Women have broken through the glass ceiling in many areas. In this country, for instance, we've had two women prime ministers and a woman governor-general. We still have a woman chief justice.
In the sphere of travel, however, there are still a few barriers to be broken. In some countries, like Saudi Arabia, women can only visit if accompanied by a father or a husband.
Women certainly suffer more than men from the need to conform with local dress customs. In Iran, for example, that means wearing a scarf, long-sleeved coat and closed shoes, regardless of the heat.
There are also many parts of the world where Western women have to take particular care because the local males have the impression that any female on her own or casually dressed is signalling she wants sex.
And there's no doubt that male travellers have a huge advantage when it comes to relieving themselves. For women the process is a bit more complicated, making relief much harder to achieve. My wife has sometimes seemed quite aggrieved by my advantage in that respect.
But all that may be changed by the emergence of the Shewee, a device which claims to allow women to, well, wee standing up.
Needless to say, I couldn't test it myself, so I asked my big daughter Alex to give it a test-run.
Here is her report:
Did you know that she can now wee like a he with the help of a Shewee? The news should come as a great relief to all travelling women because, let's face it, when it comes to the essentials necessary for an enjoyable trip, loos are at the top of the list.
I remember during a visit to Venice when I desperately needed to pee. After searching for half an hour, I was actually in physical pain and could barely walk until finally coming across a male urinal.
It was no mean feat balancing myself over the hole without actually touching anything, I can tell you. I was far more terrified of falling into the urinal than of a man walking in and seeing my bare bottom. Oh, how I wish I had had a Shewee then. Of course back then, this wonderful device didn't exist. But as soon as I heard about the Shewee, I got one and took it on a trip to Australia. It was great.
This transtasman test-run quickly demonstrated the Shewee is not only extremely useful in unhygienic toilets, but also when there are no toilets at all. There is no need for crouching behind bushes, hanging over the side of a boat or hiding behind the car on the roadside. I can now stand up and do it like a man.
To pee with a Shewee you just unzip your trousers (or lift your skirt) and push your underwear to one side. The Shewee is then placed so that it fits securely against your body and the spout is angled into a toilet, a collecting device or on to the ground. It's made of a liquid-resistant plastic, so that with a quick shake it is dry and ready to store or reuse. At only 17cm long and barely a few grams, the Shewee can be stowed almost anywhere. I wouldn't be without one when travelling.
The Shewee is available online or at outdoor stores nationwide for $19.90, or you can pick up a new Kiwi Shewee Extreme online for $29.90.
- Jim Eagles
Pictured above: The Shewee is designed to address the issue of tricky toileting. Photo / Dean Purcell