One of the chapters I had the most fun writing for Kilimanjaro Diaries was the one I named Peequality: The Last Frontier of Women’s Equality. In it you’ll learn of a series of contraptions, each one niftier than the last, which are supposed to help women on the go who, how shall I put it… have to go. And who for whatever reason don’t have the time or patience or privacy to squat the old-fashioned way. A perfect tool to take with you when you go mountain-climbing.
Except I never field-tested any of them. Although I’m a prolific reader, I never really spend much time reading about any upcoming travel destinations. I just pack and go and watch, and then, once my interest is awakened, I do the research afterwards. So it was with the Shewee and its brethren (or should I say sisters), all equally clever-named.
The reason I’m bringing this up now is that I was reminded of the many uses of a Female Urination Device (yep, that’s what they’re called) when at the doctor’s office last week, locked in a bathroom and armed with a cup in which to deposit a urine sample, and once again pissed off – no pun intended, honestly – about the unfairness of the limitations of the female anatomy when it comes to peeing with good aim.
“Wouldn’t it be nice,” I thought while staring the inevitable in the face, “if I now had that Sheewee to help me perform this task without getting urine all over my fingers?”
But the reason I don’t carry one with me in my purse – together with the other 83 items typically found in there – is that I could never have made up my mind as to which one to get.
Go ahead, read for yourself from the following excerpt from my book, Kilimanjaro Diaries: Or, How I Spent a Week Dreaming of Toilets, Drinking Crappy Water, and Making Bad Jokes While Having the Time of My Life, and you might agree.
Peequality: The Last Frontier of Women’s Equality
May 2012, three and a half months to go
I’ve just gotten an email from my friend Sharon, who will also be one of the climbers in our group, giving us tips from a female friend of hers who just came back from Kili. Getting such tips from someone who just returned is always the most welcome information, because you figure, the fresher the better.
As soon as the kids are off to school, I pour myself a cup of tea and read through everything with rapt attention. The friend’s advice is mainly about making sure our sleeping bags are warm enough and how to best pack our clothes, which is nothing much new to me. But then she writes this: “For the ladies she recommends getting the travel rest stop urination bags as a better option to the ‘Shewee’.”
I’ve never heard of a Shewee but it doesn’t require all that much imagination to guess what she together with wee does. I am immediately intrigued. It must be a device similar to the “Urinelle” that I stumbled across online a few weeks ago. I’ve been watching and re-watching the Brazilian promotional video ever since then, and I’ve shared it with all my friends. I’ve practically become addicted to it. It’s a fascinating concept and the advertisement is hilarious, featuring a woman contorting herself in all sorts of ways to avoid touching a succession of dirty toilet seats, dramatic music building in the background with each new attempt, until the Urinelle practically comes riding to the rescue in shining armor to save the day, allowing the (very hot) woman to stand right next to some guy at the urinal and pee through a long hose, the front end discreetly tucked under her skirt. I think it ends with the guy fainting. Go on, watch it on YouTube, I know you want to!
I thought this was just an off-the-wall joke product when I got the link in an email from a Brazilian relative, but apparently the Urinelle has got competition. Perhaps these things do have merit. I recall more than one occasion when my dear husband has found it amusing to snap pictures of my bare bottom, the few times I’ve found myself out in the woods with my pants around my ankles. Intrigued by this whole new market of products I’m not sure what to call, I drop everything I’ve been doing and set out to conduct more research. I can’t find the “travel rest stop urination bags” (don’t ask what I do find for that search term – there is an entire world out there revolving around “travel rest stop” and “urination” that I’m not sure I want to learn more about), so I go on to the Shewee, “the original female urine device since 1999,” even if that’s the one not recommended by Sharon’s friend. It looks like a stunted funnel and can be had, for only $15.97, with an “extension pipe” that is “great for extra reach when aiming into a Peebol.”
Of course, only a woman could be enticed to spend money on a device to improve her aim into the bowl because her original device leaves something to be desired. If only men could be made to carry extension pipes around with them, then toilets the world over would be a happier place.
The Shewee website is full of other intriguing nuggets of wisdom. “Stand up and take control” is the company slogan. Pretty good marketing, if you ask me. The device itself comes in three different colors: one for “the outdoor girl who just likes to get on with the guys on whatever adventure or challenge is set” (green); one for “the ladies who just love to shout about Shewee and are proud to be who they are” (pink); and one for “the more discreet lady who simply wants to stay clean and hydrated in her day to day life whether she’s driving for work or a shopping trip only offers dirty public toilets” (white).
How to pick the right one? Those are entirely too many choices for me right there. I can’t even choose between two scents of dishwashing liquid on a grocery shelf in under ten minutes. But I don’t think I could go for white. I mean, that woman who can’t manage to use the toilet before driving to work so that she won’t have to go while driving to work – where the hell does she work, Antarctica? Or else she has an extremely small bladder. I know I don’t want to be that kind of woman. But do I want to shout out proudly about Shewee by going pink? More importantly, who would I shout it out proudly to? I wouldn’t want to be fumbling around my crotch and somehow attaching some plastic device in plain view of anybody else. Nothing left but going with army green and “getting on with the guys,” especially since we are indeed going on an adventure. I make a mental note to check with Mike and the three other men in our group if purchasing a green Shewee and joining them for a communal pee would fall into the “getting on with them” category. I don’t think I should mention it to the younger set of guys, namely the three teenage boys, or I’ll run the risk that Max will never talk to me again.
Come to think of it, I would suggest the Shewee people add a glow-in-the-dark version to the selection. For when you step out of your tent at night and want to pee against the tent while standing up, without having to don a headlamp to make sure you don’t accidentally have the spout feeding into your pant leg.
Now I’m on a roll. What else is out there, I wonder?
What’s out there is a surprisingly large variety, catering to every buyer group and subgroup imaginable. There seems to be something on offer for everyone. Everyone that is, as long as she’s a woman. The basic flaw with this entire product line, you see, is that it services only half the population. A good marketer would expand their target audience.
This is where the “pStyle” comes in. “The pStyle is a device that allows women and trans men to pee standing up without undressing” proclaims the pStyle website. Without taking any stand here – no pun intended – you do wonder how many transgender customers that gets them. If you used to have a perfectly fine and easy-to-operate device attached to your body to pee standing up, and then you have that device surgically removed, and then you go out looking for products that might allow you to pee standing up, are you out of your fucking mind?