Why We Need More Than Period Underwear

The revolution will not be fertilized.

If you’ve been living here on planet earth for the last several weeks, you’ve seen the signs of a “menstrual revolution” on your newsfeeds, subway platforms, and pharmacy shelves. Periods are a natural part of life, and it feels like the world is finally coming around to accepting it. I’m a proud owner of a Diva Cup and Thinx underwear (and more), and I’m so glad to see these companies getting the attention they deserve. But changing how we treat our periods is just a prelude, not the revolution itself.

Can the coochies get an upgrade, please?!

Say something to a cis-gender guy about his balls and watch what he does. He’ll reflexively grab his sack, turn his knees inward, and hunch forward with a pained look. Just the mere thought of dickial damage will move him to action. It hurts to get kicked in the twat too, but thinking about it doesn’t make me cringe. Why? Perhaps those of us with functioning uteruses are accustomed to monthly doses of pain. Or maybe we’re just not taught to think of our parts as precious and in need of protection.

Dicks ride first class on Emirates, coochies are still on the Chinatown bus. Intersex and transgender genitals are hitchhiking somewhere out west. I believe that the fundamental difference in how we relate to our “privates” is putting us non-penis owners directly in harm’s way. And it’s way bigger than just periods.

What about the things we are putting in, on, or near our vaginas for the other 25 days each month?

We only have our periods for about three to five days per month during reproductive years. While those few days can feel hellacious, it’s still just a tiny fraction of our lives! And yet, there are products we use every single daythat pose a risk to our health, from cosmetics to nail polishsportswear tocleaning products and more. Women tend to have a higher rate of exposure to many of these chemicals than men do and carry those chemicals differently in the body. Furthermore, women of color are the most at risk.

One quick example: 1 in 4 women between 15 and 44 years old are still douching even though gynecologists unanimously agree that it’s bad for the poon’s natural ecosystem. Douching has also been linked to phthalate exposure, a chemical which may cause birth defects and other reproductive problems. And yet, the voices telling us that our vaginas are dirty and gross continue to be louder than science.

This is not about access to organic luxury items, it’s about gender and reproductive justice.

I make underwear that is coochie-friendly, meaning it is free of the tworiskiest chemicals used in textile manufacturing: azo dyes (approximately 70% of the dyes on the market) and fragrances (think about scented products like laundry detergent, toilet paper, sprays, and soaps). We know that these chemicals pose serious risks to human health and have a high chance of release onto the body. Furthermore, your underwear is meant to protect a sensitive and absorbent mucous membrane and gateway to the internal reproductive system.

I can totally understand people feeling overwhelmed and burnt out by the threats of cancer that seem to be everywhere. But that would not explain the many, many phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, etc. that I have received from men since the launch of my kickstarter campaign. They demand peni-friendly underwear, because they LOVE their balls and will do anything for them. Period.

Little boys learn to protect “the family jewels,” little girls learn not to talk about their vaginas.

My little brothers were taught to protect and care for the magical staff that would ensure our family’s legacy. I was supposed to be vigilant in guarding my non-jewel from male intruders who wanted to steal my virtue, but otherwise to be quiet about it. There wasn’t any mandate to protect this area as if it were an irreplaceable treasure upon which the survival of the species relied or, at the least, my health or pleasure. The only thing special and irreplaceable about my vagina was its virginity.

The devil is a lie about vaginas!

Have you heard the one about the vagina that looked like a caterpillar? Yea, me neither. But some guy decided to send me an email about it the other day. One stupid guy vagsplaining doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if you add up all these lies, myths and half-truths about vaginas, they are having an impact. From douching to sexual health, rape culture to underwear, we cannot allow others to shape these narratives for us. Vaginas are amazing and they deserve our love, support, devotion and protection every day, not just when we have our periods.

Protect Ya Puss

It’s not about buying my organic underwear or a menstrual cup, or anything else. It’s about elevating the status of cooters from sources of silent shame to Michelle Obamas. Protect yourself from toxic chemicals, toxic people, toxic ideas, toxic thoughts, and whatever other toxic influences have you feeling bad about your beave. Your cooch is worth it!