Women deal with a lot of sexism and obstacles here on earth, so it makes sense that this sexism would follow them in to space. The first woman went into space in 1963, but it took another two decades for female astronauts to become common. Turns out there's a glass ceiling even outside of the earth's orbit.
Apparently, there is a myth that NASA took so long to send women into space because of how women go to the bathroom?!
Recently, author Mary Robinette Kowal published an essay called “To Make It to the Moon, Women Have to Escape Earth's Gender Bias" exploring the ways in which sexism here on earth prevented women from making strides in space. In response to her essay, she says several people claimed that "women couldn't go into space because we lacked the technology for them to pee in space."
In a Twitter thread that has gone viral, Kowal disproves this myth by breaking down the truth about how astronauts go to the bathroom in space.
It has all the info. on peeing and pooping outside the earth's orbit that you never knew you always wanted.
Let's talk about peeing in space. Several people, in response to my NY Times essay, have said that women couldn't… https://t.co/3pHi0wfpps— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559259.0
At first, she explains, doctors didn't think anyone, man or woman, would be able to pee without gravity.
The first space mission was meant to take only 15 minutes so no arrangements for peeing were made. Of course, things did not go according to plan.
When Alan Shepherd became the first American man to go into space, it was scheduled to be a fifteen-minute mission.… https://t.co/dulR9GjCY0— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559260.0
So the first guy to go into space had a suit full of pee. What a trooper.
Launchpad delays meant that Shepherd hit a point where he needed to go. Badly. He asked Mission Control for permi… https://t.co/RC2Qx8KVqi— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559260.0
Then a condom-like apparatus was invented to catch the pee. It didn't work.
Later, they solved this problem by developing a sheath, that looked much like a condom. It worked great in testin… https://t.co/H5fc030L8K— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559261.0
Turns out, the reason it didn't work is that men were lying about the size of pee-condom they needed. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
The sheaths came in small, medium, and large. It turns out, the men were all saying that they needed a Large sheath… https://t.co/hFtVwjE54g— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559261.0
There was also a bag for poo. But this solution was flawed and there was still pee and poop in the space capsule. EW.
They had to tape a bag to their ass to poop. That worked well for Gemini and Mercury. And by well, I mean there w… https://t.co/z2A827BNg4— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559262.0
So a device was invented that would suck astronauts' pee out into space. Take that, aliens!
Alas, they still had to poop into a bag, but for peeing, they could slip on a condom attached to a valve, turn the… https://t.co/nj9v9TfWcN— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559262.0
This, too, was flawed. But at least it was pretty!
Open the valve a fraction too late, and urine escaped to float around the cabin. Open it too early and the vacuum… https://t.co/wwlKpOUEMM— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559263.0
So they switched back to pee-condoms.
For the spacewalks, the Apollo astronauts were back to condoms that collected the pee in a bag in the suit. Buzz… https://t.co/aDNFKjcftu— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559263.0
Still, the pee-condoms solution was flawed. Remember when Fred Haise got sick in the movie Apollo 13? Well apparently it's because his genitals were bathing in pee.
This detail for some reason didn't make it in to the movie.
During Apollo13, everyone who has seen the movie knows that Fred Haise got sick. Do you know why, though? After th… https://t.co/k5ywcOfVbe— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559263.0
The alternate system caused droplets to float around the ship. Mission Control told them to stop dumping pee. It w… https://t.co/AsVS3lhSoP— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559264.0
The fastest option was to store it in the collection bags they wore in their suits. Haise kept his on for hours and… https://t.co/89NL2BBaI7— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559264.0
After decades of dudes going into space with pee-soaked genitals, NASA decided to send women into space. Finally!
Now they needed to come up with a method for peeing in space that didn't involve pee-condoms, since women can't wear condoms. Their solution? A diaper.
Finally, a decade later, NASA decides to send women into space. NOW they have a reason to come up with how to handl… https://t.co/Kmz9mi8wiV— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559265.0
They also got rid of the ass-bag and replaced it with a zero-gravity toilet!
The men switched over to using those because it was more comfortable and less prone to leave pee floating around th… https://t.co/mj33F1ux7L— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559265.0
Even in 2019, peeing and pooping in space is not an easy process. Pooping in particular requires some, umm, involvement.
Peeing or pooping in space is now a lengthy process, involving a fan, a targeting system, and a fair amount of pray… https://t.co/LtPnRPahYA— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559266.0
Peeing is easier though. Until the toilet breaks down. Apparently that happens.
Peeing is a little more straightforward. It's basically a funnel, a tube, a bag, and a fan for suction. Sometimes… https://t.co/m5USwIBFzv— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559266.0
Fun fact: these fun facts might make you nauseous.
During a malfunction, it is also possible for a giant floating globe of pee to exit the toilet. Fun fact: Due to… https://t.co/q2P4gozfx3— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559266.0
In conclusion: we can stop blaming the slow advancement of women in space exploration on peeing and pooping.
All of which is to say that the reason women didn't go into space had nothing to do with lacking the technology to… https://t.co/jl1SjMZrEk— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563559267.0
It's not peeing and pooping's fault. Because peeing and pooping in space is a nightmare for everyone, regardless of your gender or genitalia. Now that's equality!
After her thread went viral, Kowal was bombarded with questions about bodily functions in space. She answered them. SHE HAS ALL THE FACTS.
Burping in space sounds painful.
Addendum with some FAQs: What about Farting in space? - It does not propel you. Astronauts have tried. What about… https://t.co/HpHcCEmFnm— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563563807.0
Thank Goddess for tampons, especially if you're a female astronaut!
What about periods in space? - According to women who have been there, "It's just like a period on Earth." It turn… https://t.co/n3Zdg5h1oM— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563563808.0
Fun fact: men don't understand how periods work.
Fun fact: When Sally Ride was preparing to go into space, NASA engineers asked her if 100 tampons would be the righ… https://t.co/yltYboOONe— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563563809.0
Astronauts need a schedule so they know when to go!
Fun fact: Gravity creates most of the sense of urgency for peeing, so in microgravity, astronauts can't always tell… https://t.co/Hjjit9iF3l— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563563809.0
There is a pee ritual involving a tire.
Fun fact: When Yuri Gargarin was on his way to the launch pad, he realized the suit-up had taken so long that he ne… https://t.co/0GjRi0kHbu— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563563810.0
FUN FACT: BUY HER BOOK. Seriously though, this woman really knows her shit (and pee, tee hee).
Self-promotion Disguised as a Fun Fact: In my novel #TheFatedSky, I have an ENTIRE CHAPTER about a zero-g toilet re… https://t.co/pRZAcSuBaA— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563564900.0
Sometimes it is harder to be a man. Lol. (But only sometimes)
FAQ: Erections in space? Officially, it's never happened. However, according to Mike Mullane in his book, Riding R… https://t.co/gK3tGXF0xq— Mary Robinette Kowal (@Mary Robinette Kowal)1563565518.0
THE MORE YOU KNOW.
Never have I been more grateful for my decision to pursue comedy writing in lieu of space travel.
This article originally appeared on SomeeCards. You can read it here.
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