When I joined the Dallas Police Department in the early 1970s, women had just begun working as patrol officers. Dallas, like most other big-city police organizations, had employed female officers for several decades. Most of them worked in divisions dealing with wayward youths, personnel, and other office jobs. There were women detectives who investigated a variety of crimes, mainly sexual assaults and other crimes against women. But women in patrol; this was a first. They were now “on the street” which in cop-speak means exposed to all of the inherent dangers and occasional horrors out there. It meant that women officers would have to deal with drunks and other belligerents of both sexes, and the most potentially hazardous situations an officer can face – domestic disturbances and traffic stops.
As one can imagine, the advent of women as street cops met with skepticism on the part of the male officers, particularly the old heads. Two concerns were voiced. One was how could a woman deal with a belligerent large man who would not submit peaceably. That was particularly acute because most of the men involved in street confrontations with police were already insecure in their worth as human beings, let alone as male, and were consequently sexist. Many feared that a women arresting such a person could, and probably would, exacerbate the situation. The other concern was would male officers be able to rely on a female partner in a physically hazardous situation?
Those concerns, and others, to a large extent were excuses for the main one. That is, police work on the street was a men’s club and all that entails, some of the details of which need not be mentioned here. It was like the boys’ treehouse with the “no girls allowed” sign. Girls must now be admitted, and that caused anxiety among many of the boys.
There was one part of the all male culture that must be mentioned, since it was the inspiration for this essay. Late at night, and even in the day in the semi-rural parts of the city, it was often necessary for a patrol officer to relieve himself. Fire stations were available for calls of nature, as were 24 hour convenience stores and other such establishments. Bars were to be avoided; law officers preferred not to whizz alongside drunks they might have to arrest. Public restrooms in parks were available. While generally ill-maintained and nasty, they were OK for doing number one. For patrol beats along the river, the side (or top) of the levee was good enough, particularly at night. All of this was well and good for males, but, as we all know, the female anatomy makes standing up to pee difficult, and impossible if one is wearing trousers, at least insofar as not getting it all over your clothing. A woman, I suppose could make like the devil possessed girl in The Exorcist, but that would require wearing a dress or skirt and no underwear. It was pretty clear that women patrol officers could not otherwise function as police while wearing a skirt, though that was actually tried (it was the early ‘70s).
Now, I have to admit at the time this problem never really crossed my mind. I had a rather short stint in patrol before being assigned to CID, and never had a female partner. I heard of, but did not observe, one particularly feisty female officer who became a minor legend by claiming, and by an account, demonstrating, that she could stand up and pee as well as any man. The mechanics of that alleged feat were never entirely clear.
I hasten to add that policewomen are not the only group of females confronted with the pee problem. When camping, hiking, cycling, and even making long car trips, women have faced the dilemma of having to drop their drawers and squat, either behind a bush or in a poorly maintained, nasty public restroom, or hold it until they find decent facilities. The latter can become quite uncomfortable.
Now, forty years later, it appears that the battle for equality of the sexes has reached another milestone. An entrepreneur has finally come up with a simple, inexpensive, and practical device that allows a woman to stand up and pee. It is called a P-Mate® and is available for purchase on-line. A close female relative brought this to my attention, and I now bring it to the attention of whoever wishes to read this essay. This may be the last hurdle for sex equality. As a bonus, transsexuals wanting to become anatomically women need no longer fear this consequence, at least.
Note: the P-Mate® is a trademarked product. This essay does not endorse it over similar devices. (Neither does it endorse sex-change surgery; certainly not if publicly funded.) Many can be found on-line.