PEEING IN THE STREETS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve been reading about an urban problem that I thought was solved with the invention of the indoor toilet. Apparently, Paris is so plagued by men peeing in the streets, that they have taken action to mitigate the worst effects of this phenomenon.

In the Middle Ages in Europe, people emptied bedpans out their windows onto the streets below. Then indoor plumbing made this practice obsolete. So walking on the street became less dangerous and unpredictable, But it seems that even today, men don’t accept the concept of exclusively indoor, bathroom urinating. They still want to relieve themselves wherever and whenever they want. Including on public streets.

This public peeing creates two separate problems, affecting two of the senses. First, there’s the problem of odors permeating public streets, often in upscale and tourist neighborhoods. Then there’s the visual assault of people having to watch men peeing in public.

The City Council of Paris has addressed the problem. Their solution was to install urinals around Paris to discourage pedestrians from relieving themselves randomly on the streets of the city.

Enter the ‘Uritrottoir’, or sidewalk urinal. It’s bright red, is free-standing and open on all sides. It’s filled with straw and uses the nitrogen and other chemicals in the urine to produce organic compounds. This supposedly eliminates odors. That may at least solve the smell problem.

But Parisians are complaining that the open design of the urinals does not prevent passersby, including tourists on Seine cruises, from having to watch men relieving themselves. Sensitive Parisians also dislike the bold design and color of the urinals. They are considered an eyesore, particularly in historic and quaint areas.

Apparently, public urination has always been a problem, around the world. Some cities in Germany have come up with more creative ways to discourage public peeing. In Munich, there’s a walkway between the soccer stadium and the subway which suffers from a disproportionate amount of drunken peeing. So the city is looking to install a long strip of un-planted flower beds that would go over a giant tank. It would have bark chips in it to reduce odor so men could pee in it at will.

I like Hamburg’s solution better. Some locals in Hamburg have been coating the walls of buildings in ‘splash creating, urine retardant’ paint. This paint is used in ship hulls. What it does is coat the urinater in his own pee.

Poetic justice!

I don’t understand the psychology of men who do this. Women don’t have the option and they manage to hold it in until they find a bathroom. What is wrong with men? Do they feel entitled? Do they have no modesty or shame? Are parents remiss when they toilet train their sons? WTF!

I’m also appalled that this is a universal problem in 2018. I guess we are not as evolved as I hoped.

I didn’t need another reason to be grateful that I left the city and moved to the country. I guess the universe wanted me to feel particularly good about abandoning urban life.

I have to watch my dogs pee in the backyard, but that’s not an affront to civilization.

Men peeing on city streets is.

44 thoughts on “PEEING IN THE STREETS – BY ELLIN CURLEY”

  1. A French friend of mine who now lives in California (SF I think) just wrote a very similar article and uses many of the same photographs, too. Her opinion and yours are VERY similar, except she speaks as someone who grew up in Paris. I’m going to publish hers in a few days, just for the amusement of two remarkably similar perspectives on the same theme: MEN PEEING everywhere. If you can read French, she has links to articles in French. My French isn’t quite good enough anymore. It was not bad many years ago, but I’ve lost it over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve seen many articles about this subject too. I wrote about it because it really offends me and ties in with Trump’s destruction of civilized society. I know it’s been going on forever, but it seems to have gotten under my skin now.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Many years ago I was in Paris as a teenager. I was impressed by their then solution to this problem — pissoirs were large “kiosks” — men walked in, did their thing against a center column, and walked out with no disturbance to the public. As I remember, the centers even had water running down them like waterfalls, so the pee was washed away as it happened.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve seen photos of the pissoirs in Paris but I don’t remember seeing them when I was there. Maybe I just accepted them as part of the landscape. But if Paris already had the pissoirs, why did they need these new pee boxes?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “The Last Time I Saw Paris” (’54/MGM) Elizabeth Taylor, Van Johnson, Donna Reed, Walter Pidgeon. Dir: Vincente Minelli.

        Like

  3. That is gross. Apart from the smell I really don’t want to see people urinating. Even in the country where there are not so many public toilets and you might be caught short they could at least go behind a tree or something. Men, well at least some men, don’t seem to worry about being seen peeing. I don’t know why. It is just plain weird. I do love the idea of the urine retardent paint though.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tas, I have 2 shares here.

      1) TV News — “WEE hours” on location: I worked the “Dawn Patrol Shift” for many years, early morning reporter for TV News. We had numerous live shots of “breaking news”. We couldn’t leave our spot because of “on camera” demands. “Nature” beckoned frequently, especially on those cold, wintry dawns BEFORE the rooster crowed. I usually found the nearest clump of bushes and, discreetly, took care of “business”. One of the other reporters, famously known as “The Storm Queen”, apparently had me in fixed view. She stared at me hard as I zipped up my pants and snarled, cigarette dangling from her lips, “You…MEN!” I shrugged my shoulders and grabbed the mic for my next live shot.

      2) FENWAY PARK – For many years this “Baseball Cathedral” offered the big old fashion urinals that served multiple occupants. I was a little “put off” the first few times I had to relieve myself in the company of strangers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Interesting that Fenway Park had the French style public urinals. Maybe New York and other big cities should try them too. ANything is better than men relieving themselves wherever and whenever they please.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ellin, OY the stench. Especially in the grandstands just above the urinals. Never mentioned by the broadcasters. They have their private bathrooms. I got to use the corporate bathroom by and by. Fancy schmancy and sweet smelling. it’s disconcerting when you’re stared at in those public urinals. TV fans??

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      2. It’s good to get the male perspective and I think the key word here is “discreet” . When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go but it’s hard for me to understand the people Ellin wrote about who just don’t care. In your colleague’s place I would have looked away to give you some semblance of privacy.
        When David and I used to go on steam train trips to country locations when we were young we sometimes stopped at places with no facilities and then the rule was “men to the right, women to the left” of the tracks if nature called. I just used to hang on until we got to a station. My bladder was better in those days!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Tas, My TV news colleague was “old school”.. She was good naturedly giving me a hard time. All of us working news, in the field, bemoaned the lack of facilities when urgently needed. The “suits” back in the office didn’t care.

          Liked by 1 person

    2. Maybe men are okay with people watching them pee, because that’s what happens in every men’s room in the world. Men stand side by side and pee together. Strangers. So it’s a small step to standing in the street and peeing where multiple strangers can see you. And men are very free talking about and joking about body parts and body functions, sex, etc. Is it nature or nurture? Who knows.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ellin, I’m never okay with “company” in the men’s room. I always try to distance myself if there are multiple stalls. I hate it when someone smiles at me. Usually it’s the “Aren’t you that guy…”. But, then, there are the guys with the prevert grins. Yech!!
        Ellin, what inspired this post?

        Like

        1. Women get to have privacy in stalls in public bathrooms. I never understood why men couldn’t have stalls too. Why do men have to use open air urinals side by side in their bathrooms? Who decided that? And when?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I recall reading in the letters page of a womens magazine years ago about a communal toilet at some country event where there were no stalls. The women using it all sang loudly so no men would enter.

            Like

  4. When we lived in Paris they had the pissoires. That gave some privacy to the situation. I remember driving through some nice area in Calcutta and there was a sign that said “for God’s sake don’t piss here”. The problem is universal. The more street people there are, more the problem. There is a public health issue here too.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting that you lived in Paris. Was that as wonderful as it sounds? I’ve visited many times but never had the desire to live there. My favorite city is London. And maybe Bruges, if that counts as a city. Amsterdam is lovely too, and very relatable and friendly and livable. I wonder what the Dutch do about peeing in the streets. I’m going to look it up!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Both Peter and I agree that the year in Paris was a high light in our lives. We did a lot of walking and you never ran out of art galleries, museums or entertainment.
        The Dutch are very civilized. I would be very surprised it they didn’t have some form of public washrooms.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m jealous of your time in Paris. I would have loved to live in Europe somewhere for a year. I love the sense of history and the fact that everywhere you look there is something aesthetic or historical to see. Never a dull walk. I also like European public transportation. Clean and efficient. I won’t Take the subway in NYC anymore unless I absolutely have to!

          Liked by 2 people

          1. We used the metro extensively when we were there. We didn’t have a car. We did rent one on several occasions when we went to Chambord. Then we also went to Grenoble then did a round trip to Italy and back. Other than that we stuck to public transit.

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  5. One thing that America hasn’t sunk to at least. My brother went to Japan in the early 1980s and was startled by this peeing phenomenon. Being from Utah (which was pretty sheltered in them days) it was indeed a visual assault and an assault on sensibilities as well I think. At least the Japanese peed in the gutters…. but wow. I cannot imagine such a thing, even were I not a woman and less apt to do some public peeing like that. Just nasty, but I applaud the creative solutions..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cee, I hesitate to share. But share, I will. During my Vietnam tour as a reporter, I noticed one of the things you don’t see in those John Wayne war epics. Guys COMPLETELY taking of business and using leaves to clean themselves. S/F.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. At least the Japanese men were civilized and considerate enough to pee in the gutter, not on the streets. But the visual and the smell problems still exist.

      Liked by 2 people

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