesome Sara Lomas, and inspired to share my knowledge on the topic.

There are two ways to pee standing up: with or without an assistive device. I’ve seen assertions that it’s possible for women to do this without assistance. I’m not going to go into the details, because it’s just not worth it when there are handy dandy alternatives. Enter female urination devices. Where have these been all my life?!? They are basically “pee funnels” and come in a variety of designs. There’s a good gear review from Backpacker Magazine but it’s not comprehensive (check the comments.)

Men take for granted the discomforts that their entertaining physiology lets them avoid. For the ladies, these wonderful inventions allow touch-free use of nasty public toilets or port-a-johns, and have several advantages in the great outdoors: no strip-down in subzero temps, no strain on the knees from squatting, no bug bites on your nether regions, no risk of mooning passersby, no need to remove your backpack, and you can even pee into a bottle.

These devices are quite sanitary when used properly. Most are easily cleaned with a “flick” and because urine is sterile when it exits the body, there is no immediate hygiene concern. Naturally, you should rinse and wash the device when opportunity presents itself. You can also carry a pocket pack of tissues (and antibacterial wipes, if you must) for clean-up. Tissues are a necessity for most of these devices, but not all of them.

The clear pStyle at left and purple Whiz Freedom at right, with a quarter to show scale.

I’ve tried both the Whiz Freedom and the pStyle. Most devices follow a closed-funnel design like Whiz Freedom. Two problems result: volumetric limits, and creating a seal. If the spout is too narrow, you can overload the device leading to a mess. Any substantial volume can lead to wet underparts. Creating a seal can require precise positioning and a tight grip, both challenging at times.

Flexible soft materials sound appealing but worsen problems with creating a seal – you have to really clamp that sucker in place, maintain the seal at top and bottom, while also aiming the spout downward away from yourself (and not into the wind, by the way…) That’s not particularly easy. With all such devices, spout length matters if you want to avoid dribbling all over your clothes and shoes.

The Whiz Freedom took some practice (in the shower) and was not fail-safe by any means. I had to drop my drawers to at least mid-buttcheek and spread my legs a fair bit to position the thing properly. Even with practice, I still had issues with overflow and failure to maintain a seal, so I just didn’t use it much.

Then I bought a pStyle, which is a game-changer. Here’s why: it’s narrow enough to slide in through your fly, over/around panties, and hold in place with one hand. The rigid plastic makes it easy to keep in place – just push down on the front (which you have to do anyway) and the lever action keeps it firmly positioned, even when your muscles flex during urination. Despite being rigid, it is not at all uncomfortable and the placement need not be as precise because there’s no worry about creating a seal. There are no problems with overflow because it’s not closed and it’s deep enough to handle anything you deliver.

I can actually use it with my jeans buttoned and just unzipped, without spilling a drop. On the first try. No shower practice required! And I’ll admit, watching the yellow stream is a rather novel part of the experience. If you follow the instructions and remove it properly (the only step that took two tries to master) you won’t even need toilet paper to clean up. It also comes in non-girly colors and costs only $15 US. It’s worth every penny to be free to pee standing up.