Body functions in books aka protagonists pee too!

thoughtsQuick!  Name the last book that you read that the MC went to the bathroom.  Can’t think of one?  I doubt you are alone.  

For me the book that immediately comes to mind are Tamora Pierce books.  Not all of them include this little detail, but most do.  The female protagonists even have periods!  

It might seem weird, but just the off-handed comment about the main character going to the bathroom or needing to pack extra clothes right before a last minute trip because they are expecting their period makes me super happy.  It makes the protagonists real people!  It doesn’t demonize the fact that as a woman I have a period and have to think about the consequences of that.  It normalizes menstruation for young girls who are self conscious of it.  

The fact that most authors ignore this very common, realistic, mandatory body function frustrates me.  Your main character eats, otherwise readers would find it weird that they didn’t so why can’t they also go to the toilet?  Sure there is a bit of a taboo about this, but including it, as I mentioned before, normalizes it and actually helps young people with their body image. 

Don’t know how to include it in your story?

How often have you had an interesting conversation in the washroom?  If you are in high school, a setting in many contemporary books, I would hazard it would be fairly often because you have some limited privacy there.  When you are about to go into battle battle or slay a dragon how likely is it to have a nervous bladder?  A long run from a monster poses a challenge for woman that men don’t tend to have.  Ditto long treks or hikes or journeys with a mixed group of woman and men.

Just think of all the awkward situations you can get your characters into!  Think of the plotting potential!


8 thoughts on “Body functions in books aka protagonists pee too!

  1. I’ve wondered about this on occasion too! I think first of Tamora Pierce’s books and that oh too funny scene involving Alanna’s first period. The only other book I can think of is during A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland when one character’s period makes itself known – a very funny scene as well. Then there are some books that incorporate some or all stages of conception to birth (breech or normal).

    But I think showing bodily functions – periods, eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, sweating, pregnancy, sex, puberty/acne, farting, crying, burping, etc – in books is half subjective, half is it/anything happening/being said imperative to the story.

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  2. I just read an adult sci-fi that talked a little too much about, er, bodily functions–at least of the male variety. Funny, though, I don’t recall it mentioning the female things! 🤔 But I DO remember those scenes in Tamora Pierce’s books!! It was a comfort, to me, knowing that even awesome female knights have periods lol Thoughtful post my friend!

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  3. haha I can think of a few- the cherub series is a great example where the protagonists do actually go to the toilet. And while I personally think this isn’t necessary in books- it does humanise the characters a lot. And yes, Tamora Pierce does that and so does the Pellinor series. And in my opinion contemporaries are really great at educating young girls (particularly Judy Blume- I know if I have daughters I’ll be subtly directing them towards those books for sure). I definitely agree that it’s good to normalise it, but I have to be honest, I’m perfectly happy that not all books do this. It’s a bit like everything really- it’s fine in moderation and in some circumstances- but not all the time. I personally don’t want to see this in every book and there are plenty of reasons not to include it (like when you want to create idealistic characters that are somewhat more than human). To my mind, it just doesn’t fit in every book or genre. If this actually became a trend I swear I would just stop reading modern books altogether! Sorry for getting carried away with this- I guess I didn’t realise how strongly I felt about this until I read your post haha!

    Liked by 1 person

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