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“He’ll have to stop to take care of his mangina,” Dan commented about a cyclist in the next hotel room who he jokingly perceived as a very likely DNF (Did Not Finish) candidate.

My natural inclination was to hurl whatever was in my hand (a chunk of bread) at Dan’s head. And I indulged myself.  My glutenous missile hit target with a satisfying plunk. Unfortunately, the two subsequent launches were batted away.

It was the night before the 330-mile gravel road Trans Iowa race, and Dan, Joe, and I were drinking IPA’s, slouching on hotel furniture, doing Hulk Hogan impressions, futzing with bikes, and giving each other crap at any given chance.

Even though I was enjoying my participation the pre-game brodeo, a line was crossed. Since, on this particular night, I was employing my best sailor mouth, I could tell that Dan was confused with my bread attack.

Saying that a man has a vagina, or mangina, is a nonsensical manner of attributing weakness. In this case, at an endurance gravel road race event, it especially struck me as incongruent.  A couple of years ago, I raced the 200-mile gravel road race Dirty Kanza with a sausage party of 175. Only 40% of the field finished, and I was a finisher.  I completed the race due to strategy, tenacity, and fitness. What do you think of my vagina now?

I have to give Dan a lot of credit. It seemed that he had never really thought about the term “mangina,” and actually understood my explanation (after I stopped throwing bread). Taking in consideration that his wife can put the smack down when they road bike together, it didn’t take long for the light to go on.

The rest of the weekend was marked by comments like, “Man, that guy must have hella labia.” And so on. Yes, the follow-up commentary was funny and a bit tongue in cheek, but underneath I knew that my point had hit target, just like my flying bread chunk.

I have come to find out that this interesting phenomenon of associating vaginas with weakness/physical failure is actually quite common among male cyclists and mountain bikers, even in “progressive” Portland circles (though usually not in front of women—akin to saying the f-word behind your parent’s back). While on a mountain bike ride, I overheard these guys, who were not especially fast, characterizing each other as having vaginas as a way of calling each other pansies, in typical dude banter.

This was particularly hilarious to me because I incidentally met their wives at a BBQ afterwards. One of these guys is supported almost entirely by his wife’s high-power lawyer job. The other guy would never have the labia to ridicule another guy as having a vagina in front of his wife…because she would hand him his ass clear and true.

So why this need to call other guys weak by saying they have a vagina? It’s apparent that women can kill it on a bike (hello, Reve Tour!). And any given man who says another man has a mangina can most likely be whooped by a female cyclist somewhere.

Some might say, “Dude, it’s just funny.”

I would respond that, no, it’s not. It doesn’t make sense and is disconcerting to me, owner of a very powerful vagina. By all means, I’m not a fan of standing on some self-righteous box and ordering folks what or what not to say. Yuck. Lord knows that doesn’t work on me. But, I will say that the practical effect of using the turn of phrase “mangina” is making the speaker look like a complete ass, in my opinion.

When men make mangina comments to each other, in little whispers so their wives and girlfriends can’t hear, it seems to me a clear indicator that something is lacking in that man’s true confidence in his own manhood. A man telling another man that he has a vagina as a tactic of degradation is a weak, flaccid, and transitory way of trying to prove manliness, as opposed to actually being a man and comfortably, unconsciously displaying man-status where the rubber hits the road.

Grow some labia, boys. Be man enough to stop proving you don’t have a vagina by saying that someone else does. Or, at the least, clit up and continue ridiculing each other as having manginas in front of your partners and females friends if you feel it’s truly right. You might be sad when you look up and find you are only in the company of bonafide dicks.


PS Mangina-themed soap advert capitalizing on insecure men.


No Responses to “Man Vagina: Do you have one?”

  1. Celeste

    A perfect argument, made with enough humor to stop the “because it’s funny” dudes in their tracks. You rock. Thank you for this.

  2. ladyfleur

    “look up and find you are only in the company of bonafide dicks” << Love it!

    Mangina is just the latest slang for "pussy." The assumption is that the last thing a man would want to be is a girl. Offensive, of course. I doubt they'd use an ethnic slur this way.

    I'm so sensitive to these terms and the underlying assumption that I don't even say wussy or wuss anymore since it's a corruption of pussy. I also don't talk about guys being "girled" when a woman beats them because it reinforces the same belief pattern.

    It's also one reason I worked hard to cultivate groups of women to ride with. The guy talk isn't fun for me, even when manginas and pussys don't come up. Too much smack talk and thinly veiled competition much of the time.

  3. Erin

    This is great! In high school, I was quite the XC and track star, often training with the boys. After one race, when a boy came to the tarp complaining that he’d done so poorly that he’d “grown breasts,” I promptly pointed out that I and my breasts had completely crushed his time. Oooo that made me so mad.

  4. Paul Lieberman

    You’ll be happy to know that in many years of both mountain bike and road riding with a mostly male crowd, I’ve never heard that kind of talk. Not saying it doesn’t happen, but I guess my friends and I are just too old. So I’m thinking you’re just dealing with a bunch of boys who haven’t quite grown up yet. I admit there was I time when I thought I had to beat all of the women up the hills, but now I’ve come to expect that any reasonably fit younger women, and quite a few my age and older, are going to kick my ass on a hard climb.
    It also really helps having spent the last 38 years with a woman who wouldn’t accept that kind of crap for a minute and who long ago helped me to outgrow the childish behavior we learned as boys.

  5. Wayne Myer

    As a former sensitive new age guy and long-time self-loathing misandrist, I can identify with how such talk is offensive. But to offer some perspective, humorous (to us males) and amicably adversarial banter is normative between human males of many, if not almost all, cultures. Such insults are not to say that a male has a female genitals so much as he is lacking male genitalia.

    And I think it is pretty fair to say that all humans are a little insecure about insufficient or loss of primary or secondary sexual characteristics. Yes, men are insecure. And so are women. Insecurities are funny, and part and parcel of the human condition. Kind of like how all comedy = suffering + time. Hm… kinda like a brevet. Okay, now I’m just making odd connections.

  6. Andy

    You are misappropriating its use as an attack on feminism, having acknowledged that 1) as friends you were “giving each other crap,” and 2) that the term’s itself is “a nonsensical manner of attributing weakness.” This indicates to me that you were all on an equal playing field, as in no one genuinely felt that he/she was superior to the other, and that Dan’s express motive wasn’t to take pot-shots at the female gender.

    As Cro-Magnon as it may have been to belittle the “DNF” in such manner, it’s purpose was to start a pissing contest in order to establish alpha male dominance, not to make women feel inferior. In that case, blame him for name-calling, not sexism.

    The bread attack was unwarranted. Physical actions such as the one you exhibited show that you’re incapable of civilized discourse and refute the stereotypical perception that women are emotional, irrational beings.



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