The vagina is an important part of life. You need to wash your hands, brush your teeth and take a shower. I’m talking about our so-called “feminine hygiene,” which is often neglected by men. Here’s a guide to keeping your lady bits clean and fresh so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle for years to come.
There’s no such thing as a vagina or a vulva for that matter.
You’re already great at calling out people for using the wrong terms for female body parts. You know that vagina is not a medical term and that vulva isn’t either, so please do us all a favor and stop using them as such. The words ‘vagina’ and ‘vulva’ are not scientific or medical terms: they were coined by people who don’t have vaginas (or vulvas) themselves to describe their own anatomy in a way they thought was more appropriate, but they’re not accurate or helpful if you want to talk about someone else’s body parts.
So why do we keep using these words? Well, it seems like we have several reasons:
- because they’re established terms in our language;
- because some trans men still use them when talking about their bodies;
- and because many women experience discomfort with having another person touch their genitals specifically during gynecological exams/checkups by doctors who know nothing about sex or consent (which is pretty much every doctor).
The ‘it’ is, of course, the all-encompassing term for the region from where you pee to where you have sex and have babies.
The vagina, which is the most commonly used word for the female reproductive system and/or its anatomical parts, is a body part.
It can be useful to be able to distinguish between ‘vagina’ as both an anatomical term and a gender identity.
Anatomy: Our bodies are made up of many different kinds of structures that work together to make us who we are. One such structure is called the human reproductive system—it includes our sex organs and produces eggs or sperm needed for reproduction (like when parents make more kids). The reproductive system also produces hormones that help keep us healthy throughout our lives by controlling things like puberty, fertility, and menstrual cycles—and these hormones can change if something goes wrong with one part of it like cancer treatment drugs or too much alcohol consumption over time leading up until now too long ago even now just recently due this past weekend so far back when where?
It’s just not anatomically correct.
You may have heard the term before, but it’s time for a quick lesson about what “feminine hygiene” actually means.
- It’s not a medical term.
- It’s not a scientific term.
- And it doesn’t even make sense when you think about the definition of “hygiene” as being something that’s done to keep things clean and orderly. In other words: female hygiene products are just another example of women being made to feel ashamed of their bodies yet again!
Because as much as cultural norms would like you to think that everyone with a vulva is female and everyone with a penis is male
There are trans men who have vulvas. There are non-trans women who have penises. There are non-trans women who have both penises and vulvas. There are also non-trans dudes with—you guessed it!—vulvas too.
If you’re not convinced yet, consider this: The word “female” refers to an adult female animal or human being of any age from birth to death (or even beyond) who is biologically capable of giving birth and is not pregnant at the moment; its meaning has nothing to do with gender expression, sexual identity, genitals or any other physical characteristic for that matter!
While we don’t know why certain body parts develop in one way but not another (maybe God was feeling generous when he decided what would show up on your run-of-the-mill female human), the fact remains that most people assume “female” means “vagina only” because those two things seem inseparable in our culture—and anyone who has ever owned a vagina knows this is far from true!
Not all trans men have penises; not all trans women have vulvas.
You may have heard that trans women are “born in the wrong body,” but that’s not entirely accurate. Trans women are actually born with female anatomy—that is, they have vulvas instead of penises and ovaries instead of testicles.
Trans men have penises and testicles. They can be born with either male or female genitalia, or they can transition from having one to having the other through surgery.
There are many ways to express your gender identity; this is just one type among many! As we’ve discussed before, not all trans men have penises; not all trans women have vulvas! These terms simply refer to different types of bodies (and therefore different experiences) for those who identify as trans and nonbinary. Your gender identity doesn’t change based on what kind of genitals you were born with—so if you’re unsure about how to talk about yourself using these terms, don’t stress out!
And non-trans women — both cisgender women and trans women — aren’t sure whether they should shave or wax their pubic hair (and many do not).
If you’re a woman and have a vagina, then you should know that pubic hair is normal. YOU are normal. YOU have a right to feel good about your body and its natural functions — including the fact that you may need to shave or wax your pubic hair for whatever reason (or no reason at all).
So what does this mean for non-trans women? It means that yes, even though we may be cisgender (i.e., our gender identity matches the sex assigned at birth), we can still have pubic hair. We can still have vaginas, vulvas, labia majora, and minora — whatever words make sense for your personal anatomy! And if any of these are making you uncomfortable in some way (or making another person uncomfortable), it’s important that those feelings get addressed so they don’t affect how happy or confident we feel about ourselves physically or mentally.
So instead of saying ‘feminine hygiene,’ maybe consider ‘hygiene for people with vaginas,
To be clear: there are many ways to be a woman and many ways to be a man. There are also many ways to be a person with a vagina and many ways to be a person without one. This applies to penises as well. A lot of people hear ‘feminine hygiene’ and think it’s just for women, but what if I told you that there are some men who menstruate? What if I told you that some men have vaginas? I know it sounds strange at first, but it makes sense if you think about it—a lot of people don’t always identify with gender binaries (like me). And when we use language like “feminine hygiene,” we erase the existence of these people by making their biological needs seem insignificant or unimportant.
Expand your vocabulary when it comes to vaginas and pubic hair.
The words we use to talk about our bodies and their associated experiences and functions are important. The way we speak affects the way we think, which in turn affects the way we live. This is especially true when it comes to our vaginas and pubic hair.
We should be mindful of how language can affect someone’s self-perception, especially when it comes to body parts that have historically been stigmatized or shamed by society at large (and sometimes even within the LGBTQ community). If you’ve ever used words like “smelly” or “disgusting” when referring to your own vaginal odor, it’s time for a change!
Expand your vocabulary when it comes to vaginas and pubic hair: instead of saying something like “that’s so gross,” try explaining why certain actions would be considered unattractive—like eating boogers or picking at pimples (both things people do with their fingers).
So let’s all stop saying “feminine hygiene products.” They’re not just for women, and they don’t just relate to vaginas or vulvas. Instead of focusing on the gender-specific body parts that these products might be used for, why not focus on what they do? After all, we all have a vagina — whether or not it has a penis attached.