September 18, 2008

Shenis Envy: How to Pee Like a Man

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Two Fridays ago I ran into a problem I run into most Fridays around 11 p.m. I had imbibed one too many drinks before leaving the house (during an event some might call a “pre-game”). Damn Cornell’s campus for making any destination annoyingly out of reach, because wouldn’t you have known it!, 300 yards out the door, and I I realized I had to use the restroom.
In my opinion, 300 yards (900 feet) is the devil’s distance: it’s just far enough that you don’t want to turn back but is still so achingly close that I could have turned around. Well, anyway, I didn’t go home, but quickly became pissed [har har] at the thought of how much I had to pee the whole way to the party. And then I thought, “Well, this will be awkward: I’ll say my rushed hellos and then ask for directions to the bathroom. How uncouth! …And, oh fuck NO!, what if there’s a line?!”
Salt in the wound: Wouldn’t you know it that the guy friend I travelled with to the party also had to pee at the same moment I did? And wouldn’t you know it that Cornell’s campus is significantly lush with forest, so …
I have never wanted to be a man more than I did in that moment: How simple it was for him! He could just go wherever he damn well pleased without any T.P.
Along with the institutional disadvantages womynfolk still bear, our anatomy will always bar us from such fun and satisfying bonding activities like peeing in the woods and writing one’s name in the snow with one’s waste.
… Until now! Ladies, meet the Female Urination Device (F.U.D.). According to Wikipedia, the device is “a small funnel which enables a woman to urinate while standing upright. This has a number of advantages, such as allowing her to remain clothed, avoiding contact with public toilets, and speeding up the process.” Some F.U.D.s even come in disturbingly accurate penile shapes, like those featured on Shenis.com. So if you ever wanted to use a female urination device and really mean it, well, now you totally can, and that’s totally your prerogative.
Kiki, the inventor, sees the F.U.D. as something beyond a convenience: “The Shenis is gold and twelve inches long. In other words, it really is the Equalizer. It also gives us girls a chance to pee on road trips. While boating. Camping. Even outside of bars if we want. Just like men. Most important, we can do it standing up.”
Mm, call me a little old-fashioned, but I find this product problematic for many reasons. Granted, it’s convenient for maybe all of the other cases Wiki and Kiki state, but “remaining clothed” while peeing should not be part of the grocery list of good feelings for the F.U.D. Maybe I’m missing the point, but … okay, unless you wear crotchless panties or “go commando” on the regular, you’re going to run into some issues with your femme-funnel. I’m not going to illustrate any further what I mean, but I guess they should say you remain comparably clothed to when one sits to pee.
Plus, I have an ideological opposition to the idea that the Shenis is some sort of breakthrough to feminism; anatomical mimesis is hardly any solution to the male/female equity dilemma.
I can’t say that I’d feel totally awesome wearing a strap-on funnel. In fact, I’d probably feel pretty ridiculous. And let’s be real: I wouldn’t be doing any action to advance women’s rights, either — I’d still just be peeing.
And let’s chat cleanliness for a hot sec. Let’s say my Friday night had gone as I would have liked it to, and I had peed alongside my comrade. There’s still the disconcerting idea that I’d have to carry my urine-funnel along with me until I could responsibly dispose of it anywhere, including at said party.
That’s weird and gross and even more uncouth than asking where the bathroom is right off the bat. Unless you want to be known as “pee-girl” for the rest of your days at Cornell, you’d have to be sure to have a sanitary and eco-friendly means of disposing your funnel — unless you own a reusable F.U.D., like the Shenis (but do you really want to carry around a be-piddled urination device?).
So what about my own “Shenis envy?” Sure, the F.U.D. equalizes the peeing playing field, once and for all — especially on long car trips when you don’t feel like crouching in a deeply wooded forest or touching your skin to a porta potty’s seat. But with so many cons on my list, I can’t rationalize buying the damn thing. So in my opinion, if you’ve absolutely gotta get back to nature, just skip the freaky funnels and do it au naturel.

For more information on F.U.D.s, visit shenis.com.

Lauren Herget is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, and often remembers to pee before class. She can be reached at leh39@cornell.edu. Oddly Enough appears in Daze alternate Thursdays.