The case against douchebag

Posted in Being a Feminist, Language by Dizzy on March 31, 2009

I’ll be honest, I love saying douchebag. I love the way it sounds, the way it stings. I love that there’s a punchy insulting word for a completely self-unaware fool who doesn’t know shit about what he’s talking about but tries REALLY HARD to seem like he does. It’s about freakin time.

I had long refused to go anywhere near that word for obvious reasons, but then I noticed feminists were using it in their blogs. Some commenters responded with genuine confusion about it, to which supporters posited the following argument (as I understood it): a real vagina-cleansing douchebag is a literal, physical patriarchical tool, so calling a dude a douchebag is really the same as calling him a tool except with loads more ironic feminist derision.

There were some words about reclaiming and such that I willfully didn’t grok, but that didn’t matter cuz I was sold. Douchebag had been feminist-sanctioned! I could say it and not feel like a total hypocrite! W000t!

So after work one night I was with a group of my cool co-workers at a pizza place talking about this guy who had gotten fired that day for essentially being a complete effin tool. Seriously, if ever there was a human that deserved to be called a douchebag, this guy was it.

And I did it. For the first time since my feminist awakening I called someone a douchebag. Out loud. In mixed company. I felt pretty cool for a second as I felt it out – the word came out with confidence and power and at exactly the right moment – but then I got a little sick to my stomach and I felt my face get red.  What did I just do? The woman next to me gave me an odd look – one that I have since interpreted as disapproving and confused.

I immediately wanted to explain why it was okay for me to say it,  as in “No, no, it’s okay, I’m a feminist! I’m allowed!” but I realized that would require a dinner monologue about dirty vaginas and the patriarchy. No one was in the mood for that, not even me.  I just wanted to tell funny stories about the dude that got fired.

So the moment had to pass without context or explanation.  None of them were ever the wiser about the tool argument.  They just thought I was someone who, like most of the world, feminizes as insult.

I’m not.  Today a woman at work asked this guy if he was a girl because he wanted paper towels to clean barbeque sauce off his pork ribbed fingers.  I kicked her in the back of the shin out of reflex.  Hard. She yelped and I felt bad for resorting to violence.  But whatever.

When someone around me calls someone else a pussy or a bitch or they make some tired old gender generalization, they very often look at me right away to see how I’m gonna react and then either apologize to me before or after I say
Hey!” or ask why they shouldn’t say that.  Which is weird to me, really, but I am truly comforted that my presence, at the very least, makes people (those that know me at all, anyway) recognize sexist language when they hear it.

So much of the world’s mysogny is expressed so very non-chalantly in modern language.  Recognizing and not using the words that ultimately hurt women is a small thing we can do to fight this ugly bloody battle against us.  The words we choose to use when we talk to each other is the very easiest thing we can change about ourselves as we get prepped for smashing this shit up.

All of us here know what a douchebag represents.  Yes, it’s a tool of the patriarchy in every sense of the word.  But getting comfortable with the douche insult and its derivatives in the feminist sphere inevitably results in comfort with it in the non-feminist world, and people generally aren’t privy to the whole feminist take on the term.  Calling an Australian politician a douchebag in the comments of IBTP is one thing,  but out-feminists calling people douchebags in the company of folks who haven’t come around yet isn’t exactly going to do anything to bring the world closer to treating women as the human beings that we are.

I would bet that it makes those folks think that, holy crap, even feminists don’t have a problem with insulting someone by connecting them to a soiled vagina.  Unless the feminist name-caller can fully stop and explain the douchebag-tool connection and why other feminists have embraced it – which is, let’s face it, not typically an appropriate turn to a conversation – then she has only further contributed, perhaps even more significantly, to the mysgony that we battle against.

So I’m done with that word, and that’s that.


What to wear when you’re arresting people and you have breasts

Posted in TV, Women's Bodies by Dizzy on March 10, 2009

There are approximately 452 cop shows on American TV at any given moment of the day. My new roommate, I’ve discovered, loves cop dramas like I love reality competition shows on Bravo. And cheese.

GAWD I hate cop dramas, but sharing my space with someone else means compromising a bit.  I demand the TV when Top Chef is on and I begrudgingly accept cop shows playing on my television sometimes.

The troubling aspects of cop dramas are worth a whole feminist blog series, a book even, but at the moment I’m caught up on clothes.

Female cops all wear the same outfit on every one of the 452 cop shows: A tight solid color t-shirt, most often a scoop or v-neck, tucked into belted, form-fitting dark slacks or blue jeans if they’re off-duty or a promiscuous alcoholic. They complete the outfit with a cute matching jacket; leather if they play the  “sexy” cop.  To wit:


No colorful patterns, no linen, no turtlenecks, no sweaters. Please feel free to submit your theories on this phenomenon.

Okay, I’m back again

Posted in Dudes, Me by Dizzy on March 9, 2009

I’ve been away for a while now.  Not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because one night in October this sick dude who was pissed that I refused his ill advised attempts at wooing me into bed  (I’m just looking for something casual…fooling around is fun…not into a relationship right now….you flirted with me once…I haven’t been laid in a really long time…) decided to pour beer on my laptop before he left.   He promptly followed that up with a text message that said  “So are handjobs and blowjobs out of the question too?” Ugh.

Why International Women’s Day bugs me

Posted in Feminism by Dizzy on March 9, 2009

If ever a person needed (more) proof that we’re living in a patriarchy, I posit that International Women’s Day is the final argument.

Doesn’t it seem odd that women, at least half of the human population, are given a special day of recognition?  Can you imagine a day that honored the achievements of men?  What about a Men’s History month?

From a local newspaper article about a IWD parade: “We celebrate all of our accomplishments from early on until now and teach all of our young girls to know how important it is to feel you can do anything you want”

Yeah well, it’s more important to actually make it possible.  And you know what else?  If a girl could truly do whatever she wanted to do, if she could ever be anything more to the world than just a girl, she wouldn’t need a freaking parade to convince her of it.

Again, imagine a special day once a year where boys are rah-rahed into believing that when they grow up they can do great things just like other men have done.  I mean, it’s kind of a given, right?  Just as it should be for girls, yes?

Personally, I would rather be acknowledged as a fully realized human being on a daily basis than “celebrated” once a year.  The patriarchy will be dead when there no longer exists a need to recognize with parades and banners that the billions of people with vaginas are human too.