Pissing Like a Man
Lizbeth A. Finn-Arnold
"I can't," I say to my husband, Mike, as he offers me a beer across the campfire.
"Why not? The kids are asleep for the night. Have another beer, relax."
"It's not that," I say as I squirm in my folding chair. "I have to pee."
Mike points to the woods surrounding our campsite. "Pick a tree, any tree. The woods are your toilet."
"I can't," I repeat.
"Well, I can," my husband says. He nonchalantly rises, puts his beer down, walks into the woods, and relieves himself.
It is late June, and unusually hot and humid for this time of year in central New Jersey. Our roaring campfire only adds unnecessarily to the heat. My cheeks feel red and flushed. I'm crave liquid refreshment. Foolishly determined to avoid the need to urinate, I remain parched.
After a six-year hiatus from camping, my husband and I had decided to be spontaneous and take the kids, 5-year-old Olivia, and 2-year-old Jared, on their first ever outdoor adventure. We hadn't been camping since before I first became pregnant. But camping trips used to be part of an annual summer ritual for us. We'd blow off steam, escape into the woods, and get in touch with nature.
It is to my great embarrassment that I admit that I'm not quite as "in touch with nature" as I wanted to think. I'm a grown woman, mother of two, who enjoyed camping for more than a decade, and yet I have never urinated in the woods.
"Just go. What's the big deal?" My husband asks as my discomfort becomes more apparent.
"It's disgusting," I say.
"Everyone else does it. You might as well too," he says.
"Yuck! Just the thought of everyone else pissing in the woods makes me more determined than ever not to step a foot in them," I say.
"Suit yourself," Mike says as he ruthlessly cracks open another cold beer.
This is my dilemma. The camp's toilets are located in a common building which is at least a half a mile from our campsite. The dirt road to the toilets is dark, as in pitch dark. And I don't feel safe walking alone at 11:30 at night. I could drive the half mile, if it weren't for the three beers imbibed in rapid succession and the fear of driving into some poor, hapless camper on the otherwise deserted road. And my husband would walk with me (as he used to do when we were dating) except now we have two kids sleeping blissfully in the tent. We can't just take off and leave them alone. And we certainly are not going to interrupt their slumber so that mommy can pee.
"O.K. This is an emergency," I say as I jump up from my wobbly folding chair. "I've got to go and there's just no other way."
"Good for you," my husband says proudly.
"Where's the toilet paper?" I ask, as I rummage through the camping supplies.
"Oh, forget the toilet paper, use a leaf," my husband says.
"I'm not completely uncivilized," I say. I find the toilet paper, grab the flashlight, and march resolutely out of the tent.
A minute later I'm tiptoeing aroun in the woods behind our tent. I'm trying to find a "good spot" to pee, although I'm not quite sure what constitutes a suitable pissing hole. I feel like a dog, circling, marking her territory in nature's communal urinetown.
I turn off my flashlight and suddenly there is blackness all around me. Still I worry that everyone can see me, even though most of our neighboring campers are already curled up in their tents, conked out for the evening. I nervously expose my naked buttocks to the night and shiver, although there is not even a slight chill in the air. "This is it," I tell myself. I squat inches above a pile of dried leaves. I'm teetering, unsteady in this position, and as I "let go with the flow" I inevitably spray my legs and pants.
"Women were not meant to do this, it is anatomically impossible," I call out to my husband as if he is to blame for all the inequality between the sexes. I hesitate, shift my body, and try to finish what I've started. And in just a minute it is over. I no longer feel a bloated, unnecessary discomfort. In fact, I feel absolute relief.
I realize, as I pull up my pants, that I've done more than just the physical act of urinating in the woods. On this night, at the age of thirty three, I have liberated the natural woman within. For in that instant of release, I felt the secret power that every man holds in hand (especially when he is peeing). Unconstrained by his anatomy, a man is always free to whip it out and relieve himself wherever he can find a "dark corner." Unlike women, men do not have to repress their urge to go or to ignore their normal bodily functions out of a ridiculous sense of propriety.
"How was it?" Mike asks, while handing me my well-earned beer.
"After a slow start, it turned out for the better," I say.
"Wow, I've known you for fourteen years, and I just realized how gross you are," my husband teases me.
"Shut-up," I say.
"Next thing you know, you'll be belching and farting in front of me as well," he laughs.
"You told me to go!" I protest.
"Relax," he says. "I'm just playing with you."
"Well, it's not fair," I say. "Why is it all right for guys to pee anywhere?"
"We can't exactly pee anywhere," he says.
"You know what I mean," I say. "In an emergency, you can pretty much pee anywhere. It's so sexist and unfair. You guys have it so easy."
"Oh shit," my husband says. "I'm going to need another beer if I have to listen to this feminist rant." He reaches toward the cooler and fishes another beer out of the icy water.
"Think about it. I'm a grown woman, who has basically had my body brutally ripped apart with the birth of two children and yet, because of some inherent cultural inequality and oppression toward women, I'm afraid of appearing unfeminine if I pee in the woods."
"You weren't exactly ripped apart," my husband says.
"Oh I'm sorry, did you have a C-section with Olivia's birth?" I inquire.
"No, but who had to watch it?" he responds.
"Yes, you're right," I say sarcastically. "And I'm sure watching me push for more than two hours with Jared's birth was more painful for you than for me."
"Is there a point to all this?" my husband asks.
"The point is," I continue unflustered, "that after Jared was born, when the nurse told me to stand up, so much blood came gushing out of me that it looked as if I had been hit by a grenade during the Normandy Invasion and was hemorrhaging to death before your very eyes."
"Can we talk about something else?" Mike says, squirming uncomfortably in his chair.
"I'm just saying that it is utterly ridiculous. Why should I be squeamish about peeing in the woods after I've gone through the horror and indignity of labor? I had a room full of total strangers poke, prod, and ogle my private parts in my absolute worst and most unflattering moments. I've had my pubic hair shaved and a catheter stuck up inside of me. I've had my belly sliced open like a fish and I've been sewn back together in the single-most uncomfortable place on the human body to have stitches. I'm kind of past the point of being squeamish, don't you think?" I say.
"Yes, I do," he groans.
I spend the next couple of hours in front of the campfire complaining about the disparity between the sexes when it comes to urinary elimination.
"We will never have equality until we address this issue. Our society totally supports masculine urination and denies the natural processes of women. If it didn't, women wouldn't have to wait in long lines to use the bathroom at concerts and sporting events. We too would have access to female urinals which wouldn't require us to sit down on urine-splashed seats. Our clothes would be designed to open on the bottom and provide easy access to our peepees. Why does it have to be so difficult for women to urinate? Why else? Because men still run corporate America and they have a vested interest in ignoring the intrinsic value of feminine urination. Face it, women will never have equality in the boardroom, until they first gain equality in the bathroom."
I'm still ranting and raving when I realize that my husband is snoring. He has fallen asleep upright in his chair.
I awaken at 3:30 a.m. to the sound of our tent's zipper being opened.
"What's going on?" I ask my husband as I reach for my eyeglasses.
"I have to piss," Mike answers.
The young couples next to our campsite are still partying. Their fire blazes and they are talking rather loudly and incoherently.
Mike is only gone for a minute or two. Upon his return, I get up. "I might as well go now too, since I'm awake."
I march out into the woods, and relieve myself again. This time there is no hesitation. I'm an experienced outdoors adventurer with no sense of false modesty. I'm pissing like a man, and yet I've never felt more like a woman.
© Lizbeth A. Finn-Arnold
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