Don Hazen has an article up on AlterNet today opposing the use of “douchebag” as an insult. Douchebag, he says, is a sexist term:
I don’t see the increased use of a sexist term related to women sanitizing their vaginas as a mark of progress. The word’s street meaning, as described in the gritty urban dictionary: “The douche bag is a total moron and doesn’t think before he speaks or acts,” makes the gendered meaning all too apparent — and repugnant.
This is an argument I’ve heard before, and one that at least a handful of feminists espouse. But personally, I’m happy to see the douchebag demonized. Unlike a lot of other common insults — “bitch,” “cunt,” “retard,” “fag” — “douchebag” actually insults something that deserves to be insulted. Douching is terrible for women; it can lead to infection and irritation. Even teen magazines will tell you this! Douches exist only because women have been told that our bodies are unclean. Douches, and the bags that reportedly accompany them, are terrible, no-good products. Insulting douches doesn’t insult women — the existence of douches insults women.
The term douchebag, too, is also directed as a certain type of dude. It implies a particular parody of masculinity, or it’s the total smarm-ball. Either way, there seems to be a pretty direct correlation between douchebags and bad behavior toward women. Part of the schtick is being condescending and macho and establishing yourself as an alpha male at the expense of women (who are lesser beings by their very existence, and who exist to prop up the douchebag’s ego), and at the expense of other men. The douchebag is a classist misogynist; he’s notably different from your run-of-the-mill tool or blow-hard. Pick-up artists, for example, are most certainly douchebags.
So I say: Hate the douche. Insult the douche. Mock and vilify the douche. My only request is that when we define “douche,” we no longer use the term “feminine hygeine product.” Ain’t nothing hygenic about it.
Thanks to Adam for the link.
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