In the Survival Skills for Badass Bitches series, writer Melanie LaForce walks you through everything you need to know to survive the outdoors, tough situations, and/or the forthcoming apocalypse.
2020 has taught us that we can expect the unexpected. The universe has spoken, and its words were simple: “All bets are fucking off.” Amidst a pandemic, violence, wildfires, hurricanes, and oh yeah, fucking cannibal hornets, you’ll need some strategies to take the chaos in stride with a fat smile. We’re here to give you some real-world badass witch skills, such as how to pee on the side of the road, make your own cannabis tincture, and forage for food. When the alien overlords inevitably land their ships on November 3, you’ll rock the apocalypse with a toolkit of strategies for living your best life amidst the haters and anti-maskers and generally, the earth in flames.
The first skill that we will address is the art of peeing without a toilet. In the last six months, I spent over 90 hours driving cross country, and managed to avoid peeing at any germ-ridden rest stops. This truly is a skill for the apocalypse. However, if you have a vulva and weren’t raised with the social norm of outdoor peeing, it can be a bit of a learning curve. But never fear: the joys of outdoor peeing can be attained by all vulvas with a little strategy, practice, and attitude.
Finding a spot. Puritan morals aside, you should find the most private place to pee. This prevents you from being arrested for public indecency and/or inadvertently forcing non-consenting folks to witness your magic stream. If you’re in deeps woods, find a tree and turn your back to it. In the unlikely event of predators (namely mountain lions and Chads), it’s best not to crouch sans cover. Back in civilization, I’ve relied on many vacant, ruined buildings, which are rarely monitored. (Do this at your own risk, as most abandoned buildings are private property and peeing near them could be considered trespassing.) My favorite place to pee is BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, where I can more literally piss on the federal government.
Devices exist. One strategy for reducing the challenge of outdoor peeing is to do so with the aid of a plastic or silicone device. These are also great for those with low leg mobility and strength. Some pee devices fit over the entire vulva, and some function more as a urethral viaduct, if you will. I tend to prefer the urethral viaduct, such as P-Style and Freshette; you can even use these with your pants up! Some were created specifically with trans men in mind. (A detailed guide to stand-to pee devices, or STP devices, can be found on transguys.com.) These devices are also useful for precarious situations such as rappelling down a cliff or peeing at a Phish concert without a bunch of Bernie bros admiring your ass.
However, pee devices can also make it more difficult for some vulvas. To avoid pee dripping down my legs (and pants), I essentially have to tuck the end of the pee device into my vagina. And while tucking things into my vagina is generally fun, it’s not necessarily the scene I’m going for while peeing on-the-go.
Thus, I now exclusively rely on ye ole crouch-squat method. It is old school, it is convenient, and it doesn’t require shoving plastic in your vag or putting a pee-soaked funnel back into your briefcase. (Hey, you never know.)
Positioning. A simple squat will work, but ideally, you want to arch your back to point the pee spray away from your body. It’s more of a crouch than a squat, more cat-like than hippopotamus-like. To achieve the desired position, squat as low as you can and tilt your vulva back, like sexy sphinx. The more you can bend your knees, the more you can achieve this. Channel Sigourney Weaver as she turns into Zuul.
Do some fucking yoga. Years of childhood arthritis and roller derby left me with the knees of an 80-year-old. If it were not for the blessed powers of yoga, squatting to pee would be insanely difficult. Work on your quad strength, hamstring flexibility, and squat-position balance if you’ll be doing a lot of outdoor urination. Thick thighs save lives, ladies. Sign up now for my weekly newsletter of outdoor pee workouts! (It would sell.)
Consider pubes. We all love to be Shavey McGee when it comes to our genitals sometimes, but unfortunately, a bare vulva can make outdoor peeing a little more...slippery. Pubic hairs act as delightful little urine helpers, ferrying your pee away from your body in a relatively orderly fashion. With a shaved vulva, however, urine does not have a clear path, so it goes off-trail. If you don’t mind peeing all over yourself, either hairstyle will work.
Grass is your friend. Elect to spray your personal waste on the trash-ridden grassy knoll vs. the deserted factory parking lot. Grass, like pubes, keeps pee maintained. Concrete or asphalt (or even very dry dirt) will splash more.
If you wipe, wipe with your clean hands. Trying to cart around toilet paper for a quick roadside pee is likely going to turn ugly. Either you’ll be stuck carrying around wet TP or you’ll be a goddamn litterbug. So there’s the shake method (which doesn’t get me dry enough, personally, unless I’m willing to jiggle my vulva for an hour), or wiping with your hands. And I personally would rather have some pee on my hands than wet underwear. While urine isn’t precisely sterile (contrary to popular belief) the presence of bad bacteria is rare, unless you have a UTI or another type of infection. I mean, I wouldn’t want to dip my fingers in a chocolate fountain immediately after hand-wiping my vulva, but hygienically speaking, it would probably be fine. Just don’t tell anyone I said that. And maybe don’t do it. You can, however, give your hands a rinse of water or a squeeze of hand sanitizer after you wipe. Just in case any chocolate fountains come along.
Your hands should be clean to wipe; you don’t want to transfer bacteria to your vulva. Hand-sanitized paws are fine if sanitizer has dried thoroughly, lest you transfer searing alcohol to your precious lower mucous membranes.
For road trips, embrace the 4-door automobile peeing booth. The more doors your car has, the more bathroom stalls it can become. My mind was blown when someone pointed out that, if you open both doors on the same side of the car, you create a little booth that masks you from prying eyes. Plus, if your legs are asleep after hours in the car, or squatting is simply too difficult, you can grab a spot underneath a seat to help hold yourself up. I find that grabbing the underside of the passenger seat with one hand helps me angle my butt away from my body.
If you’re down to party, go commando. It is INFINITELY easier and quicker to pee outdoors when you don’t have to deal with underwear. And by the way, you don’t need to worry about your ass getting cold when it’s exposed to the elements. The human ass is basically your body’s sleeved blanket, so dense with luscious fatty tissue that it will stay relatively warm even while it’s sailing out the window of your car as you pass a Trump/Pence bumper sticker in the cold November rain.
Relax and enjoy yourself. Another reason I prefer the crouch-squat to a pee device is that I find it very difficult to “let go” when standing up. (Unless submerged in a hot tub, in which case...you should probably leave the hot tub.) Take a Xanax, smoke a joint, do whatever you need to do to relax yourself for that first outdoor pee attempt.
Remember: In a worst-case scenario, you will pee on yourself a little, and that pee will dry and you won’t get sick or die from it. Remind yourself that nothing disgusting or terrible is going to happen to you. (Yes, I know you KNOW this, but clearly you need to be reminded or you wouldn’t have gotten this far in the article. Just do it. Aunt Mel said it’s okay.)
Take deep breaths. Meditate. Enjoy being outdoors; you are no longer chained to Le Toilet. Be mindful and enjoy the scenery. You may find, as I did, that you love peeing outdoors. Last weekend I peed outdoors in the backyard just because I didn’t feel like going inside. No longer do I worry about holding my bladder for hours and hours during a long hike or barn party. If I ever got invited to a barn party.
Bonus: Tips for Penis Owners
Not to brag, but I’ve spent a lot of time with drunk cis men pissing outdoors. I also spoke with several penis owners to acquire these additional tips.
Why y’all gotta hold it up? If you’re multitasking, like posting selfies or gazing through your binoculars at the hermit thrushes, feel free to just let the sucker go. (The penis, not the hermit thrush.) Push your hips out if you’re concerned about splash back (see below).
Pee away from the wind. Penis owners usually stand to pee, thus risking big splashes, but really, this tip is valuable for all genitals. If it’s windy, position yourself so that your genitals do not face the wind. It’s an easy one to forget, particularly if winds are mild. It still matters.
Don’t try to pee uphill. Again, once you start to do it, you’ll immediately realize why: splashback. Whenever possible, pee downhill, away from the wind.
Art by Gabriella Shery
Gabriella Shery is an illustrator, graphic designer, and comic artist from Brooklyn, New York. You can find her work on Instagram at @gabshery, or on her website at http://gabriellashery.com.
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Melanie LaForce is the author of the funny-awesome book Corn-Fed: Cul-de-Sacs, Keg Stands, and Coming of Age in the Midwest. Find her zine at reclusebabe.com; on IG @reclusebabeofficial, and Twitter @recluse_babe.