i’ve noticed that the word ‘douche’ or ‘douchebag’ is being used quite a bit by even my most intimate circle of friends to denote ‘a person or attitude that is unpleasant or uncaring’. and M remarked a while back that she’s not particularly fond of it and doesn’t use it herself, because she thinks it’s misogynistic.
i don’t use those kinds of phrases much, mostly if i’m going to call anyone a bad name i call them an ass[hole]. this is surely unfairly denigrating that most important part of us upright striding beings, but it is absolutely universal and doesn’t single any group out over any other. [bastard=children of unmarried parents, bitch=women, dick=men, etc…] i’ve also tried to scrub out of my language words that evoke the struggles that some people face every day [lame, retard, crazy, etc. i struggle with crazy, and do slip up with that one. it’s mostly because i haven’t quite decided how much i can legitimately reclaim it as someone who has a lot of mental illness in my life. but that’s another post.]
so douche. it’s a pejorative term. its literal meaning is “a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself.” (thanks wikipedia) but obviously most of the time it’s used to irrigate the vagina.
now, most hippie womens’ health texts do not encourage the practice of douching. most of my friends are hippies of some sort or another. so, they might be using this phrase pejoratively because they personally think that the practice of douching is bad, bad for women, bad for vaginas. so they might be using it in a way that’s not misogynist.
but [there’s always a but!] given the phrase’s widespread acceptance in straight culture, i’m going to hypothesize that M is right, and that the reason that ‘douche’ is considered an appropriate way to heap scorn upon someone is that people think that vaginas are gross. not that douches are gross.
and that’s misogynist.
so i don’t use douche, and i kind of wish that no one did, kind of like i wish that many fewer people casually used ‘bitch’ to describe their female co-workers/ex-best-friends/difficult female relatives.