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Disgusting/discussing female bits October 21, 2010 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Douchebag retro-sexism: not cool

Is anyone else bothered by the widespread use here and elsewhere of the term douche or douchebag? I don’t know when it started being used so widely. I wish people would look at the connotations.

A douche bag is a contraption that women use to “clean” their vulvas and vaginas, parts that some consider “unclean”. Douching is no longer in favor with gynecologists.

It seems to me that using these terms to put people down is like calling them filthy cunts, dumb cunts, inferior smelly beings- whether they are male or female.

I have no interest in language policing, and I suspect that most of the people who use the term have not thought it through.
posted by mareli to Etiquette/Policy at 7:12 AM (419 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

It's certainly a vulgar, lazy putdown I wouldn't mind seeing less of you.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:14 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's ok mareli, the rest of us don't mind seeing you.
posted by Grither at 7:17 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Mareli, your post seems a little confusing to me. You're not interested in language policing, just asking everyone to think about whether using that terms is appropriate, correct?
posted by nomadicink at 7:19 AM on October 21, 2010


Do you think there are really people who don't know what an actual douche bag is? I have a hard time imagining that.
posted by kate blank at 7:20 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've heard the line of reasoning that the reason using douche or douchebag is OK is because since you are calling the person a useless, backward, hateful thing. That it is not insulting to women, it is related to outmoded and repugnant attitudes toward women.

I don't really buy that, and I also would be happy to see it used less, but I thought it was an interesting line of thought.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:21 AM on October 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


If you'd like to catch up on some previous discussions on the use of the word here you can look here.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2010


I have thought it through, and use it for men who are no good for women*, just like...douchebags. I don't see it as insulting to women at all.

As a contrast, I generally refuse to use the word "bitch" because it smacks of gendered hate speech.

I was thinking about this the other day and worried that women might see me using it and think that I meant it as an anti-female slur, so I'm glad you brought it up.



*or who unbalance your vaginal pH
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


You have not thought this through enough. Calling someone a "douchebag" is nothing like calling someone a "filthy cunt".
posted by three blind mice at 7:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [54 favorites]


This post just wasted 45 seconds of my life.

It is an insult. It isn't supposed to be nice.
posted by gjc at 7:25 AM on October 21, 2010 [22 favorites]


Wikipedia sez: "Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity." So just picture a bumpipe instead.
posted by ninebelow at 7:25 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It seems to me that using these terms to put people down is like calling them filthy cunts

Well, it's not. It is, at the risk of stating the obvious, the difference between calling someone an asshole and a toilet rag.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:25 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


You have not thought this through enough. Calling someone a "douchebag" is nothing like calling someone a "filthy cunt".

No, but the concept of douchebag does not even exist without being related to the conecpt of "filthy cunt". It's not there, but it's a direct line, even if the business end of the term is pointed the other way.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:26 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I suspect that most of the people who use the term have not thought it through.

I use that term because I've thought it through.
posted by bondcliff at 7:27 AM on October 21, 2010 [23 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not into telling anyone not to use it, just to understand the connotations, which might affect their decision to use it or not.
posted by mareli at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2010


Douchebags are people who are obnoxious and irritating. When you're done with one you feel violated. It's not about the "female bits," it's about unwanted, uncomfortable intrusion.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [24 favorites]


I just always assumed it was a bag, probably woven of some dainty fabric, for keeping your douches in.

Douches being something French whose mysterious purpose wasn't something I needed to concern myself with. Probably in the same vein as sachets and potpourri.

Now that I know what it truly means, I am repulsed, and will certainly never use that word again in polite company.

(I may, however, still use it occasionally on Metafilter.)
posted by Naberius at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have no interest in language policing ...

Enough to make a MetaTalk about it.

And let's be clear, the whole "I just want you to examine your language" bit as not being language policing is rather close to "River, we're not telling people what to think. We're just trying to show them how" — it's, uh, condescending at best.
posted by adipocere at 7:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [14 favorites]


Douche-bag (1963). I wonder if you guessed that douche-bag was introduced earlier than "dirt-bag." Even the OED has something about douche-bag. The word douche, with this spelling, goes back to the 18th century, but "douche-bag" doesn't occur until the 20th and, at first, in a medical context. For example, in a gynecological handbook for nurses, from 1908, we have the advice to "hang the douche-bag eighteen inches above the level of the patient's hips." By 1967, according to the OED, the term came into its more prominent contemporary usage: "Douche bag, an unattractive co-ed. By extension, any individual whom the speaker desires to deprecate." By the time I made it to the university in 1970, the language of "douche bag" was in the air, but it was almost universally applied to males. Once again, the males take over what properly belongs to women. Isn't that the complaint of the feminists? Well, at least we humanists finally took over a scientific term and used it for our own noble purposes.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:29 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a man who can't go eight words without saying some permutation of "fuck," I'm all for retiring "douchebag." Not for the somewhat tenuous link to misogyny, though. It's just a shitty, shitty modern version of a minced oath. You want to lay into someone? Go for broke or go home, motherfucker.
posted by griphus at 7:30 AM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's not my favorite word in the world, but I'm not seeing the sexist angle here. Doesn't "douche" refer to any, er, internal cleansing of the body? For instance (sorta NSFW).

If it were traditionally used to insult women, that would be a problem, but it seems to be a catch-all term nowadays.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:32 AM on October 21, 2010


Well fuck, isn't it related to "what a fag", "he's so gay", I don't see those used here. Of course I don't read every single word posted here, so I might be mistaken.
posted by mareli at 7:35 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well fuck, isn't it related to "what a fag", "he's so gay"

How?
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:36 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


How about if we stop using it because it's a vacuous, unoriginal substitute for making an actual point?
posted by John Cohen at 7:39 AM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


It's male-focused and the people around me use it for, yes, a certain kind of pushy, entitled, and often sexist male. The dudes at Yale yelling about "no means yes" are all douchebags. I like having a word for it.

For me, it has no connotations of weakness, filthiness, or femininity like cunt, pussy, bitch, etc.

The closest equivalent I can think of is calling someone a dick. I don't like to do that because I love me some dick and don't like connecting it to bad behavior.

Other people might use it differently.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:39 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


We should also ban the insults dick, ballsack, cocknugget, scrotum, testi-cletus, asshole, butthead, and hamburgler while we're at it.
posted by Plutor at 7:40 AM on October 21, 2010


Thank God we get to keep bellend.
posted by ninebelow at 7:41 AM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


We should also ban the insults dick, ballsack, cocknugget, scrotum, testi-cletus, asshole, butthead, and hamburgler while we're at it.

You can robble robble my robble when you robble it out of my cold dead robble robble.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:42 AM on October 21, 2010 [50 favorites]


I'm not going to stop saying douchebag.. or pretty much any other swear word. So maybe buy some ear muffs?
posted by pwally at 7:45 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm guilty of using this word.

But I'm still searching for a suitable replacement to describe that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating... douche... err scumbag type person that seems to be found with alarming historical frequency at the center of things when they go pear shaped and the excrement really hits the air conditioning.

Suitable vocabulary expansion is welcomed.
posted by loquacious at 7:46 AM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


We should also ban the insults dick, ballsack, cocknugget, scrotum, testi-cletus, asshole, butthead, and hamburgler while we're at it.

Well, the mods have explicitly banned the insult "cunt" — wouldn't the logical thing be to ban the insult "dick" too? I'm not sure what the difference is aside from gender.

I wish we would avoid all the words you mentioned. It would lead to a more intelligent discourse. As the site is now, there's this array of insults (generally aimed at men) that are all too easy to fall back on instead of giving any kind of substantive explanation of what your problem is with someone. It makes the site really ugly sometimes. I'd be happy to ban all these words, and a few more too.
posted by John Cohen at 7:46 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is why I much prefer calling people "enema nozzle", because everyone's got at least a little asshole on them.

all apologies to victims of colorectal cancers
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:46 AM on October 21, 2010


And "he's a pussy", I meant to add, but got interrupted by phone.

Put men down by questioning their hetero masculinity either by implying that they are homosexual, or by comparing them to women in some way- in this case to a tool used to eliminate or perfume women's normal odors.

Douchebags for anuses are called enemas. As far as I know douchebags are only used by women.

For the record, I have never used one.
posted by mareli at 7:47 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Time for the asshole monologues, methinks.
posted by robself at 7:48 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The closest equivalent I can think of is calling someone a dick.

"Scumbag" is a condom.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:48 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I vote that we start using the phrase louche mustachio in the place of douche bag.
posted by orville sash at 7:49 AM on October 21, 2010


Well, the mods have explicitly banned the insult "cunt" — wouldn't the logical thing be to ban the insult "dick" too? I'm not sure what the difference is aside from gender.

I am actually not going to explain this again. While the words in their most a-contextual Spocklike sense are words for female and male genitals, the way they have been used in society are worlds different. You may feel personally that this does not matter. We feel that it does.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:52 AM on October 21, 2010 [56 favorites]


Although I try to be sensitive to concerns like the one raised here, I like the word douchebag (and douche) as an insult. I see it as about intrusion and liquid-filled uselessness. It isn't at all like calling someone a cunt, and although we can argue about etymology, I don't think it's a crypto-reference to a vagina.

I've also had arguments about friends who consider "motherfucker" to be misogynistic, even though they admit that dogfucker or squirrelfucker are not insults predicated on a hatred of dogs or squirrels. The bottom line is that insults and curses that do not directly depend on denigrating someone else (eg., fag, kike, dyke) are usually absent enough actual sense to resist being carefully mapped back to their (possible) denigrating pasts.
posted by OmieWise at 7:53 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you think there are really people who don't know what an actual douche bag is?

The Penny Arcade guys, for example (douche discussion at 10:15).

And yay, this discussion again. Not accusing anybody of anything, but I'm sitting here idly wondering how many people are taking this rare and precious opportunity to use the c-word in a "legitimate" context on MetaFilter, a privilege that has been cruelly ripped from their scrabbling hands by the mods.
posted by Gator at 7:54 AM on October 21, 2010


And for what it's worth, I find douchebag to be sort of lazy and I use to find it sort of offensive but my feeling about it has shifted over time. Still don't much like it, but I don't personally see a strong compelling argument against it at a moderation level, just on a "eh it's not so great as a term because you can't tell if the person using it is using the 'you need this for your smelly vagina' angle or the 'this is a hackneyed useless piece of hygeine equipment' angle"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 AM on October 21, 2010


To me it's one of those slightly cringeworthy Americanisms that than imply an infantilised relationship with the adult human body, particularly in relation to female sexuality. But then, I'm British and we don't use the word here.

To argue that it's an insult used towards men, and is therefore not sexist, is to entirely miss the point though.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:54 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


How will I sing along with Kanye, mareli? How will I sing along with Kanye?
posted by dgaicun at 7:56 AM on October 21, 2010


What about the sardouche?
posted by Eideteker at 7:58 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you think there are really people who don't know what an actual douche bag is?

The answer to the question "Are there really people who don't know what ___ is?" is always yes.
posted by grouse at 7:59 AM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Put men down by questioning their hetero masculinity either by implying that they are homosexual, or by comparing them to women in some way- in this case to a tool used to eliminate or perfume women's normal odors.

That you believe this has anything to do with implying that they're homosexual, or comparing them to women, is completely inexplicable to me, and to be honest, I think you may be bringing baggage to this discussion which is solely yours and invisible to a lot of other folks; you're making leaps of logic I cannot fathom.

I tend to use the word douchebag to refer to braying, insensitive shitheads, often with fake tans, reeking of Axe and getting all their life lessons from Maxim magazine.

To be clear: When I call a man a douchebag, I am saying that he is a terrible and useless thing which, in an ideal and enlightened world, should not be happening to a vagina.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:01 AM on October 21, 2010 [38 favorites]


It's male-focused and the people around me use it for, yes, a certain kind of pushy, entitled, and often sexist male. The dudes at Yale yelling about "no means yes" are all douchebags. I like having a word for it.

It's telling that "It's male-focused" is meant as a defense of the word rather than a criticism.

I see no evidence that people usually use "douchebag" to refer to sexism.
posted by John Cohen at 8:01 AM on October 21, 2010


Does no one search the site before posting "Is anyone else bothered" questions?

The previous analysis is cute turnabout, and even if I don't agree entirely with it, this has been hashed through pretty thoroughly.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:02 AM on October 21, 2010


Listen, popped collars may look a bit silly but they're not sexist.
posted by mullacc at 8:02 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I did actually search a while ago, sorry should have done it again. All it led me to that time were posts that included the word.
posted by mareli at 8:03 AM on October 21, 2010


What about the sardouche?

*does the fandango*
posted by jonmc at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


The popped collar represents a yearning for our missing foreskins.
posted by adipocere at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [38 favorites]


Americanisms that than imply an infantilised relationship with the adult human body, particularly in relation to female sexuality. But then, I'm British and we don't use the word here.

Yeah, the British tend to use the much more mature "cunt." Thank god I'm American.
posted by OmieWise at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Douches certainly don't have to be related to vaginas. After all, aren't we always squealing about how MeFi isn't American-centric? What about french speakers who want to bathe?

I propose to make you happy, we instead switch to the term: Lavagevessel.

I'm just messin, I'm one of the people who cringes when people say "retard" or "mental retardation", but that's mostly a product of what I do and with whom I work. I don't reasonably believe that the people who use those words (generally) take issue w/ people with disabilities.
posted by TomMelee at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2010


Actually, 'douchebag,' is only really effective when spoken in an eastern seaboard accent with the emphasis on the second syllable.
posted by jonmc at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2010


why cannot we all simply refer to one another as

friend
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Of course, the Brits also tend to use the word "fanny" to mean something very different and more vulgar than Americans do.

But it certainly makes looking for a fanny-pack in London much more exciting.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2010


I have often heard the King say "Give me a Sandwich and a Douchebag, and there is nothing I cannot do."
posted by octobersurprise at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Who's friends with these fuckers?
posted by enn at 8:10 AM on October 21, 2010


Time for recipes?
Perhaps a salad with a nice, light vinegar and water dressing.
Perfect for a mild summer's eve.
posted by chococat at 8:11 AM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Douchebag" is lazy writing/thinking, but I'm with others who think it's actually a feminist inside-baseball term describe an intrusive, obnoxious, unwelcome male. I think, OP, that you have this exactly backwards.

Also, while douching may be bad for women, most gays I know are grateful for the enema's contribution to civilization.
posted by hermitosis at 8:12 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Douchebags for anuses are called enemas. As far as I know douchebags are only used by women.

Not to get into the weeds here but there are plenty of gay men of a certain age who call using enemas douching. Yes, they are enemas - but the word works in lots of different ways for lots of different people. Because of the use I've mentioned, if I do think of douchebag as a gendered insult, I think of it as having something to do with men prepping for anal sex with each other, but not in fact those men but the things they are trying to get rid of.

I am, however, aware that others think differently about the word. Which is why it is a favorite in my real life or my blog or even posting comments elsewhere, I tend to avoid it on Metafilter.

As I explain it that way, though, I've suddenly decided I'm not sure if that avoidance is a good thing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:13 AM on October 21, 2010


The Penny Arcade guys, for example (douche discussion at 10:15).

Yeah, I didn't much care for their use of it because they a) perpetuated the notion that douching is healthy and b) perpetuated the notion that vaginas are dirty. Trying to disabuse them of those notions is probably a bit of windmill-tilting, unfortunately.

Anyway, insults will always be problematic. Ultimately the point is to, well, insult, and that's almost always done by comparing to or equating with a disfavored group. I suppose we could start using fictional insults exclusively (nerfherder!), but I don't see it catching on.

So on this one I agree with jessamyn: not a great word, but not the worst. I also agree with John Cohen: insults are rarely useful anyway. They don't help a discussion when used against other members of the site, nor do they help when pointed at people outside the site, as that starts to become a useless hate pile-on when the insult is acceptable (e.g., insulting Carl Paladino) or it leads to an angry argument when the insult isn't acceptable (e.g., insulting a religion).

I'll admit to being guilty of making comments for the sole purpose or nearly the sole purpose of being insulting, but, yeah, it'd probably be better if we did less of that.
posted by jedicus at 8:15 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about if we stop using it because it's a vacuous, unoriginal substitute for making an actual point?

Sometimes, the point is that some people just need a good insulting.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:16 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


To be clear: When I call a man a douchebag, I am saying that he is a terrible and useless thing which, in an ideal and enlightened world, should not be happening to a vagina.

Which is fine provided you accompany every use of the word with your disclaimer. The problem comes when a significant proportion of people think you're saying something derogatory about female genital hygiene.

The point really is not what you, personally, decide a word means. What matters is the reactions your words provoke in other people. If a certain proportion of people feel that a word has misogynistic overtones, just not using the word is going to be better for all concerned than arguing over definitions.

Yeah, the British tend to use the much more mature "cunt." Thank god I'm American.

I've known precisely one British person who used that word in the last ten years. He uses it in every other sentence. It's not nearly as widespread as people seem to think.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:17 AM on October 21, 2010


I like calling people "Filthy Cnuts"--that's where I'm a viking.
posted by everichon at 8:20 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've known precisely one British person who used that word in the last ten years. He uses it in every other sentence. It's not nearly as widespread as people seem to think.

And yet it has been brought up in MetaTalk as a Britishism.

My larger point was that you might have been more persuasive had you left your casual (and speculative) cultural prejudice out of your comment.
posted by OmieWise at 8:21 AM on October 21, 2010


The OP's interpretation of the word couldn't be further from my understanding of its meaning and intent. It brings to mind the news-making incident of a professor being accused of racism for using the word "niggardly."
posted by five fresh fish at 8:21 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The answer to the question "Are there really people who don't know what ___ is?" is always yes.

10 years ago or so I met a grown man, a college graduate working on a Ph.D., who thought that women had a separate opening from their vagina (perhaps one that appeared when they were pregnant?) through which babies were delivered. He had been confused during sex ed by talk of a "birth canal," not realizing that the birth canal is made up of assorted parts of the female anatomy that are used for other things at other times. I am always amused by these kinds of misunderstandings.
posted by not that girl at 8:22 AM on October 21, 2010


I've heard the line of reasoning that the reason using douche or douchebag is OK is because since you are calling the person a useless, backward, hateful thing.

That's how I use it.

Maybe because I grew up (in the States) seeing ads on TV for Massengill products, I associate the term "douchebag" with a thing that is unnecessary and harmful.
posted by rtha at 8:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am always amused by these kinds of misunderstandings.

I was simultaneously amused and horrified by the number of people (either on an FPP here or in the comments of an FPP-linked article) who thought that tampons came in various sizes because of different sized vaginas, not because of different levels of absorbency.
posted by elizardbits at 8:27 AM on October 21, 2010


rtha, when I was a tyke I used to see those commercials, too, and I was kind of baffled. The vinegar and water thing had me thinking it had something to do with salad. Thankfully, I never tried that theory out.

Also, for some reason, here in New York City, especially the outer boroughs, 'douchebag' has become a term that yuppie/hipster kids from Kansas or wherever (no offense Kansans) use to disparage people they don't like, who are usually locals. This kind of irks me.
posted by jonmc at 8:30 AM on October 21, 2010


My larger point was that you might have been more persuasive had you left your casual (and speculative) cultural prejudice out of your comment.

I think you misread my comment, so let me rephrase it: my nationality, and the fact that people in my country do not generally use the word, makes it hard for me to judge how the word sits with an American audience. My intent was not "I'm British, and we don't say that, so we're better than you."
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:30 AM on October 21, 2010


I used to participate regularly in jazz forums on ILX. The term "jazz douchebags" was thrown about at first as an intended insult to us jazzophiles who were more modern but no less obnoxious than the mouldy fig contingent. But we adapted and adopted the term, until the Thought Police came along and told us we shouldn't use the term even in fun because of (take your pick of the 1000 arguments that come up against it here).

I sure wish we weren't all so sensitive. In my house growing up, the single device with various attachments was used by males & females for "proper irrigation" if you get my drift. Not something I personally like to remember, but it happened, ok? I did not associate a gender with said device until ILX and MeFI made me reconsider. Bah. I use it less, but don't enjoyu myself as much. My bag of swears keeps getting reduced.
posted by beelzbubba at 8:32 AM on October 21, 2010


Douchebag used to be a shitty word to use, but feminists are reclaiming it.

If you're a feminist, feel free to join us! Douching sucks!
posted by muddgirl at 8:32 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Douchebags for anuses are called enemas.

Please. I prefer the traditional word "clyster." "He's a slight physician cannot give a golden clyster at a dead lift." Shirley, John. The Bird In A Cage, 1633.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:33 AM on October 21, 2010


You see, this IS why I use "douchebag." I do indeed use it as a term to mean "This is harmful to women and totally unnecessary." I don't use it often, and I'm certainly not dropping it at every chance I get, but when I do use it it's because a douche is something that women don't need.

My husband actually once mis-spoke and called someone a "doucheball" not knowing what a douche actually is. He still insists that this is the "correct" term and uses it as his insult of choice. Having him explain how exactly a douche ball would work is nothing short of terrifying.

For gender equity, I'd go with "enema," but it just doesn't have the same ring to it.
posted by sonika at 8:34 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was simultaneously amused and horrified by the number of people...who thought that tampons came in various sizes because of different sized vaginas, not because of different levels of absorbency.

...Vaginas do come in different sizes.
posted by Gator at 8:35 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've never in my life called a woman a douchebag. It just doesn't make sense to me--it's always applied to horrible males, as in "women should avoid this person." That's the whole point; "You should not have anything to do with this creep, just like you should not irrigate your vagina with abrasive chemicals."
posted by Skot at 8:37 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Having him explain how exactly a douche ball would work is nothing short of terrifying.

I would like to hear more about this.
posted by ninebelow at 8:38 AM on October 21, 2010


To me it's one of those slightly cringeworthy Americanisms that than imply an infantilised relationship with the adult human body, particularly in relation to female sexuality. But then, I'm British and we don't use the word here.

If you could fit declawing cats and circumcision in there, you would have completed MeTa bingo. In response, I can only say, "Christ, what an asshole."
posted by proj at 8:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you misread my comment, so let me rephrase it[...]My intent was not "I'm British, and we don't say that, so we're better than you."

Thanks for the clarification. I'm not so sure I misread your comment, which suggested that American's have an "infantalised relationship to the adult human body:"

To me it's one of those slightly cringeworthy Americanisms that than imply an infantilised relationship with the adult human body, particularly in relation to female sexuality.

I'm glad of the clarification, though. For some reason I have been particularly sensitive of late to the casual denigration of "Americans" based on the, admittedly, wacky and bad behavior of some.
posted by OmieWise at 8:38 AM on October 21, 2010


I was simultaneously amused and horrified by the number of people (either on an FPP here or in the comments of an FPP-linked article) who thought that tampons came in various sizes because of different sized vaginas, not because of different levels of absorbency.

I live with one of those people. My husband, while well meaning, has absolutely no knowledge of the female anatomy. This is really quite something to behold when having to explain to him what, say, a CERVIX is. He has no idea how a tampon works and if he was aware that they came in different sizes might very well assume that they were for differently sized vaginas.

(Yes, living with him is an adventure. I had to explain cervical dilation to him the other day - in context, talking about the birth of our impending child - and it suddenly dawned on him "Birth is going to HURT!" This man is 30 years old and just realized this.)

(In his defense, he went to an all boys' Catholic high school in Portugal run by Opus Dei.)
posted by sonika at 8:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


N-thing the "useless" connotation. Who doesn't remember those godawful commericials: soft-focus, probably a beach or a field, a mother and her adult daughter. "Mom... (delicate pause)... do you ever get that not-so-fresh feeling?"

What the hell does that mean? I'm a guy, and I get not-so-fresh feelings all the time... this product and/or service might pertain to my interests. But they never actually got around to describing what they're selling in terms I could understand (it would have helped, for instance, if the daughter had said "So I stick this end in my vagina, mom?" and mom had replied "Yes, dear, but Massengill should not be used as a contraceptive device."), so by the end of the commercial I would be confused, a bit angry, and still not feeling any fresher. Just like most douchebags make me feel.
posted by logicpunk at 8:40 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


These people who are using "douchebag" in a specific sort of context have it right, as I believe this is the context in which it became widely used a few years back:

a certain kind of pushy, entitled, and often sexist male. The dudes at Yale yelling about "no means yes" are all douchebags.

that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating... douche... err scumbag type person

braying, insensitive shitheads, often with fake tans, reeking of Axe and getting all their life lessons from Maxim magazine.

Yes, this is the specific sort of person I refer to as a douchebag. Not just anyone qualifies. I seem to remember women using the term more often than men. And yes, I also thought the connotation was "useless, vapid, generally harmful to women."
posted by naju at 8:41 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


it's actually a feminist inside-baseball term describe an intrusive, obnoxious, unwelcome male. I think, OP, that you have this exactly backwards.


I agree. Douchebag has most definitely come to mean either a Jersey Shore-style knuckle-dragging guido (see hotchickswithdouchebags), one or of those insufferable fratty "bros" who need punching in the nose. Plus it has a nice dockyards-of-the-40s whiff to it.

Plus, just on general principle, I find discussions of what words to ban far more offensive than any actual word.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:41 AM on October 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


Plus, just on general principle, I find discussions of what words to ban far more offensive than any actual word.

I am in complete agreement, especially when said discussions often involve tortured attempts to connect a long dead connotation to current usage. See similar discussions of "dumb."
posted by proj at 8:43 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Douches are bad, worthless things, and therefore the word "douche" is a good word for people who are bad and worthless.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:44 AM on October 21, 2010


I am in complete agreement, especially when said discussions often involve tortured attempts to connect a long dead connotation to current usage. See similar discussions of "dumb."

That's pretty lame.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:44 AM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Maybe if we prounounced it all French and sit, like 'doo-shay...'
posted by jonmc at 8:46 AM on October 21, 2010


>: "For gender equity, I'd go with "enema," but it just doesn't have the same ring to it."

It also lacks the very important connotation of "completely useless." Enemas, after all, sometimes have practical medical use. Something that's unpleasant but useful doesn't make for a good insult. It'd be like calling someone a prostate exam or root canal.

Douchebag, though, is a perfectly cromulent insult. I see it as mostly genderless already: the important connotation is that the insultee is, or is behaving in a manner of, something that is at charitable best, of no use to anyone ever--something whose very existence only has value if there's enough misleading marketing and ignorance and who would have no place in a better world, and in fact would never have even come into being in such a world. The douchebag. As insults go, that's good stuff!

I can see the other interpretation that it's sexist by way of saying someone is of such low worth that they're fit only for dirty lowly women, but that honestly seems the more strained one.
posted by Drastic at 8:47 AM on October 21, 2010


Maybe if we prounounced it all French and sit, like 'doo-shay...'

Unfortunately, in French it's still pronounced just "doosh." "Doo-shay" would be douché.
posted by sonika at 8:47 AM on October 21, 2010


I never claimed to be French, lady.
posted by jonmc at 8:49 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread reminded me of one of my mom's nurse tales. She's been an RN for going on 40 years now, so she has some dandies. She was reviewing a patient chart one day, and she noted another junior RN's chart comment: "Patient's wound is red and pussy."

Mom took the young RN aside and explained to her that maybe the phrase would be better stated as "Indications of pus" or "Pus is seen" or whatever. Then she said "Besides, Doctor Peterson prefers the word 'snatch.' "
posted by Skot at 8:49 AM on October 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


I suppose I'll offer a counter experience with folks from the UK versus the bloody colonists.

I'm at an Echo and the Bunnymen show last year and having a good time. Towards the end of the performance the band begins to jam, only it's not the "jamming out" deal so much as ... noodling about while Ian McCollough occasionally free-associates at the microphone. Some of the audience leaves while he goes into a bit about going to have lunch with Lou Reed, only Lou Reed didn't see him paying the bill, and that's why you should never have sushi with Lou Reed. Then the band jams for a while and he finally says something:

IAN: Knock knock!
AUDIENCE: *bored and a little miffed* Who's there?
IAN: Yorick!
AUDIENCE: ... who's there?
IAN: Yorick Unt.

The audience just sort of stops and goes even more quiet. The band goes back to jamming: at that point, I realize that this may never stop, so I grab the setlist and make a beeline for the shuttle.
posted by adipocere at 8:50 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have often heard the King say "Give me a Sandwich and a Douchebag, and there is nothing I cannot do."

In fairness, Elvis was heavily medicated in his later years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 AM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Plus, just on general principle, I find discussions of what words to ban far more offensive than any actual word.

"In the abstract, people are usually good about defending free speech. They fall apart in the specifics."
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:52 AM on October 21, 2010


See similar discussions of "dumb."

It's a mute point.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:54 AM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Put men down by questioning their hetero masculinity either by implying that they are homosexual, or by comparing them to women in some way- in this case to a tool used to eliminate or perfume women's normal odors.

As others have said, from a usage perspective (rather than an etymology perspective) this is not the case at all for douchebag at all. The idea of an actual douching as gross or bad is arguably related to mysoginy, but douchebag is not generally used as a term to question masculinity in the way that gay or other insults are. In fact, in my experience it's almost exclusively used as an attack against male bravado or exagerated masculine posing. I don't use the word a lot, but the term is used more to insult the kind of guy that puts down other men for not adopting a masculine pose than the other way around.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:57 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Calling behavior 'dickish' is also sexist, but 'dickish' and 'douchebaggery' are terms with a certain resonance. The meaning is immediately and fully grasped, and that's really useful.
posted by theora55 at 8:58 AM on October 21, 2010


Er, there's no such phrase as "it's a mute point".
posted by ninebelow at 9:02 AM on October 21, 2010


You just haven't heard it.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:03 AM on October 21, 2010 [21 favorites]


Note the comment he was responding to. *hint hint*
posted by zarq at 9:04 AM on October 21, 2010


"Besides, Doctor Peterson prefers the word 'snatch.' "

I *just* managed to move my keyboard out of the way before I spit tea all over it. Now I have to go get a paper towel to wipe off the keyboard tray.
posted by rtha at 9:06 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er, there's no such phrase as "it's a mute point".

there is now.
posted by clavdivs at 9:07 AM on October 21, 2010


All I remember about the World According to Garp are douchebags, a bear, a penis getting bitten off, and charring a bell pepper on a gar burner. Not only does that sum up Irving for me, if the recipes would be forthcoming it would be very apt for this thread too.
posted by Elmore at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2010


ninebelow is correct. The proper phrase is "moo point." Like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo.
posted by Gator at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


ninebelow is correct. The proper phrase is "moo point." Like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo.

This derail is turning into something of a damp squid.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:13 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Shirley you mean mu.
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:13 AM on October 21, 2010


I was on the phone with my mom this weekend. We were talking about my cousin's recently-ex-boyfriend, and how there were already pictures of him on facebook with some other girl in a way that looks like maybe he had been up to something prior to breaking up with my cousin.

My mom said, "I doubt he was cheating, maybe he's just putting up those pictures to make [cousin] feel bad."

And I said, "well, if he is, that's pretty seriously douchey."

And my mom said, "seriously...what?"

And I said, "douchey...as in 'of or pertaining to a douchebag.'"

And she said, "ohhh, yes, douchey. Yes, he is definitely a douchebag."


Douchebag: Kid-Tested, Mom-Approved.
posted by phunniemee at 9:13 AM on October 21, 2010 [38 favorites]


Personally, I really don't care for it and bristle internally every time someone uses it but whatever, that's just me. Not interested in telling people off, but as TPS said, it just comes across as lazy and it sounds for some reason to me like nails on a chalkboard, plus yeah, if you think it through it's not so great. I doubt my idiosyncratic feelings about it would change anyone's usage though, nor should it necessarily.
posted by ifjuly at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2010


Er, there's no such phrase as "it's a mute point".

Puns are funny.

So is the word "douchebag." I shall continue to use it in casual conversation, but I can't really imagine any reason I would want to use it here.
posted by amro at 9:17 AM on October 21, 2010


...most gays I know are grateful for the enema's contribution to civilization.

"A clean bottom is a popular bottom."
posted by ericb at 9:19 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was in fact the occasional use of the word on metafilter that made me, uninitiated non-native speaker that I am, look up the word and connotations, and decide, for myself, that I'm not going to be a convert no matter the peer pressure. Individual decisions rule. But language call-outs are always bit, erm, ... (oh, that was an individual decision as well. Eating My Words).

[definitely time fore recipes]
posted by Namlit at 9:21 AM on October 21, 2010


Hey, could you knobs quit twatting about in this thread. You're making boobs of yourselves with all this dickish behaviour. You might think your cock of the walk, but all this back and forth tit for tat antics is just balls. So just penis and vagina and think about others for once in your lives.
posted by Elmore at 9:22 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




I think the new internet trend is douche-canoe, which I'm personally kind of fond of.
posted by Kimberly at 9:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Never argue with a cat. Everything is a mewed point.
posted by Elmore at 9:25 AM on October 21, 2010


But I'm still searching for a suitable replacement to describe that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating...

Asswipe.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:26 AM on October 21, 2010


But I'm still searching for a suitable replacement to describe that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating...

Asswipe.


But asswipes provide a needed service.

I used to prefer "Asshat", because it connotes a particular kind of flashy uselessness.
posted by muddgirl at 9:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


True. How about dingleberry? Or is that too cheery?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:29 AM on October 21, 2010


But I'm still searching for a suitable replacement to describe that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating...

Asswipe.

No one I know uses "asswipe" in that specific way. The overwhelming majority of people I know use "douche" or "douchebag" in that very specific way. There really is no good pre-existing synonym for it that conveys anything close to the exact meaning.

I mean, I'd call nearly ANYONE an asswipe, but hardly anyone a douchebag.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:33 AM on October 21, 2010


Unfortunately, in French it's still pronounced just "doosh." "Doo-shay" would be douché.

jonmc was speaking French, not French. They're homographs, which is probably the source of confusion. The former is a natural language closely associated with the people of France; the latter is a dialectal adjunct of American English that contains a collection of words that are pronounced differently than their French (former meaning) counterparts.

The former, French, is pronounced "French", whereas the latter, French, is pronounced "Fronsh."
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:34 AM on October 21, 2010 [30 favorites]


Don't frent, cortex.

They're homographs,

whatchoo call me?
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on October 21, 2010


Oh, great.
cortex just triggered my homographobia.
posted by Floydd at 9:38 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have no interest in language policing

Your lack of self-awareness is astounding, possibly even douchey.
posted by modernnomad at 9:41 AM on October 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


The former, French, is pronounced "French", whereas the latter, French, is pronounced "Fronsh."

Keep the shonge.
posted by proj at 9:47 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


But I'm still searching for a suitable replacement to describe that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating... douche... err scumbag type person that seems to be found with alarming historical frequency at the center of things when they go pear shaped and the excrement really hits the air conditioning.

Hipster.
posted by zarq at 9:50 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


cortex just triggered my homographobia

In other news, Juan Williams was fired from Metatalk earlier this morning.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The promotion of douching is evil. It ruins your normal flora. So I think calling someone a douchebag is appropriate, because douching is bad for you and can cause health problems. So it's not that people think the vagina is unclean, it's that douching is bad and marketed as being necessary, when the practice of douching is ridiculous and bad for you.
posted by anniecat at 9:51 AM on October 21, 2010


When I hear douche, douchebag, or douchenozzle, I don't exactly associate it with women. I think male-created, penis substitute used to unnessecarily annoy women with its pointlessness.

So my use of it is sexist, just not against women.

I'll try to curb it.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:01 AM on October 21, 2010


Do you think there are really people who don't know what an actual douche bag is?

Yes. I heard it as an insult and didn't think it meant anything more than, say, dickhead. Because it's really out of fashion now.
posted by mippy at 10:02 AM on October 21, 2010


I used to prefer "Asshat", because it connotes a particular kind of flashy uselessness.

My mind was blown when a friend said something about metonymy in that expression, and the image of a person with their head planted so firmly between their legs that they're wearing their ass as a hat. I now say "asshat" a lot.
posted by bewilderbeast at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just to point out that the word is two levels of metonymy, i.e., "douche bag" representing a "misogynistic practice from a bygone era", in turn representing the category of "all loathsome and contemptible behaviors".
posted by polymodus at 10:03 AM on October 21, 2010


Shirley you mean mu.


Nice mu... nice mu.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:08 AM on October 21, 2010


You know what phrase I really hate? 'Sandy vagina' or 'you got sand in your vagina'. I'm glad we donb't use that here.
posted by mippy at 10:08 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


'Sandy vagina' or 'you got sand in your vagina'.

Um, what?

Is that like saying a person has a bug up their ass? (Or 'arse,' if you prefer?)
posted by zarq at 10:18 AM on October 21, 2010


"scumbag" used to mean "condom," but since nobody now uses it that way, and it evokes no image or association with sex outside marriage or VD in the hearer, it seems difficult to argue that it is meant as a sexual slur. I would argue that this thread is solid evidence that douchebag is in the midst of a similar transition, with the primary meaning evoked in current usage being something closer to "slimy fratboy" and "hygienic device" a decidedly secondary meaning, perhaps on it's way to obsolescence.
posted by Diablevert at 10:19 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's actually a "moo" point. Authority.
posted by prefpara at 10:20 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Family Guy is to blame.

At least that's what I tell myself.
posted by morganannie at 10:22 AM on October 21, 2010


Wow. I really wish that I had enough free time on my hands that something like this would bubble to the surface as important enough to even think about... But, I don't so... Never mind.

(nthing "asshat" as a superior replacement for "douchebag," which is too Jersey Shore for me to even think of using...)
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2010


Wait, is Family Guy to blame for douchebags, or the fact that we call douchebags douchebags?
posted by Think_Long at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2010


Please. If you think it only refers to women, then you don't understand the word. If you use it, you are mentally lazy, not sexist.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:28 AM on October 21, 2010


Think_Long, I meant I blame Family Guy for the prevalence of the saying. Not for coining the phrase.
posted by morganannie at 10:33 AM on October 21, 2010


zarq: "

Is that like saying a person has a bug up their ass? (Or 'arse,' if you prefer?)
"

Yes, and that the insult recipient is a woman, who is weak and demands extravagant levels of comfort. Because REAL MEN LIVE WITH IT.

Just a wee bit sexist, that one.
posted by pwnguin at 10:33 AM on October 21, 2010


"scumbag" used to mean "condom," but since nobody now uses it that way, and it evokes no image or association with sex outside marriage or VD in the hearer, it seems difficult to argue that it is meant as a sexual slur.

Obviously, we have found someone who does not own a copy of Golden Filth Live at the Fillmore East, where the poets Kupferberg and Sanders gave us paeans to both douching and scumbags, and on the same side of the LP as well.

CCD. Saran Wrap. To the Fug-o-phile, 'nuff said. For the rest of you, educate yourselves--or if you ask, I'll be glad to elucidate.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:38 AM on October 21, 2010


If you find "douchebag" handy as an insult, but are wary of sensitivities, may I suggest "dingbat" as a replacement? Feels the same going out, much less chance of offending.
posted by jtron at 10:46 AM on October 21, 2010


but 'dingbat' means crazy, it doesn't mean . . . well . . . douchebag.
posted by Think_Long at 10:53 AM on October 21, 2010


put me in the pro-douchebag camp (well, pro-using the word - everyone should be anti-douchebag which is the point).

none of the other suggestions for things to replace it with tackle the part about "harmful to women". i guess we could all start calling these sorts of guys "terry richardsons".

"did you see that guy talking to jill? he actually said 'if i call you an angel will you treat me like the devil'! what a complete terry richardson!"

"i work with this guy that just oozes eau-de-date rape"
"oh! i know him! he's such a terry richardson!"

"terry richardson is a terry richardson"
posted by nadawi at 10:57 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hold on, I've got it ...

... Q-tip.

It occupies the "once thought a 'good idea,' but in reality not particularly good for you, health-wise" space as does the (revved up like a) douchebag, but is not specific as to gender. It is intrusive. It has a head made of little but dense cotton and cardboard (or plastic now). It is disposable.

Q-t-p. Let's try that in a sentence. "I was dancing with Terry at a party and this Q-tip just jams right in the midst of us." Sounds ... insertive.

"Is it my imagination, or is everyone on Jersey Shore a Q-tip?" Even the orange color of a used Q-tip is reminiscent of a spray tan.

Q-tip. Let's make this happen, people.
posted by adipocere at 10:59 AM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


also: let us turn to garfunkel and oates -

this party just took a turn for the douche

(includes the amazing rhyme of "mike seaver her beaver")
posted by nadawi at 11:01 AM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


the problem with q-tip is that secretly a lot of people still use them because it just feels so damn good.
posted by nadawi at 11:02 AM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


This week I will be mainly getting offended by the words "po-faced", "whinger" and "big girl's blouse".
posted by Decani at 11:04 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Q-Tip is awesome and I will hear no words against A Tribe Called Quest.
posted by elizardbits at 11:06 AM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


We should also ban the insults dick, ballsack, cocknugget, scrotum, testi-cletus, asshole, butthead, and hamburgler while we're at it.
posted by Plutor at 3:40 PM on October 21


You can have my dick, ballsack and cocknugget when you prise them from my cold, dead fingers.
posted by Decani at 11:07 AM on October 21, 2010


"...the orange color of a used Q-tip..."

You're doing it wrong.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:12 AM on October 21, 2010


But I'm still searching for a suitable replacement to describe that sort of banefully unaware, popped-collar, drink-spiking, date-raping, harmful, tasteless, overcompensating... douche...

"Choad" is the term in use among my young friends.

Mom took the young RN aside and explained to her that maybe the phrase would be better stated as "Indications of pus" or "Pus is seen" or whatever.

The word she was looking for is either "purulent" or "pyogenic".
posted by nicwolff at 11:13 AM on October 21, 2010


"Choad" is the term in use among my young friends.

Ah, yes, a perineal favorite.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2010 [27 favorites]


...may I suggest "dingbat" as a replacement?

Or, "meathead" will also work!
posted by ericb at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2010


I'm gonna go ahead and suggest "neti pot" as the gender-neutral version.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Q-tip. Let's make this happen, people.

Ugh. I removed that gross, disgusting Earwax post from "Recent Activity" for a reason.
posted by zarq at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


jtron: If you find "douchebag" handy as an insult, but are wary of sensitivities, may I suggest "dingbat" as a replacement? Feels the same going out, much less chance of offending.

Dingbat sounds a bit silly and lacks bite. It would be like referring to somebody as a koo-koo head or nincompoop. The times I've used douchebag it was definitely being used a powerful word that, amongst the people I used it around, conveyed exactly what I wanted it to mean. No need for elaborate background information or an uneeded discussion to make sure we are in agreement.

Until I saw the discussions of the word here, I never thought of it as more than a way of describing a particular type of asshole. But after following some discussions here, out of respect to my fellow MeFites that are offended by it's use, I have a made a point to not use it in this community. It will still come up in conversations with my wife and certian friends, where it's an effective, targeted word rather then an offensive phrase. It's a case of knowing your audience and being sensitive to a generally agreed upon (spoken or unspoken) decorum.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:15 AM on October 21, 2010


Yes, and that the insult recipient is a woman, who is weak and demands extravagant levels of comfort. Because REAL MEN LIVE WITH IT.

Just a wee bit sexist, that one.


Ah. I've never heard anyone say it. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by zarq at 11:16 AM on October 21, 2010


re: sandy vagina, sand in the vagina

i actually take a different meaning than " the insult recipient is a woman, who is weak and demands extravagant levels of comfort. Because REAL MEN LIVE WITH IT."

to me, sandy vagina is the same as panties in a twist, but rougher - meaning basically "the reason you're reacting negatively to my assholishness is not because i'm a fuckwad, but because you have sand crammed into your delicate places and that's the reason you're really mad." it's more likened to "are you on the rag?"

certainly sexist and shouldn't be used - just clarifying how i've always defined it.
posted by nadawi at 11:19 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Choad" is the term in use among my young friends.

Ah, yes, a perineal favorite.


I don't know how this ever came into common parlance as a synonym for the taint (or grundel or chuttle, depending on where you live) but I thought that the world was fairly certain that a choad was a penis that is wider than it is long. Am I alone on this?
posted by orville sash at 11:22 AM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, Lord, not this conversation again.

I've never in my life called a woman a douchebag.


Then let me introduce you to a new word: "Douchette", which is used commonly among my friends/peers.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


the problem with q-tip is that secretly a lot of people still use them because it just feels so damn good.

The problem with Q-Tips® is that the directions on the box tell you explicitly not to use them in the manner for which they were specifically designed: plunging through the eardrum and swizzling your brain. Why the fuck not?

It's like making a box of Kleenex emblazoned with WARNING: Don't shove fistfuls of these into your eye sockets. Well, what the hell else am I supposed to do with them?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sadly, the OED has only a single dry entry for "perineum", nothing applicable under "taint", and no references whatsoever to "choad" or (and the spelling was a recurring point of debate among my friends) "chode". Hopefully someone has a good slang references they can check.

But I've never heard your dwarf-build variation before, fwiw.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:25 AM on October 21, 2010


decani: "big girl's blouse"

Bwahaah that's what my loving Brit friends call me (in an endearing way). Or, "grande dame blousson" if we're feeling je ne sais quoi about it.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:27 AM on October 21, 2010


"fairly certain that a choad was a penis that is wider than it is long."

i've only ever heard those referred to as coke cans (or, if he's much wider than long, tuna can).
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how in the list of uses on the back of the Q-Tip box it shows pictures of them being actively used for things like painting, makeup application, first aid, etc...and then there's just a picture of a BABY. No Q-Tip, just a baby. What's up with that?
posted by phunniemee at 11:28 AM on October 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


man, i should really just save up everything i have to say and make one huge comment instead of 100 little ones.

i'd like to just pause and say that way back in the diaryland days i used to talk to this delightful woman who called herself perineum - so for the rest of my life that word will only invoke sweetness and dirty, fond memories.
posted by nadawi at 11:29 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]




The promotion of douching is evil. It ruins your normal flora. So I think calling someone a douchebag is appropriate, because douching is bad for you and can cause health problems. So it's not that people think the vagina is unclean, it's that douching is bad and marketed as being necessary, when the practice of douching is ridiculous and bad for you.


I've always seen a douche as a dude that is trying really, really hard to get into a vagina (practically any vagina) and is unhealthy for your (hypothetical) vagina, so that works.
posted by 1000monkeys at 11:29 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know how this ever came into common parlance as a synonym for the taint (or grundel or chuttle, depending on where you live) but I thought that the world was fairly certain that a choad was a penis that is wider than it is long. Am I alone on this?

Huh! Weird. I was introduced to the term "choad" as synonymous with "taint" over 20 years ago in college. I've never heard of your wide penis definition. <--I am at work and I just got paid to write that sentence.
posted by Skot at 11:30 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, the synonym for taint/grundle/chuttle/perineum that I learned was gooch. It has come up more than once in my circle of friends that I am apparently the one person in the world who has ever used the term gooch. That can't be true--I must have learned it somewhere. Anyone else know it by the word gooch?
posted by phunniemee at 11:30 AM on October 21, 2010


"Choad" is the term in use among my young friends.

Ah, yes, a perineal favorite.

I don't know how this ever came into common parlance as a synonym for the taint (or grundel or chuttle, depending on where you live) but I thought that the world was fairly certain that a choad was a penis that is wider than it is long. Am I alone on this?


When I looked it up on Urban Dictionary a few years back, that height:width ratio is the definition that I was surprised to read.

Where I come from, the choade (CHO-duh) is the triangular web of scrotum that connects to the underside of the penis.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:30 AM on October 21, 2010


Plus, just on general principle, I find discussions of what words to ban far more offensive than any actual word.

This is disingenuous. Nobody is trying to curb your free speech here. I hope we can all agree that there are certain words -- say, racial and homophobic slurs for example -- that shouldn't be used as insults on Metafilter. The question is whether or not "douchebag" falls into the same arena. Now, you may not think it does (I'm not sure myself), but to immediately fall back on the "DON'T BAN MY WORDS!!" argument is ridiculous, because there are already words that are contraindicated on metafilter (cf Jessamyn's comment above). The question is whether or not this particular word should be treated the same way, and this comment (and others like it) doesn't address the central issue at all.

Your lack of self-awareness is astounding, possibly even douchey.

This week I will be mainly getting offended by the words "pin o-faced", "whinger" and "big girl's blouse".

And now we've moved into outright mockery of the OP. Great. Perhaps we could also add "ZOMG YOU ARE SO PC" to complete the bingo card. Is it so awful to at least consider for a second whether or not douchebag is a word worth using, even if you then conclude that it is okay to use? It's amazing to me that people are so enraged by the idea of sometimes contemplating the words they use. I agree that "douchebag" doesn't fall into the same camp as other gendered insults, and I personally wouldn't ask people to stop using the word (I use it myself), but apparently the hive mind has spoken, and it has said "GRAR DON'T ASK ME TO EVER THINK ABOUT THE LANGUAGE I USE!!!"
posted by Frobenius Twist at 11:31 AM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought "Q-Tip" was already slang for an old woman (with big hair) that can't see over her car's steering wheel.
posted by giraffe at 11:31 AM on October 21, 2010


Anyone else know it by the word gooch?

YES. (nyc, grew up in the 80s)
posted by elizardbits at 11:32 AM on October 21, 2010


Anyone else know it by the word gooch?

YES. (nyc, grew up in the 80s)


Whatchoo talkin' about, elizardbits?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:35 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Um this is a bit to;dr for my device.
But... It strikes mr that the extension of the OPs argument is as follows: "douchebag" is an offensive name to some, please desist from its use. Others say it's not an offensive name, carry on. The latter group are requesting that ad hominems are allowable. Mefi custom is that "ad hominems" are not the best way to make your point. I agree, and think the gynophobic origins of "douchebag" are sufficient for us to express disapproval in stronger than normal terms. Good luck enforcing it, I hope the mods support your efforts.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:41 AM on October 21, 2010


i dont agree with the argument that borders on pseudo-academic bullshit...its a rather douchebag argument.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:44 AM on October 21, 2010


It strikes mr that the extension of the OPs argument is as follows: "douchebag" is an offensive name to some, please desist from its use. Others say it's not an offensive name, carry on.

Well, as someone who thinks that it's not offensive towards women, I still didn't say "carry on" and have already tried to limit my use of it on Metafilter and other online spaces because I know some people don't like it... so I don't quite get your point I guess.
posted by muddgirl at 11:47 AM on October 21, 2010


Hey ass-munch!
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on October 21, 2010


Thank goodness someone else in this thread knows what "grundel" means...
posted by Mister_A at 11:54 AM on October 21, 2010




I say either we get rid of namecalling, or not touch any of it.

Which is worse: offensive language, or using an insult rather than actually saying anything substantial? Disparate people don't find the same names and epithets offensive, banning some while allowing others is little more than playing favorites with no payoff.

The whole reason why pure democracy doesn't work is because majorities shouldn't vote away the rights of minorities, or vice versa. That sounds an awful lot like what the flagging system fosters. Personally I'd be the kind to not touch it, but looks like that's already happened.

And just to be clear, direct name calling is one of those things I try to avoid, so I'm not rooting for my own horse here.
posted by Phyltre at 11:57 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whenever I read the word "perineum" it's in the cadences of the "Mahna Mahna" song.

Perineum! Doot doo dee doo doo.
Perineum! Doot doo dee doo.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:59 AM on October 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Gooch is forever to me a set of single-room apartment-style dorms at the University of Virginia. Knowing your definition makes it really weird to say that I lived in Gooch for a year...

Although it seems appropriate that it was just after I had come out...
posted by This Guy at 12:02 PM on October 21, 2010


Gooch is forever to me Agnes Gooch, the harried secretary of Auntie Mame.
posted by Gator at 12:06 PM on October 21, 2010


Are you guys talking about "the gooch"? Man he gave arnold a hard time.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:11 PM on October 21, 2010


Hmm. Gooch to me will always bring to mind Scrubs and singing.
posted by questionsandanchors at 12:11 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I feel like in Western Canada "gooch" is the name for male underwear (preferably tighty-whities that are now neither tight nor white). But I'm scared to google it.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:12 PM on October 21, 2010


In the first Jackass movie, they make mention of The Gooch. I'd never heard it before that.
posted by orville sash at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2010


Close - gotch, ginch, gonch, or gitch are the terms I was thinking of.
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:16 PM on October 21, 2010


That you believe this has anything to do with implying that they're homosexual, or comparing them to women, is completely inexplicable to me, and to be honest, I think you may be bringing baggage to this discussion which is solely yours and invisible to a lot of other folks; you're making leaps of logic I cannot fathom.

Good lord. Of course, it has to do with emasculating them! Despite the elaborate explanations in this thread about how people are now using it because the douchebag is now useless and archaic, the public-at-large don't know that and is definitely not thinking that when they hear it. They know that a douchebag is a product that goes in the vagina. How humiliating! Therefore, it's extra insulting to call a man that. So, while it may have this empowering-to-women meaning to you, it doesn't to everyone else.
posted by ignignokt at 12:22 PM on October 21, 2010


In the first Jackass movie, they make mention of The Gooch. I'd never heard it before that.

No. You've just forgotten. Every tv-owning American knows about "The Gooch".
posted by hal_c_on at 12:24 PM on October 21, 2010


Where I come from, the choade (CHO-duh) is the triangular web of scrotum that connects to the underside of the penis.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:30 PM on October 21 [+] [!] Other [2/3]: «≡»


are - are you from early '90s Tampa? because that's the only place I've heard choade (there was a residence hall at USF that had one floor calling itself Chi Omicron Delta).
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:28 PM on October 21, 2010


And now we've moved into outright mockery of the OP

Indeed, though I was mocking (outright) the OP not for the making of a request that we better police our language lest we unintentionally further stereotypes etc, but for having the sheer audacity to preface it with "I have no interesting in language policing".

And I stand by that mockery.
posted by modernnomad at 12:32 PM on October 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


"I have thought it through, and use it for men who are no good for women*, just like...douchebags."

"you are calling the person a useless, backward, hateful thing."

"Maybe because I grew up (in the States) seeing ads on TV for Massengill products, I associate the term "douchebag" with a thing that is unnecessary and harmful."

"It's male-focused and the people around me use it for, yes, a certain kind of pushy, entitled, and often sexist male. The dudes at Yale yelling about "no means yes" are all douchebags. I like having a word for it."


So really what we're talking about here, by referring to a class of things by a set of their characteristics, is a kind of synecdouche.
posted by Eideteker at 12:32 PM on October 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Good lord. Of course, it has to do with emasculating them! Despite the elaborate explanations in this thread about how people are now using it because the douchebag is now useless and archaic, the public-at-large don't know that and is definitely not thinking that when they hear it. They know that a douchebag is a product that goes in the vagina. How humiliating! Therefore, it's extra insulting to call a man that. So, while it may have this empowering-to-women meaning to you, it doesn't to everyone else.
posted by ignignokt at 12:22 PM on October 21 [+] [!]


I advise that you read your admonition and reflect on how it might pertain to you.
posted by proj at 12:34 PM on October 21, 2010


They know that a douchebag is a product that goes in the vagina. How humiliating! Therefore, it's extra insulting to call a man that. So, while it may have this empowering-to-women meaning to you, it doesn't to everyone else.

It's humiliating to men to go into women's vaginas? That is a surprise to me.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:34 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I feel like in Western Canada "gooch" is the name for male underwear (preferably tighty-whities that are now neither tight nor white)

That's always been "gotchies" in my family, but I'm in Ontario.
posted by chococat at 12:46 PM on October 21, 2010


It's humiliating to men to go into women's vaginas?

It's an attempt at humiliation to compare one to a feminine hygiene product, sure. That's what I meant about "a cute turnabout" but not entirely convincing. It's a fine consensus or near-consensus for MeFi, but outside of the blue, it's not the prevailing understanding as far as I can tell. Want to spearhead the change? Go ahead. But let's not deny that this particular... preparation of beans is a homegrown MeFi recipe.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:51 PM on October 21, 2010


Dishrag!
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:52 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


dash_slot: Others say it's not an offensive name, carry on. The latter group are requesting that ad hominems are allowable. Mefi custom is that "ad hominems" are not the best way to make your point.

With respect, I think you're incorrectly equating those people who say it's not *that kind of offensive* with people who think ad hominem attacks are okay. This is a false argument. I don't see an issue with douche/douchette/douchebag/whatever in priniciple, but I do think it's not cool to be calling eachother that name or any name (per the community rules) but of course it does happen sometimes. There are obvious reasons for that rule (to prevent fights and headaches for the mods, for example, in addition to just plain basic courtesy).

However, I don't see anything wrong with saying something along the lines of: those stupid kids from The Jersey Shore (is that the name of the show?) are all douchebags. It's a statement of fact, and a rather apt one at that, since it paints a picture that everybody understands--it's a fantastic symbol because it summarizes a feeling and an image rather succinctly.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Feels the same going out, much less chance of offending.

Where's the fun in that? Should people look for inoffensive insults?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:54 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]



I feel like in Western Canada "gooch" is the name for male underwear (preferably tighty-whities that are now neither tight nor white)

That's always been "gotchies" in my family, but I'm in Ontario.


That's funny, I'm from Ontario originally (moving back in 2 weeks) and spent half my life there, and half my life here on the West Coast. I've only ever heard the term "ginch" for underwear, FWIW.
posted by 1000monkeys at 12:55 PM on October 21, 2010


It's a fine consensus or near-consensus for MeFi, but outside of the blue, it's not the prevailing understanding as far as I can tell. Want to spearhead the change? Go ahead. But let's not deny that this particular... preparation of beans is a homegrown MeFi recipe.

Umm... bullshit? It's all over the blogs I read, and most of them are surprisingly too left-wing for Metafilter.

Just because this is the first place you've read this particular justification doesn't make it unique to this blog culture. I'd say it probably started among younger feminist and progressive bloggers, and spread from there.
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just because this is the first place you've read this particular justification doesn't make it unique to this blog culture. I'd say it probably started among younger feminist and progressive bloggers, and spread from there.

Do the dates back that up? A lot of MeFi discussion travels, I've noticed, sometimes with attribution and sometimes without. In any case, that's how it appeared to come together on the blue/grey. I don't recall people responding to the topic by linking to this interpration of it elsewhere, as MeFites tend to do.

In any case, no need to be a dickhead about it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:03 PM on October 21, 2010


Wait, if we can't use "douchebag," what I am I supposed to say when I cough?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:04 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also: an insult is not (necessarily) an ad hom.

"Armageddon is a brilliant film."

A. You're an idiot, so this can't be true. (ad hom)
B. Have you watched it? You're an idiot. (insult, name-calling, truth-telling, what-have-you)
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:05 PM on October 21, 2010


In any case, no need to be a dickhead about it.

Hahaha.

This blog posts cites a 2006 article on Pandagon (link sadly broken, although I could probably reconstruct it if I actually cared)
My thinking is, “douche bag”, used against patriarchists and male supremacists, is an insult, not because we now realize regular douching is bad, or because douching is per se bad, but because the term hearkens to the reasons for which douche bags were invented, namely, to clean what men believed to be women’s foul-smelling, diseased genitalia. When we use the word, the patriarchists we intend to insult are insulted, not because douche bags are bad things, but because of the revulsion over women’s bodies which the term “douche bags” evokes and which inspired their invention. A douche bag is a neutral object with some valid reasons for existing. It is only revolting or disgusting when it is connected with sexist views of women’s vaginas and bodies. And for this reason, using words like “douchebag” as an insult is, I believe, sexist.
Note that there is at this time, and presently, controversy about the use of this term.

The earliest I can find a reference to douchebag as a specific reference to something hurtful to women is this comment from kittensforbreakfast, made in 2007. I have started trawling through all 2000 uses of the word "douchebag" to see if I can't find something earlier, but this might take awhile.
posted by muddgirl at 1:13 PM on October 21, 2010


i've been hearing douchebag=a product/man harmful to women for over a decade now. this isn't new and it isn't a metafilter thing. how do you know what people mean when they say douchebag? do they say "that guy's a douchebag and by that i mean that i hate women and think their snatches are icky!"? maybe your baggage about what you think people are saying is coloring their actual meaning.
posted by nadawi at 1:14 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


OK, I limited it to just MetaTalk and there's a lot fewer results - around 550 or so. Seriously folks, if I liked this work before I don't like it now.

I also vote "ass-munching douchebag" to be the most offensive use so far. Seriously, how homophobic can one comment get?
posted by muddgirl at 1:21 PM on October 21, 2010


nadawi: if it were an obvious conclusion, we wouldn't have needed to reach it. I still hear junior-high school kids (courtesy of my nephew) using it. You think they're relating to it as a harmful artifact of patriarchy (which predates them)? My guess at common usage: it's already associated with insult, it sounds funny, it relates to genitalia. I'm not sure why a historical view should be assumed of the speaker absent evidence to that point.

muddgirl: well, may be the reverse, then -- that the discussions on MeFi related points made elsewhere without citation (which is fine and actually, I think, preferable, letting the ideas stand on their own).

on preview: yeah, "ass-munching-douchebag". I'm sure there's a careful consideration of history behind that use.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:24 PM on October 21, 2010


Well we must watch different porn, muddgirl, because most of the ass-munching I've seen has been heterophilic.
posted by Mister_A at 1:25 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


well, may be the reverse, then -- that the discussions on MeFi related points made elsewhere without citation

Did you think we just all collectively dream this stuff up on our ownsomes? That there's some Jungian thing going on where all these ladies on Metafilter suddenly decided that the term was OK for the same reason?

It's just another kind of meme.
posted by muddgirl at 1:28 PM on October 21, 2010


Were you in the same thread I was? There was no simultaneous revelation. An interpretation was championed, discussed, favoured, affirmed, like many a topic on MeFi.

Did everyone suddenly decide to start talking about Joust? The Dalai Lama? Paulina Porizkova? No, someone raised the topic. It's not magic.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:31 PM on October 21, 2010


I don't know about all that "douchebag" stuff (although, as a woman, I am not offended by it and rather agree with the sentiments posted here and here just a couple of days ago), I don't associate the use of the word "pussy" to mean "coward" with misogyny at all. I've long thought of it as either coming from the idea of a scared little pussycat, or a shortened form of pusillanimous (which Wikipedia says is probably not the case, but oh well). I mean, it just doesn't make sense (to me) as meaning a vagina—vaginas don't get scared. I suppose it could (and likely does, tin some people's minds) refer to the idea that women are shrinking violets that faint at the sign of danger, but that's completely stupid. I don't like the word "pussy" to refer to female genitalia. At all. It grosses me out. Yet I have no problem with calling someone, usually myself, a pussy (as in, "Yeah, I'd really like to go, but I'm way too much of a pussy to do X"). The two words are, to my mind, simply homophones, and nothing else.

And, scrolling down further in that Wikipedia article, one finds the claim that the etymology of "pussy" meaning "a weak or cowardly person," rather than a man perceived to by effeminate or a "sissy" (which is clearly not gender-neutral and is sexist) comes from the obsolete English word pursy, meaning "fat and short-breathed; fat, short, and thick; swelled with pampering ..." which may or may not be true, but definitely has nothing to do with vaginae.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 1:33 PM on October 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Are you talking about this thread or another one? What I saw in this thread was some people favoring this definition, others opposing it, others arguing that all insults are by definition offensive, and so on.

I'm getting sort of sick, so it's easy to confuse me.
posted by muddgirl at 1:34 PM on October 21, 2010


if reclamation of offensive words offends you (or feminist jam bands) stay out. but this thread has made me load up the pussy manifesto (skip to about 2min in for the song to actually start).
posted by nadawi at 1:37 PM on October 21, 2010


On re-reading maybe you're saying that you agree with me? Again, my head's a bit fuzzy. It often happens that people don't want to just come out and say "You're right."
posted by muddgirl at 1:38 PM on October 21, 2010


No, the previous one, where I thought the topic was pretty much settled (for MeFi purposes). I don't recall linkage or unanimity as a starting point.

"pussy" is an interesting case, given the etymology related above. Again, I think it would be for those purporting that people using the term are taking a historical view (via "pursy") to provide evidence to that effect. Meanwhile, we could arrive at a site-wide understanding that it is not offensive -- even intended as an insult -- given its roots in the language, but that would have no bearing on our interpretation of non-MeFites who use it, or their thoughts about us were they to hear us using it absent explanation. (though that's an interesting question: clearly a word can be offensive even if the speaker does not mean to offend; what if, here, the speaker does mean to offend, even if the word's origin does not lend itself to that interpretation -- is it not offensive?)

on preview: I haven't read the blogs you mentioned and you haven't linked to them, but I'm willing to take your word for it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:44 PM on October 21, 2010


But my original point amounted simply to: again? It's one thing to think a subject is unfinished and requires a re-hashing, but if you're going to wonder if something is considered to be a problem, maybe best to locate previous discussions of said problem.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:48 PM on October 21, 2010


It's pretty simple to do a MetaTalk search for Douchebag and watch the evolution of douchebag (or really the evolution of Metafilter) - from just another insult to, at the same time, a word that is simultaneously offensive and not-offensive to women.
posted by muddgirl at 1:50 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm with the cap'n on this one, but I've been upbraided a couple times for using it — some people apparently hear it as "C-word light," which has never been my intent in using it. So in the interest of not stirring shit, I don't use it here anymore. Now I just use my old stand-by putdown, varlet.
posted by Mister_A at 1:51 PM on October 21, 2010


the evolution of douchebag

This conjures up images of a museum exhibit wiith a diorama and a description reading "In Neanderthal times, douchebags were constructed from the scrotums of vanquished enemies horses, which was thought to provide a good omen at harvest time..."
posted by jonmc at 1:56 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well, that's what I thought, but I guess mareli did a general search and not one of MeTa particularly. Mods might consider a pre-pub disclaimer for the grey to that effect so we don't rehash these things again and again.

Though it is worth noting the different approach. Like Mister_A notes, the default is "if it offends some MeFites" please steer clear. We seldom try to reason people into accepting something that offends.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:59 PM on October 21, 2010


This nasty, thought-policey rant has no business being right above The Whelk's huggy post. Metatalk, you need to see a doctor and ask him what it means to be bi-polar.
posted by crunchland at 2:00 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It kind of cheapens 1984 when random assholes respond to "Hey, I think this is a dick move, let's not be dicks" with "THOUGHT POLICE!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:07 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So, what has been decided?
posted by nomadicink at 2:26 PM on October 21, 2010


MetaFilter: a pre-pub disclaimer
posted by beelzbubba at 2:28 PM on October 21, 2010


a pre-pub disclaimer: I'm only coming in for one this time.

sure, sure
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:30 PM on October 21, 2010



Until I saw the discussions of the word here, I never thought of it as more than a way of describing a particular type of asshole. But after following some discussions here, out of respect to my fellow MeFites that are offended by it's use, I have a made a point to not use it in this community. It will still come up in conversations with my wife and certian friends, where it's an effective, targeted word rather then an offensive phrase. It's a case of knowing your audience and being sensitive to a generally agreed upon (spoken or unspoken) decorum.


Just dropped by to say thanks, and thanks to everyone else in this thread who's indicated that on reflection, they've decided not to use the term, at least on MetaFilter.

Everyone who wants to use this term, fine. I get that you don't aim it at women or homophobically, and even that some of you use it as feminist take-back.

But I've been around quite awhile, and for most of my life the term has been used by misogynistic people who felt that anything connected with vaginas was disgusting. So no matter how it is aimed or intended these days, it is a term I hate.

That's me, that's why I feel that way, and everyone else can figure out for themselves what language they think is best for them to use, including using or not using this term.
posted by bearwife at 2:33 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, which words are banned on MeFi? It'd be nice to have a list.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:57 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


bearwife, thanks for sharing, it's really helpful to be reminded that this time and place isn't the only time and place.

I'm really into reclaiming sexist and misogynistic words, especially because sometimes it feels like if I don't, I run out of words to describe myself and my experiences because so many of them have been co-opted or invented in order to hurt women.

I feel completely free to take "cunt" as a compliment if I so choose, while acknowledging that most people don't think of it that way.

That said, my intention is not at all to hurt other women and so I will curb my use of the word significantly around people who aren't familiar with me or my thoughts about it.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:00 PM on October 21, 2010


So, which words are banned on MeFi? It'd be nice to have a list.

There's a vanishingly small list of words that are generally a really bad idea to trot out outside of a very specific contexts on the mention side of the use-mention distinction, and a somewhat larger list of words that while less notably problematic still tend to be more obnoxious or fight-starting than they're probably worth a lot of the time. It's all context-matters stuff. We've discussed the few highest-profile things a few times. I'm pretty sure you've read some of those discussions, and I have trouble believing you don't have a reasonably good idea already what a top-five list of "words it's probably not cool to fling around on Metafilter" would look like.

But if you're under the impression that specific words have been just outright no-nuance banned, you can maybe go into some detail about what they are and why. I have trouble believing that's your actual position, but I'm game if it's something you want to talk about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on October 21, 2010


So, which words are banned on MeFi? It'd be nice to have a list.

I'm not sure "banned" is the right word. The use of some words, especially in reference to other users seems to be strongly discouraged. But every single use of say, the c-word or the n-word isn't going to be auto-deleted.

(In case I'm wrong, though -- I didn't say em.) ;)
posted by zarq at 3:12 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm thinking that list would include terms that are offensive to a whole group of people on the face of it (racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.). The other words are probably, as cortex posted, context-usage words (like calling someone a specific name vs. just using that term, or calling a mefite a name vs. calling a public figure a name). Though I'm fairly new and I've never seen this list of banned words, or discussions of them, so while I worry about using a banned term, I figure that a) the above guidelines would cover such a word and/or b) the mods would let me know the first time I used such a word, if I ever do use such a word.
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:15 PM on October 21, 2010


So, which words are banned on MeFi? It'd be nice to have a list.

It's always depressing to see people react to "hey, how about not being an asshole" with "WHY DO YOU WANT TO BURN BOOKS AND CENSOR ME!" But hey -- if you want to equate avoiding sexist, racist, and homophobic language with Fahrenheit 451 then that's your (bizarre) prerogative.

Of course, nobody is talking about banning words, and you know that. Feel free to shout homophobic slurs at gay people if that's what you want! I certainly wouldn't want to ban any of your words!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 3:19 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Frobenius Twist: huh? Am I missing something?
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:21 PM on October 21, 2010


Nobody is taking "douche" away from me. There is no synonym that can adequately replace what it means. How else am I supposed to describe the men that hit on me that I find very distasteful?
posted by elpea at 3:26 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


> How else am I supposed to describe the men that hit on me that I find very distasteful?

"Men that hit on me that I find very distasteful." It doesn't quite roll of the tongue the same way, but it is more descriptive, less crude, and doesn't equate a person with a largely bygone sanitary device.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:32 PM on October 21, 2010


Nobody is taking "douche" away from me.

The way you clean your crotch
with vinegar and water, you see
a Summer's Eve with scotch
No they can't take douche away from me
posted by jonmc at 3:32 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Men that hit on me that I find very distasteful." It doesn't quite roll of the tongue the same way, but it is more descriptive, less crude, and doesn't equate a person with a largely bygone sanitary device.

That is actually LESS descriptive. There could be any number of reasons besides being a douche to find a guy distasteful.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:37 PM on October 21, 2010


I thought it was named after Lord and Lady Douchebag.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:37 PM on October 21, 2010


> That is actually LESS descriptive. There could be any number of reasons besides being a douche to find a guy distasteful.

I'm not sure why I'm even bothering, but calling someone a "douche" is a pretty subjective thing versus just saying that you find someone distasteful. One person's douche is another's prince.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:40 PM on October 21, 2010


I've never in my life called a woman a douchebag.

Then let me introduce you to a new word: "Douchette", which is used commonly among my friends/peers.


No no. It's Douche Baguette.
posted by anniecat at 3:42 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure why I'm even bothering, but calling someone a "douche" is a pretty subjective thing versus just saying that you find someone distasteful. One person's douche is another's prince.

No way. That's really like saying "One person's dog is another person's cat."Read the whole thread, especially comments from people who actually use the word often. There's a pretty narrow set of charecteristics that the word "douche" describes. It's really not subjective at all. Granted, some girls like douchey guys, and they probably wouldn't use the word, but that doesn't mean that the word isn't very descriptive.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:47 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's hard when people attribute deeper evil intentions for just plain ignorance.

No matter how hard you want to believe it, teen aged boys usually aren't being homophobic when they call someone "gay." They're just ignorant of the deeper cultural meanings. And I'm fairly certain that someone who calls someone a "douche bag" has no intention to reference a feminine hygiene device, or ascribe any feminist insult with it, regardless of how you want to interpret it.

The other day, I was watching a rerun of the British Antiques Roadshow, and in the intro, they were talking about some famous WW2 British pilot who was heading out on a crucial bombing run, when his dog, a black lab, was accidentally run over by a speeding car. The presenter, without pause or apology, said that the dog's name was "Nigger," and he even stooped down to show the memorial for the dog, with the dog's name, plain as day. I was sort of shocked. Was the owner of the dog --- a confirmed war hero, I think --- a racist? Was it an indication of a less enlightened time? Was it wrong for the more modern programmers to feature such a thing on a modern television program, or is it better to repress and sublimate stuff like that? I know I sort of resent that someone decided it was better to edit out the racist stuff from old Bugs Bunny cartoons... uh, sorry. Clearly, I'm rambling and digressing...

Anyway, in polite society, none of these words are appropriate. But I'm surprised anyone expects anything close to politeness on an anonymous internet message board. Perhaps that's a credit to the Metafilter community --- that we're striving to be more than what every other place like this is.
posted by crunchland at 3:48 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


zarq:

Douche ≠ hipster. Douche = bro. They're on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Everyone else:

Bro = less (potentially) offensive version of douche[bag], but it lacks oomph.
posted by defenestration at 3:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


> Granted, some girls like douchey guys, and they probably wouldn't use the word, but that doesn't mean that the word isn't very descriptive.

Eh, it's not very descriptive to me, but I don't hit on women so I don't really care. Though, it seems to me a pretty crude way to communicate.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


No no. It's Douche Baguette.

Wet french bread with balsamic, right?

in polite society,

Where is this polite society you speak of, earth creature?
posted by jonmc at 3:51 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Douche ≠ hipster. Douche = bro. They're on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Not really. They're actually two sides of the same coin and both are annoying and stupid. (in groups, at least. Individuals in both groups are usually OK one one one, but otherwise...)
posted by jonmc at 3:52 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have thought it through, and use it for men who are no good for women*, just like...douchebags. I don't see it as insulting to women at all.

As a contrast, I generally refuse to use the word "bitch" because it smacks of gendered hate speech


huh, so its okay to insult men with gendered speech, but not women? Aren't both bad?

I think she's got a point here.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:53 PM on October 21, 2010


if you want to equate avoiding sexist, racist, and homophobic language with Fahrenheit 451 then that's your (bizarre) prerogative.

Sorry, what? Where did I do that?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:03 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


jonmc:

The "bad" hipsters — the ones that people deride — are shitty because they're phony, obnoxious, judgmental, cowardly, fickle, and hypocritical. Bros tend to be douches, but they're earnest douches.

The spectrum I was referring to, more specifically, is the Spectrum of Annoying Urban Individuals — people who are typically lumped together through aesthetic/cultural similarities to a cultural shithead ideal.
posted by defenestration at 4:05 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


defenestration: they're all just different flavors of douches to this old fart. and they need to get the fuck off my lawn.
posted by jonmc at 4:08 PM on October 21, 2010


Wow, I had no idea this would go on for so long!
posted by mareli at 4:09 PM on October 21, 2010


Cortex: "retarded" is the only other similarly repressed word that springs to mind. If there are more, I'd appreciate a refresher, because I've lost track of them.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:13 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


You must be new to these parts.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:15 PM on October 21, 2010


Er, that was directed to mareli, obviously.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:16 PM on October 21, 2010


I never understand the argument that some particular insult shouldn't be used because it is just "lazy." I don't understand what that means.

To me, it sounds like when you tell intro-level writing students that, say, "the word good is lazy" -- the word should be avoided because it can be drastically overused and there is usually a more descriptive way to say what you want to say. But... You tell that to students because they're likely to overuse the word. It's not like it's never appropriate to call something "good." Instead, to write in an unlazy fashion, you just have to make sure that any time you use the word "good" is a time when that really gets across exactly what you wanted to get across. So, the same logic seems to imply that there would be times when one really should use the insult in question, because it really does get across what one wants to get across.

I don't tend to curse on Mefi because, well, I tend not to curse. I do use 'douchebag' as an insult when I'm in a context where I want to insult someone (and specifically because I support the feminist reading of the word), but there's never a time when Mefi is the right context for insulting someone else -- that's not what we do here. The claim that a particular insult shouldn't be used because it's bad for conversation is one I understand. I just don't see how that can fall out of its use being "lazy."
posted by meese at 4:20 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


I never understand the argument that some particular insult shouldn't be used because it is just "lazy." I don't understand what that means.

It's lazy because in actual usage it means "person I don't like," but presents as though it were an actual descriptive term with a real-world referent. Read this thread — there are plenty of people arguing that "douchebag" is in fact a descriptive term, but each of them is arguing that it describes a different set of attributes or a different group of people. It's pretty clear that its actual function is just to disparage people in a way that seems objective but isn't, and to cloak its users' unexamined dislike of certain people, sartorial choices, or behaviors in a (pretty thin) guise of value-neutral description. There are any number of insults that are used this way — see, e.g., hipster. You could run a search-and-replace and turn every reference to "douchebag" in this thread to "hipster" and it would read almost exactly the same (well, ok, maybe not the bits about actual enemas and vaginas). It's lazy because it's saying "I dislike these people — as all us right-thinking people do and as you should too — but I can't be bothered to examine or describe what in fact is wrong with them."
posted by enn at 4:34 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearly, the more important conversation that we need to have here on MeTa is one of punctuation/style: is it douchebag, douche bag, or douche-bag? I prefer the first one, personally.
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:39 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If someone takes away our right to make fun of hipsters, then MetaFilter will implode!
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:40 PM on October 21, 2010


Here's the thing about douchebag: Ever heard anyone ever use it in the literal sense? I'll bet good money you haven't, or at the very least, you've heard it used metaphorically far, far, far more usually. Ipso facto, the metaphor wins. A douchebag is an unpleasant man, especially of the type formerly referred to as chauvinist pig.

It's an attempt at humiliation to compare one to a feminine hygiene product, sure.

Prince Charles.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:46 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


apparently the hive mind has spoken, and it has said "GRAR DON'T ASK ME TO EVER THINK ABOUT THE LANGUAGE I USE!!!"

I picture the hive mind saying this in its best John Locke voice. DON'T TELL ME WHAT I CAN'T DO!
posted by sonika at 4:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"retarded" is the only other similarly repressed word that springs to mind. If there are more, I'd appreciate a refresher, because I've lost track of them.

So, the one you just used, that's one of the banned words?

I don't know how to have this conversation without feeling like you're basically asking for as straight answer to a bent question. There is no list of banned words. See my previous comment: there's certainly some words that you really ought to have a damned good reason to be using, that's as far as it goes. They're generally highly charged slurs. I really don't feel like I need to recite epithets for you for you to be aware that they need to be brought out with care.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:56 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Curses are a funny thing.

I learned earlier today that Deadwood is perhaps not ubiquitous enough to make "SAN FRANCISCO COCKSUCKER!" a universally acceptable non sequitur.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:03 PM on October 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


People use words; we judge them according to the words they choose, fairly or otherwise. Lather, rinse, repeat.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:04 PM on October 21, 2010


I think people are reading way too much into FFF's question (or maybe I'm just naieve), because I took it at face value as an honest question as to what words have been determined "banned" or bannable on MetaFilter, given both cortex and jessamyn's responses and other comments (such as the c-word being "banned"). After reading that, I sort of thought perhaps there was an actual list of words that the mods, and the community, agreed were banned. I'm sure that there are obvious words (like the n-word), and obvious uses of certain terms (as an ad hominem attack), but I don't get why people are getting upset by FFF's question, unless there is some history that I'm not aware of.
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:05 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm annoyed, not upset. The annoyance comes from knowing that FFF has been around for a long time and is pretty familiar with how this place works, which makes it deeply unlikely that he is under the misapprehension that there exists a list of banned words, which makes the question itself come across as something other than a mild good-faith request for a manifest.

We've never had a list of banned words. We've never banned any words. What we have had is a lot of discussions over the years about how people feel about specific words and phrases and types of comments; we talk about it, we hash out ideas, share perspectives on it, sometimes do a bit of hollering in the worst case, and where there's something that feels like a real unaddressed problem us mods will sometimes lay out something like a "hey, it would be great to see less careless use of this or that, we'll keep an eye out".

Even that qualified "hey cut it out some" outcome isn't particularly common; we've made some efforts to curb casual sexism, we've tried to be clear that throwing "cunt" around (which it feels like this post itself sort of did gratuitously, probably to make a point but still not great) can be really problematic for a lot of people, we talked a lot about the casual use of "retard" but that in large part a discussion about a specific user who had made it a pet word. That's about all I can think of off the top of my head where we've had to even get explicit about the "this is not a great idea" side of things. Thankfully it's never really been a case with top shelf racial epithets so we haven't had to have that particular discussion.

And I don't mind terribly discussing any of this, it's sort of what Metatalk is for and that's fine, but, yes, it's frustrating to have it throw at us from someone who has been around and ought to very well know more or less what we're going to say already from previous loops around the track.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:22 PM on October 21, 2010


So wait, I got here late. Who won?

Also, who is FFF?
posted by dubitable at 5:24 PM on October 21, 2010


It's lazy because in actual usage it means "person I don't like," but presents as though it were an actual descriptive term with a real-world referent.

But that can apply to most insults, right? What's a jerk? What is it to be mean? I, for one, am going to keep saying "douchebag" because some people are douchebags. It's one of those words I learned at the playground and it means something very specific (or specific enough) in common parlance without reference to the original meaning. Now I could say the same thing about "gay" or "fag" but using those terms in a negative context hurts people, so I don't use those terms that way or defend their usage, even though there really is no other word to describe, say, what it is to have to miss half of Katie's birthday party because I had to go to CCD. I see no compelling reason to phase out "douchebag", though, and a lot of reasons (as suggested above) why it's a perfectly cromulent word for a woman to use to describe men who are total douches. (I do have to take exception to the idea that douchebag = bro, though. What rot! Some of the sweetest, friendliest, most enthusiastic dudes on the planet are bros!)
posted by moxiedoll at 5:26 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, who is FFF?

Oh, now I see.
posted by dubitable at 5:26 PM on October 21, 2010


Also, are you guys seriously discussing this? What would actually happen either way? That's what I want to know.
posted by dubitable at 5:27 PM on October 21, 2010


Skot: "This thread reminded me of one of my mom's nurse tales. She's been an RN for going on 40 years now, so she has some dandies. She was reviewing a patient chart one day, and she noted another junior RN's chart comment: "Patient's wound is red and pussy."

Mom took the young RN aside and explained to her that maybe the phrase would be better stated as "Indications of pus" or "Pus is seen" or whatever. Then she said "Besides, Doctor Peterson prefers the word 'snatch.' "
"

It's purulent. I learned that in high school.
posted by IndigoRain at 5:38 PM on October 21, 2010


The gooch is the taint, and a choad is a tuna can penis.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 6:00 PM on October 21, 2010


So, the one you just used, that's one of the banned words?

"Strongly dissuaded from using," then.

I've previously presented argument for "retarded" to be taken back from its old use, and I think people are very foolish for continuing to lend it its old power.

But it's been thoroughly discussed and the vehemence with which people insist that it not be used has certainly made it a word I'm hesitant to use. MeFi certainly isn't the place where the word will be reclaimed.

I think "douchebag" is a great insult, because douching is an insult to a body part I adore.

But it apparently really upsets a few people to see the word used as such, and there's clear pressure to discontinue its use.

I'd just like to know for sure what-all is going to get people too upset to want to hang out on MeFi. I don't like offending people unintentionally.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:18 PM on October 21, 2010


I learned earlier today that Deadwood is perhaps not ubiquitous enough to make "SAN FRANCISCO COCKSUCKER!" a universally acceptable non sequitur.

Which is a tragedy.
I tried to popularize "hooplehead," but people just looked at me weird and probably thought I was being a douchebag.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:35 PM on October 21, 2010


Also, I'd go see Tuna Can Penis if they were playing nearby.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:36 PM on October 21, 2010


I'd just like to know for sure what-all is going to get people too upset to want to hang out on MeFi.

Most heavily culturally-laden derogatory terms are going to get someone unhappy. You take your chances when you interact in a really large community of people who you can't actually see. You've been around long enough that absolutely none of this should be news to you which is why cortex and I are left sort of saying "huh?" because it seems like you're after something that neither of us understands.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:37 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this thread, I've had a lot of fun on google images looking up "choad" and "chode" (safe search feature off, of course).
posted by 1000monkeys at 6:37 PM on October 21, 2010


I'd just like to know for sure what-all is going to get people too upset to want to hang out on MeFi. I don't like offending people unintentionally.

Then I would suggest continuing to hang around and pay attention to what people mention as being things that make them uncomfortable. That list is going to necessarily be longer and more varied than the very short list of things we've specifically made requests about and taken action on. It's on pretty much everybody to take what care they are going to to avoid needlessly making their fellow community members uncomfortable, and I'm not sure what more I personally can say definitively about that. I don't know why you'd ask for a list, it's not something I can deliver to you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:41 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


But can I still sing "Blinded by the Light"?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:06 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I am glad to know the pejorative irks so that I will not use that here but will happily use it at home. There's something so bracing about it after one has dealt with an unpleasant person to go home and mutter fuckin' douche motherfucker bloody stupid cunt. I love to swear, and my cats don't care. And the only girl around to be offended is me, and I just checked with myself, and I am not offended.
posted by angrycat at 7:12 PM on October 21, 2010


Eh, it's not very descriptive to me, but I don't hit on women so I don't really care. Though, it seems to me a pretty crude way to communicate.

People have been telling me this about cursing since I started doing it in first grade, as an answer when I asked "why should I stop?". And they can all go fuck themselves: sometimes communication should be crude. Crude communication is not necessarily unclear, or lacking in impact, or indicative of faulty reasoning.

For instance, given the option between "I believe that Henry Kissinger did a great number of morally bankrupt things, and probably didn't deserve to get to leave public office and disappear into the woodwork" and "Kissinger was a goddamn shithead", I'm going to choose the latter. Debating the facts of the situation is irrelevant; Kissinger's record is a matter of public record. But, my personal feelings on the matter are far more eloquently expressed with profanity than with reasoned discourse.

In fact, they've shown that cursing eases physical pain. Well, it eases emotional pain as well. I feel better after I've screamed unheard curses in my car. And it pleases me greatly to see the offense and emotional injury I've inflicted against an enemy with a really well-turned insult.

I know it's decidedly non-kulturny, but I want to make that clear: the purpose of an insult is to cause pain. And, sometimes, causing pain is precisely what's called for. Trying to find reasoned ways of calmly and cerebrally expressing why I dislike somebody, more often than not, kind of defeats my purpose.
posted by Netzapper at 7:15 PM on October 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


What bearwife said. The English language is a wonderful and incredibly versatile tool. While I take issue with people misinterpreting the meaning of words ( and thus the intent and motivation of the of the poster) it's not really all that difficult to find other expressions to use in place of words that have been broadly perceived as derogatory to certain blameless groups. So I am just fine with not using douche-bag, retard, fag, gay, homo, nigger and cunt.

Where this becomes problematic is when people take offense at the usage of words when they simply don't understand what they mean. As an example mouth-breather and niggardly are perfectly acceptable expressions, in my opinion, because ignorance should never be allowed to trump comprehension. Your puerile grasp of actuality is overridden by the facts.

That said, I need to go along with our mods here. It's probably better, all-round, to at least attempt to limit our use of this kind of diction when addressing our fellow members of this community.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:17 PM on October 21, 2010


Sadly, the OED has only a single dry entry for "perineum", nothing applicable under "taint", and no references whatsoever to "choad" or (and the spelling was a recurring point of debate among my friends) "chode". Hopefully someone has a good slang references they can check.

I always assumed that choad was derived from Hindi, where matachod and bhenchod mean motherfucker & sisterfucker, respectively.

Plenty of words were borrowed into slang from Indian languages in colonial times, and it makes sense that once removed from their original linguistic context they could easily mutate in meaning - probably all the more so for obscene words which would not have had their meanings stabilised by being written up in official lexicons.

Here, at least, the sexual or genital connotation remains, if my theory is correct.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:17 PM on October 21, 2010


Anyone who knows me knows that I swear like an angry dullwitted sailor most of the time. I dial it back when I'm in groups of people I don't know, or people who I am trying to make a good to decent impression on, or people who I need something from. So again it really depends what you're trying to do. If you're out to cause someone emotional pain on MetaFilter, we'd usually rather you didn't. In your own lives you can do whatever you feel is best/necessary/useful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:20 PM on October 21, 2010


"Douche usually refers to vaginal irrigation, the rinsing of the vagina, but it can also refer to the rinsing of any body cavity." So just picture a bumpipe instead.

No, I got a worse one... cleaning out tonsil stones.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:23 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I had no idea this would go on for so long!
posted by mareli at 4:09 PM

Oh, to only hear that again!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:30 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you're out to cause someone emotional pain on MetaFilter, we'd usually rather you didn't. In your own lives you can do whatever you feel is best/necessary/useful.

No, I feel you, jessamyn. I'm not defending the idea that fights should be encouraged or countenanced. I hope that I've shown through my history here that I'm not interested in personal fights with other mefites.

But, I do see the utility in referring to public figures (or figures made public by FPP) by various unflattering terminology. It's true that they probably won't read what I write about them, but it makes me feel better, and sometimes that's plenty.
posted by Netzapper at 7:31 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, if you want to know what words to avoid in mixed company, imagine you're in mixed company and imagine...what words you might avoid. It's that simple. If you're not comfortable with a certain word choice in front of an audience you don't know well there's probably a reason for that, and maybe that feeling of "oh, whoops" should be listened to. That's not the same as censoring. It's just like, "oh, whoops, that might cause offense with people who don't know me well and aren't yet enamored of my great wit and charm."

Or, as an alternative: would you say this thing you're about to say in front of your mom?

That's not always the best metric though. My mom and sister are huge fans of Shaun of the Dead. So when I was home last I was rummaging through my parents fridge, and I turned to them and said,
"Do any of you cunts want a drink?" in my best terrible british accent.
Which my mom and sister though was hilarious. HOWEVER, my dad, not being familiar with this phrase or this movie, and having no idea what I was alluding to, overheard me.

"What the FUCK DID YOU JUST SAY?!" was all I heard, and then there was this moment where I'm pretty sure I was about 10 seconds from having 140 pounds of 56 year old mechanic drag me to the sink to have my mouth washed out.
Dude, I'm 28. There was a hasty backtracking and explaining on my part which I think saved my palate from the sweet sweet tang of Zest, but it was a near thing. Which is another example of how you can't count on people to understand what context you mean something in. Especially dads. They may not weigh much but they're scrappy and they've got reach.

And since my dad doesn't frequent metafilter, so I can throw shade at him behind his back: seriously Zest?! Who uses that? Sleep with one eye open old man.
posted by supercrayon at 7:34 PM on October 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


Upon non-preview: even while telling an anecdote, and quoting myself, I still feel a little weird and guilty about using the c-word on Metafilter. Kind of wish I had written c---, although why that would make me feel better I don't know.
posted by supercrayon at 7:43 PM on October 21, 2010


I would've thought you were asking your mother & sister ""Do any of you cows want a drink?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2010


I have honestly forgotten which other words have been strongly discouraged.

It is obvious that the community norm has become one where insulting public figures needs to be done without offending our members.

I'm sorry it puzzles you that I haven't been keeping a verboten dictionary in my head. I thought it might help to have a refresher, but if not, so be it. Geez.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:19 PM on October 21, 2010


So, which words are banned on MeFi? It'd be nice to have a list.

Here's your list:






/list

There isn't a single word that I've seen banned or understood to be banned here. Pretty much all of them appear right here in this thread. Will some comments be deleted if those words are used in despicable ways? Sure, yes. Can you have a list of every despicable way they can be used? Sorry, that won't be possible. And you do know this, FFF, because you're a smart guy.
posted by taz at 8:34 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


Thankfully, the one true verboten word (or actually several thousand words) that invariably gets deleted is the Treaty of Westphalia. EVEN ON CAPS LOCK DAY
posted by Burhanistan at 9:04 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


"I am actually not going to explain [why the word 'dick' isn't as offensive] again. While the words in their most a-contextual Spocklike sense are words for female and male genitals, the way they have been used in society are worlds different. You may feel personally that this does not matter. We feel that it does."posted by jessamyn at 1:52 AM on October 22

I could listen to women talk about what is and isn't offensive to men all day.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:54 PM on October 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


No matter how hard you want to believe it, teen aged boys usually aren't being homophobic when they call someone "gay." They're just ignorant of the deeper cultural meanings.

Pull the other one. It's got bells on. Teen aged boys for damn sure know gay people exist, and they know for damn sure they use "gay" to mean something bad. I doubt there are any who honestly don't make the connection, and even the failure to make the connection is an example of how little importance they accord to considering the views (or even existence of) gay people.

The other day, I was watching a rerun of the British Antiques Roadshow, and in the intro, they were talking about some famous WW2 British pilot who was heading out on a crucial bombing run, when his dog, a black lab, was accidentally run over by a speeding car. The presenter, without pause or apology, said that the dog's name was "Nigger," and he even stooped down to show the memorial for the dog, with the dog's name, plain as day. I was sort of shocked. Was the owner of the dog --- a confirmed war hero, I think --- a racist?

What? Of course he was a racist. He named his black lab N----- for christsakes. Did someone make a knock-down argument that "war-hero" is mutually exclusive with "racist" while I wasn't looking?
posted by Marty Marx at 10:09 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I could listen to women talk about what is and isn't offensive to men all day.

No, it's not that the term isn't offensive to men; what's important here is that it's less offensive to men than other terms are to women.

This establishes the female perspective as the normative standard for judging what is or isn't offensive, and hegemonically demands that men be measured against this standard, regardless of what you might personally feel.

If this annoys you, maybe you just need to man up a bit. Go punch a wall or something.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:11 PM on October 21, 2010


What? Of course he was a racist. He named his black lab N----- for christsakes. Did someone make a knock-down argument that "war-hero" is mutually exclusive with "racist" while I wasn't looking?

For what it's worth, there's an absolutely hilarious joke about this particular war hero and his racism in the Peep Show episode "Jeremy Makes It".
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:16 PM on October 21, 2010


It's always depressing to see people react to "hey, how about not being an asshole" with "WHY DO YOU WANT TO BURN BOOKS AND CENSOR ME!"

It always sort of pisses off and depresses me, because I actually do want to burn books and censor people, but before I have a chance to even try, everyone jumps in and refutes that sentiment, and then I feel all awkward.

Zest?! Who uses that?

*Cries, but not from the soap in my eyes*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:17 PM on October 21, 2010


> If this annoys you, maybe you just need to man up a bit. Go punch a wall or something.

I think Effigy2000 was poking around rather than being serious.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:23 PM on October 21, 2010


Are you accusing me of being serious? You and me, outside, NOW!!!
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:29 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, it is lovely out this time of year.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:31 PM on October 21, 2010


I'm not defending the idea that fights should be encouraged or countenanced. ... But, I do see the utility in referring to public figures (or figures made public by FPP) by various unflattering terminology.

I guess where this breaks down for me is that referring to public figures in nasty ways is usually a great way of starting a fight. Again, it's about context and about knowing your audience.
posted by Forktine at 10:36 PM on October 21, 2010


mareli: “Is anyone else bothered by the widespread use here and elsewhere of the term douche or douchebag? I don’t know when it started being used so widely. I wish people would look at the connotations.”

I'm amazed that nobody seems to have said this (although I'm sure somebody has, since I've read this but in 300 comments you miss some) – a lot of us use the word "douchebag" precisely because of the connotations. Haven't you noticed this, mareli? Seriously, it's hard for me to see how someone could miss the implications of the term when people use it.

Yes, "douchebag" has sexist overtones. That's because "douchebags" are sexist implements. They're implements that imply that women's private parts are filthy and need to be cleaned. That's offensive and sexist. So when you call someone a "douchebag," you're calling them offensively harsh, and you're implying that they're sexist. And that's the context that a lot of us use it in, knowing precisely where it came from. You might notice that when I call someone a "douchebag" (and it's generally the worst insult I allow myself here) they are usually male, and they are often a sexist. In fact, it's a term I use almost exclusively for sexists. And you might notice that that seems to be a growing usage of the word, at least in my experience.
posted by koeselitz at 11:03 PM on October 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Forget the gender politics implications. The word should fall in disuse because it's just silly. People abbreviate it to 'douche'. Which just means 'shower'.
'Don't be a shower', 'Hey you shower'.
It lacks oomph.
posted by joost de vries at 11:28 PM on October 21, 2010


What's up with metafilter and ellipsis in insults?
c-word, r-word, n-word.
I always thought it is possible to refer to a term, "cunt" f.i., without subscribing to any of its pragmatic or social applications.
It's probably a US cultural thing.
From a european perspective it seems a bit childish. As in: I want to refer to this word without any children around learning about this word.
posted by joost de vries at 11:38 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas, on, e.g., cunt versus dick:

No, it's not that the term isn't offensive to men; what's important here is that it's less offensive to men than other terms are to women.

This establishes the female perspective as the normative standard for judging what is or isn't offensive, and hegemonically demands that men be measured against this standard, regardless of what you might personally feel.


Hegemony

Do you believe that women are the larger, more dominant, powerful group on Metafilter or in life? Do you also feel like gay men and black people are the more dominant groups in society, since they also tend to find terms like "fag," and "nigger" more offensive than most straight/white people find terms like "breeder" or "cracker"? Because decent society has pretty much agreed not to use those terms, and people are judged against this standard, regardless of what you might personally feel.

I seriously don't know if you joking, because you joke around a lot. As a woman I would selfishly be delighted to accept being called a cunt 25 times a day if in exchange it meant women exercised the preponderant social, cultural, ideological, and economic influence and authority in the world. It's like an old employer of mine once said: Everybody who works here has the right to call the boss an asshole.

Do you truly believe that using particularly vile words to refer to at-risk, historically oppressed groups is the same as using similar words against the "bosses"? A lot of people hate other people because they are female/gay/black, and have the power and will to make their lives worse, or even take their lives. Using hate speech against those groups fortifies and reinforces the beliefs of those angry, dangerous people and retards social progress, which is why, yes, there are different standards. Please say you already knew this.
posted by taz at 11:57 PM on October 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


it was a joke, in response to Effigy2000's joke - trying for some kind of circular & contradictory reductio ad absurdum, which is how things sometimes go when i haven't had nearly enough sleep.

i just had a catnap on the floor next to my desk the carpet cleaners here do a swell job, it was almost like sleeping on crisp hotel sheets!
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:14 AM on October 22, 2010


.

(correcting for a missing full stop up there)
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:15 AM on October 22, 2010


I think I might have been the first person on mefi to come out as a feminist for "douchebag," and "douchenozzle," and "douchelord." Yaaaaaaaaaaay for me, cultured as a pearl.

It's been said here about the "pointless hateful thing, specifically repellant to women" part, but as to the "EW GROSS IT'S BEEN IN A VAGINA VAGINAS ARE GROSSSS" possibility.... yo, that inanimate object is unsanitary in spirit and in fact, icky to behold. I picture it left in the tub by a horror of a housemate. I mean, if it's washed and stored, it's a douchekit, no? Which is like, what you'd call the guy before the guy pops his collar, when he's just thinking of his corny pickup lines in the shower, using his Axe Detailer.

I like colorful insults, and I don't plan to drop the d-bag family, but for fun-to-sayness and saltiness, funky gusset, asscracker (I think of saltines stored back there), scabnibbler, fleshwound, pigtickler, fecal sample, and many others are probably superior.

We use it in roller derby a lot, which is a group of tough, confident women. The "Don't be a douchebag" rule is about not hitting someone harder than you need to, say, a new player. It's not at all "don't be a pussy," and it is sort of, in that context, the gender-neutral "dick." Violators of the golden rule, flouters of the categorical imperative; these are the douches.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:17 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]



I always thought it is possible to refer to a term, "cunt" f.i., without subscribing to any of its pragmatic or social applications.
It's probably a US cultural thing.
From a european perspective it seems a bit childish. As in: I want to refer to this word without any children around learning about this word.


Oh god am I tired of the idea that taking pains to be sensitive to issues of race and gender is a feature of immaturity. This particular phrasing is really condescending, too.

In any case, from a USian perspective, this view is a bit myopic. Sure, you can use a word without endorsing its other uses, but there are other reasons to use stand-ins. First, there's a strong taboo against certain racial and sexual epithets because of how they are now and have been used to oppress others. So yeah, I write n----- because it makes me viscerally uncomfortable to write it out. Mock me for my childishness if you like, but I'd rather I acquired my aversion than the opposite.

But there's also the fact that I don't want to be confused with or give cover to the oh so many people who take any chance they can to drop n-bombs on the pretext of quoting someone else, or having a discussion about racial epithets and so forth. (Not that just writing it out means you're one of those folks, of course, all A are B does not entail all B are A and all that).

One of the most unpleasant people I knew in undergraduate taunted our sociology professor during a lecture on racism for his refusal to write anything more than "N-----" on the board. He made the same argument about how we were all mature enough to know the professor didn't mean it 'that way' and that the professor's oversensitivity was silly. The prof, who instantly became one of my favorites, responded, "I'm not going to do it because context matters when using words. The context that matters here is that whatever my intentions are, I'm a white man. You know as well as I do why that matters, and why I'm not going to write it because you dare me to."

I can see contexts where this would be unreasonable -- if I were writing an academic article about reclaiming racial epithets, for example, it'd get cloying and silly. But on a pseudonymous message board, I think my position is just fine.
posted by Marty Marx at 1:25 AM on October 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh god, this shit again?
posted by IvoShandor at 2:23 AM on October 22, 2010


Christ, what a fishbike.
posted by flabdablet at 2:25 AM on October 22, 2010


What's up with metafilter and ellipsis in insults?

That's a very big question, far bigger than Metafilter. Taboo avoidance is a rich and complex topic going back in some recognizable typographical forms at least several hundred years (here's a nice example from the late 17th century). Language Log has featured a bunch of discussion of the subject, though for a quick little glance there's this good.is primer.

It's not a metafilter thing; in fact, while I see people doing variations like "f---" and "f-ck" and "f$ck" and "f-word" and so on around here sometimes, most people just let fly with the faithful rendering, especially with those words which are blue but not slurs, and taboo avoidance itself is often treated to some sort of negative comment: the person writing "sh#t" will get mocked by someone asserting that e.g. we're all adults here and if you mean "shit" then you should write "shit" and have done with it. Which is a sentiment I tend to agree with in general but isn't always itself expressed all that well either.

The tendency toward taboo avoidance is I think greater where actual racist or sexist slurs are involved (though even there far from universal on the site), as a reflection I think of the discomfort those terms are known to cause many people not just for their saltiness but for their ugly sociolinguistic function and the way in which they have been used not just to offend but to target individuals and groups. Many people just don't particularly feel the need or the justification to write out e.g. the word "nigger" even in a conversation about the word or words like it. It's a personal choice, but also an inherently social choice; I tend to write it out vs. something like "n-word" on the rare occasions where it's pertinent in part out of a stubborn belief that it's important to retain the right to mention even ugly words without malice.

But even at that it always gives me pause, and there are plenty of situations where I would decline to write it all and a few where if I were somehow compelled to discuss it I would indeed do so in an obfuscated manner because the setting was not one where I felt sure I could safely make the case that what was going on was an unmalicious mention. Metafilter is one of those places where I usually feel safe about it, but all the same there's the distinction between me feeling like I can safely mention a word clinically and me knowing for sure that I'm not going to make someone with more of a stake in it uncomfortable even at that, and I am pretty much by definition incapable of reading minds en masse and hence being sure about that latter part, so I don't get casual about it.

Anyway, I don't think it's at all childish, though I understand it may look odd if you don't routinely encounter it; I think it's enormously complicated. I find prescriptive hectoring far more troubling than I do individual personal choices about taboo avoidance: any given person can nerf or decline to nerf their curse words as they see fit, I have no complaint on that front in isolation (though certainly context matters enormously), but holler at other people about what they must or mustn't write and we may well have words.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:26 AM on October 22, 2010 [12 favorites]


Bowdlerized writing does reduce the likelihood of Mefi falling victim to overzealous workplace content filters, which is a courtesy to those whose managers are of the clbuttic pointy haired variety.
posted by flabdablet at 3:04 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


marty marx, my question was meant as a question, not a veiled criticism. From where I'm standing it seems quaint. But that doesn't mean it's not a valid form of politesse in writing where you are standing (in the US I presume). Please accept my olive branch, offering of myrrh and pouring out of beer (libation) as a token of friendship.
To put it more clearly; I'm not calling people who write h*r childish.

Sure, you can use a word without endorsing its other uses What I was trying to point out was that discussing the use of a word is not the same as using a word. But maybe that's a rather logical way of looking at things that doesn't hold water in the midst of strong social tensions.

Bowdlerized writing does reduce the likelihood of Mefi falling victim to overzealous workplace content filters
Good point. I didn't think of that since I don't access metafilter from work.

The tendency toward taboo avoidance is I think greater where actual racist or sexist slurs
Interesting to frame it as a taboo question. Quite rightfully so I can imagine. We tend to think of ourselves as rational cerebral beings. But when it comes to controversial topics that involve us as an individual we do tend to make illogical shortcuts and feel insulted when no pugnacious meaning can be found in the individual parts of the text and the composition.
That reminds me of the notion of sympathetic magic. Just by speaking the word 'hipster' I associate myself with people who use that word and the ways that they act towards those kind of people and taint myself with some of its meaning. Eliding some vowels from the word functions as a protective spell, as an extra way of distancing ourselves from the word.
I think that we all use notions of magic in dealing with the world. So that seems a perfectly valid point.

There is a minor risk that ellipsis gives these kind of words more power. It's the role and prerogative of a culture, like the US - mefi intersection, to make these choices.

Of course it's for me as a European much easier to behold the sliver of cultural sensitivity of US americans than to perceive the full blown taboo in mine own eye.
posted by joost de vries at 4:36 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


but holler at other people
Holla back right at ya my main man, fuckin' a.
posted by joost de vries at 4:38 AM on October 22, 2010


Just read the last link. The term euphemism also offers an interesting take on this. It's an upper-middle class thing to view euphemisms as a middle class thing that are frowned upon. So there's a class warfare aspect as well.
posted by joost de vries at 4:41 AM on October 22, 2010


Just remembered the ultimate insult I came up with in a fit of pique at an individual who had seriously cheesed me off:

Toilet brush licker.

Doesn't get lower than that.
posted by sonika at 4:48 AM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


What? Of course he was a racist. He named his black lab N----- for christsakes. Did someone make a knock-down argument that "war-hero" is mutually exclusive with "racist" while I wasn't looking? --- I guess I was more mildly surprised that they thought it was fine to air a segment about it on a current television program.
posted by crunchland at 5:07 AM on October 22, 2010


Netzapper's And it pleases me greatly to see the offense and emotional injury I've inflicted against an enemy with a really well-turned insult, more than anything else in this thread, reminds me how different we MeFites are; I don't think I've ever deliberately and successfully made someone feel appreciably worse by insulting them.

One reason people have been talking at cross-purposes in this discussion is that they approach insults with different goals in mind. You might insult third parties while talking to trusted friends, or use an insult by yourself in a self-soothing soliloquy, or directly insult the person you're talking to. Netzapper has far more experience with the last scenario than I do. The different situations provide different affordances, and certain insults lend themselves more to private than to public use.

I see MetaFilter as a public forum where I balance the pleasure I get from self-expression with the pleasure I get from communicating usefully with others, and where the latter pleasure requires more careful writing because y'all are brains unfamiliar to me. Thus these community check-ins -- how do we feel about this problematic phrase? -- are useful to me. And I imagine I'd reserve insults with sexist, racist, ableist, homophobic, or similar connotations to one-on-one direct insultery, where I wouldn't inadvertently make some bystander's day slightly less pleasant. But then again, I'm not much of a direct insulter. (Except accidentally, of course.) So maybe there's a temperamental difference between people who, by default, do or do not think of insultees as people right in front of them who will be rightly hurt by the insults. I'm trying to work through this and welcome further musings.
posted by brainwane at 5:14 AM on October 22, 2010


Christ, what a fishbike.

Um... huh?


Anyway, having read pretty much this whole thread, here's how my internal dialog went on this issue:
ego: Well, when I use the word douchebag, which is rare, I certainly don't mean it as anything like the way mareli described it in the post. It's just a description of a guy with certain undesirable characteristics.

superego: Ok, but would you call a woman a douchebag?

ego: No.

superego: Why not?

ego: I'm worried it would seem misogynist or sexist.

superego: Well then?

ego: I see your point.
posted by FishBike at 5:42 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men? Bitch? Whore? Slut? I do not really see any of them being used on this website. Does a word like that exist?
posted by anonymuk at 6:20 AM on October 22, 2010


I use "douche" because modern thought generally runs that the vagina is self cleaning and does not need to be irritated with vinegar or other typical inter-vaginal cleaning products. So a douchebag is a redundant and intruding irritant.

I would call both genders a "douche", though I'm likelier to call both genders a "dick", which is sexist, but I mentally construct as meaning "an inappropriate penis", such as one shown to you by a flasher.

So: "S/he's such a douche, s/he gives service staff a hard time!" <>
or "Don't be a dick! Whether or not someone is fat is none of your business!" <>
But mostly I use "Jerk".
posted by Phalene at 6:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men?

"Ballbuster" is an insult that is pretty much reserved for women.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:55 AM on October 22, 2010


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men? Bitch? Whore? Slut? I do not really see any of them being used on this website. Does a word like that exist?

I think it's not so much that the words don't exist, so much as that the cultural context that would establish their particular offensiveness to men doesn't exist.

The sexists insults we're concerned about derive their insult value from a context that there is something undesirable or inferior about women or the female gender. The insult likens a man to one of those attributes, implying that he is similarly inferior. Even if the person hurling the insult has divorced the word from its original context, it can't help but be a reminder of those ridiculous old assertions of female inferiority to many people.

Whereas, even insults like calling a woman a dick, which logically ought to be similarly offensive to men, are not, because we never had that cultural context where it implied there was something wrong with being a man. It doesn't remind us of a time when we were commonly put down because of our gender, or that there are still people who continue to do that to us, because there wasn't such a time and there are almost no people who do that.
posted by FishBike at 6:57 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interesting to frame it as a taboo question. Quite rightfully so I can imagine.

Well, it's not my phrase, just the descriptor I'm familiar with for that genre of verbal/textual elisions. I think there's a little bit of trickiness to it because using "taboo" there might read to some people as "thing I think is bad" rather than "thing that has acknowledged baggage"—as if by talking about taboo avoidance we're granting somehow the righteousness of any given taboo.

But, that small concern aside, I do think it's a useful phrase because it places some focus on the idea that much of this is a reflection of a desire to accommodate external agents in speech and writing—that the person electing to in one way or another munge their language is doing so not because they fear words but because they understand that communicating in mixed company is complicated.

Which still can be sort of odd in some cases, and I think there are better and worse ways to go about this—writing "f*ck" on swear-friendly metafilter is a bit conspicuous and silly, reverting to "f-word" in front of your saintly grandma may be tactically wise, avoiding writing out racial slurs is pretty generally defensible in any context, etc—but the awareness that in many cases people electing to take some mild duck behind the veil with the strongest of their language are doing so out of an attempt at thoughtfulness and deference toward their fellow human being tempers, I think, some of the questionable nature of a language act that manages still to some extent evoke the words being formally avoided. People may not always be perfectly rational in the way that they attempt to accommodate one another, but a little irrationality in the service of kindness where the stakes are low is almost always a good thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:01 AM on October 22, 2010


This past weekend I went to a library conference where there was a dinner speaker, Joe Raiola, the senior editor of MAD Magazine. His talk was called the Joy of Censorship and included more than a conversational amount of swearing. Lots of cunt talk. His big bit was how he wasn't going to say "n-word" when he meant nigger, but that also he pretty much never meant it unless he was referring to something shitty someone else said. Same with cunt. Not a word he uses. He did a routine about how you'll see people reclaiming various words like queer and nigger and use them to refer to someone else, affectionately or collegially. He then said "You don't really see this with cunt. "Heeeey cunt, how's my cunt, you know you ma cunt dontcha!"

I was sitting in the back of the room and pretty much lost it and thought it was hilarious. The mixed mostly librarian audience [and the ones who ponied up for the banquet] had what could best be described as mixed reactions. It was a worthwhile exercise, beat The Vagina Monologues anyday.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 AM on October 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men?

Ice queen?
posted by burnmp3s at 7:35 AM on October 22, 2010


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men?

Dr. William Murderface's answer is soul-murderers.

(Before that, Dethkolk does Conan impersonations.)
posted by Drastic at 7:42 AM on October 22, 2010


FishBike: "we never had that cultural context where it implied there was something wrong with being a man."

What about stuff like this:

"Guys are CLUELESS most of the time (I'm a guy if that's not obvious)."
"By 21, some of the decent guys are starting to pull their heads out of their asses. Which is to say, things are going to start looking up."

I don't really see it as so black and white. Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's a generational thing.
posted by anonymuk at 8:08 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about stuff like this [...]

My take on those is they're gender-specific instances of fairly equal-opportunity perceptions. They only specifically reference "guys" because that's who the OP of that question is interested in.

My impression is it's commonly thought that people in general are clueless when it comes to whichever gender(s) interest them, and that rectal-cranial inversion is a pretty common trait of young people who are still learning the complexities of human interaction.

But that's maybe now my own personal context rather than even a larger cultural context. So yeah, the only way any of this is black and white for me is in the literal sense that it's black text on a white background at the moment.
posted by FishBike at 8:36 AM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men?

Why discriminate? Seriously.
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's an insult that one would feel comfortable using against a woman, but does not apply to men?

Cum dumpster? I am jealous of people who have not come across this term in their day to day existence.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:52 AM on October 22, 2010


No, that could technically apply to men also.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 AM on October 22, 2010


Cum dumpster? I am jealous of people who have not come across this term in their day to day existence.

Oddly, I first heard it used in reference to a man. Which was troublesome on its own.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2010


I am jealous of people who have not come across this term in their day to day existence.

Well, now I have. :P

I keep learning new and disgusting terms from MeFi. Perhaps I live a sheltered existence.
posted by zarq at 9:57 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Technically any insult could apply cross-gender though. Has anyone really heard this one applied to men?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2010


On preview, huh.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2010


Technically any insult could apply cross-gender though.

To someone who isn't: "You're pregnant?! Yay! Congratulations! So how far along are you?"
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on October 22, 2010


Which now that I think of it could be shortened to "So when's your baby due?"
posted by zarq at 10:04 AM on October 22, 2010


"So when's your baby due?" would actually be a pretty effective way to insult a guy with a big beer belly.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:09 AM on October 22, 2010


Doh!
posted by zarq at 10:22 AM on October 22, 2010


Cum dumpster? I am jealous of people who have not come across this term in their day to day existence.

In more refined company, the polite term is semen ashtray.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 10:32 AM on October 22, 2010


Strumpet
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 AM on October 22, 2010


All this time I've thought that a douchebag was a sort of cozy or carry-all for a douche bottle. You know how everything has a case these days hanging on the impulse-buy display by the pharmacy counter? I figured it was a neoprene holder or something for those active ladies who like to douche on the go.
posted by Askr at 10:41 AM on October 22, 2010


Slammerkin!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:46 AM on October 22, 2010


These threads are always weird to me. I have a list of words that are "button" words to me. My reaction to these words are usually out of proportion to the actual offensiveness of the word. I acknowledge that my sensitivity to these words are mine to deal with. I know some people share my distaste, but that the majority doesn't. When it comes to certain words I lack the fine tuning to know when they are actually appropriate. I generally find them irritating regardless of context.

Douchebag doesn't even land on my radar.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:28 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it would be weirder if we all had the same "button" words, or even the same radar.
posted by anonymuk at 12:51 PM on October 22, 2010


"So when's your baby due?" would actually be a pretty effective way to insult a guy with a big beer belly.

There was this dude Stan who lived on my old block. He worked in a shop that made and sold scented candles. The guy was hilarious and awesome, but the first few times we met he offended me by asking me when my baby was due. I asked his friends about it, and they told me he said that to all the women. (I do not know if I believe this, but whatever.) Eventually, Stan and I began greeting each other by each asking the other when they were gonna have that baby already.
posted by brina at 2:00 PM on October 22, 2010


To me it's one of those slightly cringeworthy Americanisms that than imply an infantilised relationship with the adult human body, particularly in relation to female sexuality. But then, I'm British and we don't use the word here.

Hmmm... I think most cultures seem to have a blind spot when it comes to their own linguistic peculiarities and failings.

Surely wanker is an insult only insomuch as masturbation is considered a shameful behavior. Unless I'm misinformed, both Brits and Americans regularly use "Shit!" as an expletive to indicate an unwelcome suprise, but I doubt that Americans use "Oh, balls" at anywhere near the frequency that the Brits say "Oh, bollocks". Do you people still use pillock or plonker to refer to people who are not intelligent? They're both originally slang terms for the penis.

Look, insults are insults. They're not supposed to be elevated or mature (the opposite of infantilized?). They're supposed to be bawdy. They're supposed to be common.

And, really, the most frequently used insults are parts of the human body, animals, or terms once or currently used to describe a person with a "disability": dumb, lame, retarded, mental, spazz, idiot, and so on.

The use of a "cleaning" device as an insult is, in my opinion, quite inventive as insults go. Because of its connection with women and the idea of being "unclean", I'm sometimes wary of using it but when thinking of someone who is both useless and annoying, I'm afraid the word "douche" always floats the top of my mind.
posted by Deathalicious at 2:02 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, this is a weird thread. "Cum dumpster" is something that you'd feel comfortable calling a woman as an insult, but wouldn't use with a man?

It takes a lot to make me blanche, but I don't think I could ever call a woman a cum dumpster without really, really, really being friends with her first.
posted by klangklangston at 2:21 PM on October 22, 2010


"Cum dumpster" is something that you'd feel comfortable calling a woman as an insult, but wouldn't use with a man?

Whenever we want a quick laugh, my partner and I call each other cum dumpsters. When you sit down and think about it, it's such a ridiculous thing to say.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:42 PM on October 22, 2010


I mean, it's a dumpster. Full of cum. Come on, that's hilarious.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:43 PM on October 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


A cumpster, if you will.
posted by gman at 2:44 PM on October 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Not if you're a garbageman, it's not.
posted by jonmc at 2:45 PM on October 22, 2010 [7 favorites]


> Maybe if we prounounced it all French and shit, like 'doo-shay...'
>
> Unfortunately, in French it's still pronounced just "doosh." "Doo-shay" would be douché.
> posted by sonika at 11:47 AM on October 21 [+] [!]

touché
posted by jfuller at 3:19 PM on October 22, 2010


I use "douchebag" as an insult to refer to people who are outmoded, useless, and toxic to women. Much like actual douchebags.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:25 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone will take away my stylebook if I don't point out that (contra my comment), Dumpster is capitalized. It's a proper noun, sheeple!
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on October 22, 2010


Calling people assholes implies that all rectums are dirty, and that people with rectums are dirty people.
posted by rhizome at 4:02 PM on October 22, 2010


I use "douchebag" as an insult to refer to people who are outmoded

I use "outmoded" to refer to people who have less ice cream than I do.

How much do I have? Wouldn't you like to know.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:09 PM on October 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Do you believe that women are the larger, more dominant, powerful group on Metafilter or in life? Do you also feel like gay men and black people are the more dominant groups in society, since they also tend to find terms like "fag," and "nigger" more offensive than most straight/white people find terms like "breeder" or "cracker"? Because decent society has pretty much agreed not to use those terms, and people are judged against this standard, regardless of what you might personally feel.

I seriously don't know if you joking, because you joke around a lot. As a woman I would selfishly be delighted to accept being called a cunt 25 times a day if in exchange it meant women exercised the preponderant social, cultural, ideological, and economic influence and authority in the world. It's like an old employer of mine once said: Everybody who works here has the right to call the boss an asshole.

Do you truly believe that using particularly vile words to refer to at-risk, historically oppressed groups is the same as using similar words against the "bosses"? A lot of people hate other people because they are female/gay/black, and have the power and will to make their lives worse, or even take their lives. Using hate speech against those groups fortifies and reinforces the beliefs of those angry, dangerous people and retards social progress, which is why, yes, there are different standards. Please say you already knew this.


Good lord, please make it stop. The ONLY people perpetuating any hegemony are gender and race studies students trotting out this tripe.

Please repeat after me:

"sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me"

and

"people only have the power over me that I allow them to have"
posted by gjc at 6:33 PM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"people only have the power over me that I allow them to have"

This is a delightful sentiment if you don't count the power to do things like vote, own property, drive a car, make an equal wage or attain executive level at Fortune 500 companies. All of which have been obtained by people being concerned about social inequality enough to be slightly rude about it.

If it's not your thing, that's totally fine, but it's not just gender studies who think that equal rights and equal opportunity for people of all genders is a good idea. It's actually most people.

I got "told" to smile yesterday by a person who had the power to keep me from getting on my scheduled flight out of an airport. Until I'm more comfortable that this sort of thing isn't happening to me because I'm female [female and scowling] I will continue to bring things like this up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:38 PM on October 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


gjc: “people only have the power over me that I allow them to have”

The morality of hermits and megalomaniacs.
posted by koeselitz at 6:49 PM on October 22, 2010



Good lord, please make it stop. The ONLY people perpetuating any hegemony are gender and race studies students trotting out this tripe.


Man, I'm not fond of some of the academic disciplines coming out of the eighties either, but this seems like a gross overreaction.
posted by angrycat at 7:01 PM on October 22, 2010


"Good lord, please make it stop. The ONLY people perpetuating any hegemony are gender and race studies students trotting out this tripe."

Hear that, ladies? You're not judged for your looks anymore! You get equal pay! Equal access to careers! Congrats on ending rape — sure is a bummer those gender and race studies students are keeping it going. And hop yourselves on a plane to Afghanistan or Iran, because you're going to love the changes made since this morning!

Where my gays at? Holler if you love this, guys, but you can get married and have the same rights as of 6:33pm (Pacific, of course). And while you're still going to get called, "fag" if you kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend, there's absolutely no chance in literally getting chained to a fence and beaten to death! Unless you hang out with one of them scary sexuality studies majors.

Hey black people, I can totally call all of you my, well, y'know, even though I can, I'm not gonna, but you know the word I mean! But you won't care because cops have stopped beating you and falsely charging you, racial profiling is over, and you won't ever be denied a job because of your name or your hair!

And if you could pass it on to anyone who looks swarthy, you guys can totally get back on airplanes and go to Arizona again. We promise that you won't be falsely arrested or harassed or anything! Well, unless you get one of those liberal arts majors pulling you over.

Because we all know that hegemony is only perpetuated by people who can spell hegemony.
posted by klangklangston at 7:06 PM on October 22, 2010 [20 favorites]


"Ballbuster" is an insult that is pretty much reserved for women.

No it's not. I've heard that term used for men quite a few times. Usually for someone in a supervisory postion.

because we never had that cultural context where it implied there was something wrong with being a man. It doesn't remind us of a time when we were commonly put down because of our gender, or that there are still people who continue to do that to us, because there wasn't such a time and there are almost no people who do that.

If you're specifically talking within the context of the patriarchal system of authority that's been around forever than of course, but I would have to disagree with you if you're saying that there are not any terms expressly used to attack a man his manhood. Granted we could have a whole conversation about some of the dimunitive terms used for men are womanly, but within this specific context you could conversely say the same thing could be applied to some of the terms attacking womanhood.
Just to be clear I'm not saying that there is some kind of one-to-one oppressive connotations between terms for slagging men and women. Just that there is gender specific slagging for everyone.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2010


Someone will take away my stylebook if I don't point out that (contra my comment), Dumpster is capitalized. It's a proper noun, sheeple!

Damn you and your Upstyle Capitalization!
posted by 1000monkeys at 8:20 PM on October 22, 2010


The thing about a cum dumpster is that once a week its contents--along with the contents of a dozen other cum dumpsters--are emptied into a cum truck, which then transports said contents to a cum landfill. So there are two much worse insults right there; three, if your particular municipality happens to have a cum sorting depot.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:46 PM on October 22, 2010


Some municipalities gave cum recycling depots a shot. Most of them discovered that it's a sticky situation, though, and had to wipe their hands clean of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:48 AM on October 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's just go back to asswipe.
But let's pronounce it different.
Ah-swee-pay!
posted by Balisong at 11:25 PM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me"

Ah, if only libel court agreed.
posted by mippy at 2:01 AM on October 24, 2010


So there are two much worse insults right there; three, if your particular municipality happens to have a cum sorting depot.

I don't know. It's starting to sound kind of bureaucratic.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:11 AM on October 24, 2010


Or cryptic. Municipality is an anagram of "cum in it(t)y pail"
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:25 AM on October 24, 2010


adipocere: "The popped collar represents a yearning for our missing foreskins"

To Hell with that, I don't want mine back.
posted by bwg at 7:52 AM on October 24, 2010


I always thought the British term 'wanker' was a good alternative to 'douchebag'.
posted by bwg at 8:06 AM on October 24, 2010


Wanking, however, is a perfectly honourable pastime, so I never quite got how it's an insult — except when applied to guitar solos.
posted by Crane Shot at 9:09 AM on October 24, 2010


This is a delightful sentiment if you don't count the power to do things like vote, own property, drive a car, make an equal wage or attain executive level at Fortune 500 companies. All of which have been obtained by people being concerned about social inequality enough to be slightly rude about it.

Which has fuck-all to do with the topic, which is name calling.

I admire and respect anyone who stands up for their rights, because it IS difficult and requires courage and fortitude. But that's not what the comment I quoted was doing.

If it's not your thing, that's totally fine, but it's not just gender studies who think that equal rights and equal opportunity for people of all genders is a good idea. It's actually most people.

I agree. Equality is a good thing. That's not what the poster said though. The poster said it was OK (or at least less offensive) to use rude words about men, because men are "the bosses". That isn't equality.


I got "told" to smile yesterday by a person who had the power to keep me from getting on my scheduled flight out of an airport.

They had the power to keep you off the flight if you didn't smile for them? I find that hard to believe.


Until I'm more comfortable that this sort of thing isn't happening to me because I'm female [female and scowling] I will continue to bring things like this up.

What leads you to believe that this person targeted you for his intrusive comment because you are female? And even if that is true, what leads you to believe that his comments are anything more than his own innate assholishness? And even if he does believe that society gives him permission to be a greater asshole to women, that doesn't make it true.

And if all of that is true, and I'm just completely wrong, how do you account for the instances when scowling men are told to smile or cheer up?

Perception is the reality of the individual, but that doesn't make it rational or accurate.
posted by gjc at 9:30 AM on October 24, 2010


Hear that, ladies? You're not judged for your looks anymore! You get equal pay! Equal access to careers! Congrats on ending rape — sure is a bummer those gender and race studies students are keeping it going. And hop yourselves on a plane to Afghanistan or Iran, because you're going to love the changes made since this morning!

Where my gays at? Holler if you love this, guys, but you can get married and have the same rights as of 6:33pm (Pacific, of course). And while you're still going to get called, "fag" if you kiss your boyfriend or girlfriend, there's absolutely no chance in literally getting chained to a fence and beaten to death! Unless you hang out with one of them scary sexuality studies majors.

Hey black people, I can totally call all of you my, well, y'know, even though I can, I'm not gonna, but you know the word I mean! But you won't care because cops have stopped beating you and falsely charging you, racial profiling is over, and you won't ever be denied a job because of your name or your hair!

And if you could pass it on to anyone who looks swarthy, you guys can totally get back on airplanes and go to Arizona again. We promise that you won't be falsely arrested or harassed or anything! Well, unless you get one of those liberal arts majors pulling you over.


How is studying about it within the privilege and safety of a college classroom really going to stop any of that?

But that is an excellent example of strawman creation. Weren't we talking about name calling? Suddenly I'm the Grand Big Giant Hat of the Illinois Nazis?

Because we all know that hegemony is only perpetuated by people who can spell hegemony.

I'm pretty sure that's true.


Seriously though, there is always more work to do in the struggle for equality and "tolerance" or "acceptance". (I hate those words because they imply there is something negative that must be tolerated or accepted. But I can't think of a better word.)

Creating boogeymen isn't going to help any of us.
posted by gjc at 9:55 AM on October 24, 2010



And if all of that is true, and I'm just completely wrong, how do you account for the instances when scowling men are told to smile or cheer up?


Men aren't told to smile nearly as often. It's not seen as our job to smile and be pretty, so people don't tell us nearly as often what expression we should be having on our face. I'm sure I've been told "smile!" at some point in my life, but I honestly couldn't tell you when the last time was.

My wife gets told to smile all the time, often in situations like the one Jessamyn describes, where an older man with a small degree of power (eg plane rescheduling, getting the samples at a paint store, etc) uses that power to extract some compliance and subservience from her. It gets old, and it's shitty that it happens to her and not me.
posted by Forktine at 10:05 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


"But that is an excellent example of strawman creation. Weren't we talking about name calling? Suddenly I'm the Grand Big Giant Hat of the Illinois Nazis?"

I didn't call you names. You said that the only people perpetuating hegemony were racial and gender studies students. I pointed out that wasn't true, and was in fact pretty specious bullshit. That your stated views align you with folks who would perpetuate the myriad inequalities isn't my fault, and it's not a straw man to point that out. If you're insulted by being labeled as someone who's dismissive about inequality, work harder on not coming across as someone dismissive of inequality.

"I'm pretty sure that's true."

Yeah, except it's not. That was kind of the point, you know, pointing out all the ways that hegemony is perpetuated. Is the problem simply that you don't know what hegemony means? And as far as griping that studying hegemony doesn't end it, that's moving the goalposts a bit, since you said it was perpetuated by those who study it, and only those who study it. Which was, to engage in a little bit of namecalling, a douchebag statement to make.
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 AM on October 24, 2010


"tolerance" or "acceptance". (I hate those words because they imply there is something negative that must be tolerated or accepted. But I can't think of a better word.)

/rubs eyes, reads again, still doesn't understand
posted by angrycat at 11:02 AM on October 24, 2010


i mean weren't you being all like fucking language police a few posts earlier? I may be confused.
posted by angrycat at 11:03 AM on October 24, 2010


And even if he does believe that society gives him permission to be a greater asshole to women, that doesn't make it true.

It damn well does make it true because it will happen. Please. Go and read the many, many threads about catcalling and the experiences of women in the public space, experiences which happen because there are people who think society's perfectly OK with that behaviour.
posted by mippy at 11:38 AM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think what he's getting at there is the same thing that was being pointed to by the leader of a Sikh congregation in Birmingham, when he was quoted as a delegate to the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions:
"My faith tradition tells me that to have a 'tolerant' society is to demean society. If I say that I will tolerate you, I am demeaning you. If I say that I will accept you, I am still demeaning you. Now if I was to say, 'I will respect you,' that would be slightly better. But what if I said, 'I will lay down my life for you!'? You have to try and have that kind of spirit of sacrifice."

—Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh,
Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
We don't generally speak of "tolerating" or "accepting" something unless we think there's something negative about it that needs to be tolerated or accepted. If there's nothing negative, we're more likely to use words like "respect" or "admire" or "value".
posted by Lexica at 11:47 AM on October 24, 2010 [5 favorites]




Blaadclaat.

That is all.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:01 AM on October 25, 2010


gjc, I get the feeling you just don't know what the word 'hegemony' means. Which is fine – it's a weird word, admittedly. It just means "political or social power or control," and it generally has a negative connotation. People use it to refer to the sexist and racist stuff in society that keeps people down. So when you said this:

gjc: “Good lord, please make it stop. The ONLY people perpetuating any hegemony are gender and race studies students trotting out this tripe. ”

... you were essentially saying that the only sexism and racism in society is caused by gender and race studies students.

Can you see how some people might find that statement a little... er... insane? And might react, as klangklangston did, with a bit of sarcastic irony?

Everything else you said is somewhat plausible, but that one sentence really was sort of nuts. I'm trying to imagine how gender and race studies students even cause any racism or sexism in the first place, much less how you could really believe that there isn't any in society besides what they create. But, again, I have a strong feeling that's not what you meant to say.
posted by koeselitz at 12:26 PM on October 25, 2010


I just spent a few days in the woods without computer and I just want to tell you I love you all. Oh wait,that's another thread. Carry on.
posted by mareli at 7:21 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


'Douchebag' is a bit juvenile, and I think a bit tired.

The point really is that among the vast resources of the English language one can find better ways to achieve emphasis than the stale resort to sex or scatological references, you felching twatgobs.
posted by Segundus at 2:58 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


So to maybe avoid some more of these discussions, can we focus on creating an insult that is mostly acceptable to most people.

Is fartknocker too offensive?
posted by schyler523 at 6:12 PM on October 26, 2010


Is fartknocker too offensive?

Yes, breeder, it certainly is.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:17 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I'd never thought of that as a homophobic slur. I'm truly very sorry. :(

I'd always thought of it as a person that habitually smelled of farts, and that fartknocker implied that the reason they smelled bad was because they were "knocking around" or hanging out with farts.

Again, I'm truly sorry. I had no idea.
posted by schyler523 at 6:37 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


No prob! At least you had the decency to ask.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:40 PM on October 26, 2010


What about "fuckpuddle dipshits?"

I like the sound of it.
posted by schyler523 at 8:57 PM on October 26, 2010


Wow, I'd never thought of that as a homophobic slur. I'm truly very sorry. :(

Whoa. Neither did I!

Can't believe I didn't make that connection.
posted by zarq at 8:59 PM on October 26, 2010


Wow, I'd never thought of that as a homophobic slur. I'm truly very sorry.

I'd never heard it as a homophobic slur, either. The only times I have heard it used were on Beavis and Butthead.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:29 PM on October 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fartknocker is a Christian Swear Word!

Well, not really but I found that after Googling around for an etymology which, as you might guess, wasn't readily discernible. There's a lot of mention of Beavis and Butthead, but some claim it was around in the dark ages prior to that revelatory show. I suppose one could convincingly make the claim that it was a slur against anal sex practitioners, but that doesn't make it an exclusively homophobic slur. It's almost a nonsense word.

Anyway, I don't use it at all so I don't really have a stake in it, but it might not be so clear-cut a homophobic slur.

Yes, I said "stake in it".
posted by Burhanistan at 9:42 PM on October 26, 2010


I'm not going to tell anyone they're wrong to be offended by the word "douchebag," but I've honestly never heard it used in a misogynistic way and I've genuinely always felt that the insult of it has nothing to do with women's genitals but instead with the absolute worthlessness and unpleasantness (to women) of douches, and how they were marketed as something essential when they were harmful at best. "Douchebag" usually refers to an unpleasant, worthless person who tries to present themselves as if they're the most awesome thing ever when they're awful. I like the word because it's apt in several ways.

I've never felt it was anywhere near on par with "cunt" -- a word that doesn't offend me, but I can completely understand the reasons why it offends other people -- or even "bitch." I get the impression from a few of the comments that this reasoning might be assumed to be insincere in some way, like people just don't want to admit they shouldn't say douchebag and want to rationalize it away by lying about what it means, but I'm being completely serious. The unpleasant, worthless, misrepresentation-of-being-awesome thing makes way more sense than "douches are gross because they are related to vaginas."

So this is sort of... baffling to me, like asking if someone could please not say "crap." For example, some of the tests offered here are ones that I think douchebag absolutely passes: yes, I have said and heard the word used constantly in mixed company. I would only avoid it around someone like a boss like any other impolite word (like "damn"), not because it's sexist -- but I've had bosses who didn't care either and have heard it used in situations where people are careful about their language.

And yeah, I refer to women as douchebags too, if they're acting like douchebags; it doesn't happen as often, but it's still happened more times than I can count. Then again, I also call women "assholes" and some people seem to think that's an odd usage of the word -- I even recall a MeFi thread a few months back where someone called a female public figure an "asshole" and someone responded that women aren't "assholes." I think most people disagreed? Anyway, there's nothing inherently masculine about the word "asshole" either -- everyone has one, just like everyone is capable of being worthless and unpleasant while trying to package themselves as the opposite. Just because it's more often associated with one gender than another doesn't mean the term must be sexist.

The "scumbag" comparison actually seems more similar than "crap," come to think of it -- in fact, "scumbag" ought to be more offensive than douchebag, since the insult is that someone is like a bag of cum, which assumes semen is gross or shameful or both. The only other perspective could be "worthless" or "impotent" but, unlike douchebag where that definition is more apt, the only way I've ever heard scumbag used is as a synonym for "vile." But no one, when they use the word scumbag, is thinking that men are gross because they produce semen.

So... honestly, I try to be sensitive about language and as I said, I'm not going to tell someone they're wrong to be offended by "douchebag." But you know how we've talked about how if we continue to say a word that bothers some people, we ought to just admit we're disregarding their feelings? Well, I don't say "retard" or "cunt" or "fag" or "gay" in a derogatory way, because for various reasons it's reasonable to me that those words might upset someone. When it comes to douchebag, I just feel like the outrage comes from a misunderstanding of what part people are usually saying is insulting about it. I get why people might assume the vaginas=gross connection, but unlike how a nonhomophobic person is still unintentionally causing harm by calling something "gay" because it ultimately implies that being gay is a bad thing, calling someone a douchebag doesn't, to me, inherently have the core of its insult rooted in sexism in any way. It would be a lot easier and probably even more insulting to call someone a tampon, or a maxi pad, but I've never heard of such a thing.

What I'm saying is I'll keep using the word and just admit I'm disregarding the feelings of anyone who might be offended by it. :-/ It's not some objective, clearcut thing, but unlike some of the other words I listed, it just doesn't seem as persuasive, or widespread, or weighty an objection. I don't like offending people, but lots of words can potentially be offensive and everyone has to make a judgment call and draw the line somewhere. For me, the argument for something like scumbag is more convincing, and I'm not going to stop saying scumbag or most other words that have more persuasive grounds for being offensive, so douchebag stays in my vocabulary just for sanity's sake.
posted by Nattie at 12:52 AM on October 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Recently I was at the grocery store and a normal-looking lady in front of me was buying 4 jumbo-sized jars of Helman's mayo and 12 Massengill douches. I was disturbed by this, but am relieved that I have found a place to relate this anecdote. It's not often the topic of douches comes up.

Carry on.
posted by staggering termagant at 11:54 AM on October 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


> I was disturbed by this

I will not toss off a salad dressing recipe here.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:59 AM on October 27, 2010


Was it Christine O'Donnell? Because this might explain much.
posted by taz at 12:04 PM on October 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I mean, if you're insulting a man in a way that does not directly compare him to a stereotypical female (e.g. "girly-man" and all its variants; interestingly, such dude-like-lady insults are the exclusive domain of the douchebag), then it's a stretch to claim that said insult is misogynistic — particularly when said insult so often refers, in a derogatory manner, to the man's own sexist attitudes.

Douchebag: See Fig. 1

I would also like to put forward the hypotheses that:
1. References to the usually-covered anatomy of either gender do not work on the principle of disgust (frankly, if you're an adult grossed out by the mere mention of—or, indeed, allusion to—normal human anatomy...well, bless your heart), but rather via the simple formula of forbidden=provocative.
2. ↑forbidden=↑provocative. To expressly forbid a certain word is to greatly increase its power to provoke. A troll's wet dream.
3. forbidden=exciting. The allure of the taboo. Troublesome to those who lack self-control.
4. If something is strictly forbidden within an isolated community but never made clear officially, while outside the community such rules are nebulous and often overlooked or ignored, newcomers to the community are very likely to be castigated by the community for unwitting transgressions.
(Which is all just to say that polite discouragement made explicit from the get-go is vastly preferable over a hard-line no-no rule that is only made clear by a torches-and-pitchforks welcome wagon surprise party pile-on.)

P.S., on a much more general note: Would it be possible for the Mod Squad to politely discourage non-moderators from moderating in threads? It seems to be happening a lot lately, and, well, the amateurs aren't very good at it. Use your flags, people!
posted by Sys Rq at 10:23 AM on October 28, 2010


Would it be possible for the Mod Squad to politely discourage non-moderators from moderating in threads? It seems to be happening a lot lately, and, well, the amateurs aren't very good at it.

If we see people acting like they are mods, we'll tell them to knock it off. If people are trying to help people understand the rules and norms of the site without being jerks about it, that's often doing us a favor. Without knowing specifically what you're referring to [in MeTa? In MeFi?] I'm not sure what we can say. That part of the community policing thing is that everyone gets to put on their Junior Deputy Badge a little bit, with the understanding that all they can do is help out and if they're getting in the way or being a little too "this site is like THIS" we'll gently step in and explain the difference between the site in our ideal heart of hearts and the site as we actually get to experience it on a daily basis. There is nothing wrong with a little hope, but the frustration borne of it often makes for lousy discussions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:42 AM on October 28, 2010


"If we see people acting like they are mods, we'll tell them to knock it off."

Yeah! Any more of that, and I'll ban 'em!
posted by klangklangston at 10:45 AM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Okay. I'll just close this up, then.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:12 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey, I don't want to have to give you guys a time out. Again.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:26 PM on October 28, 2010


This thread was deleted for the following reason: fuck-knuckle
posted by Mister_A at 1:49 PM on October 28, 2010


klangklangston, Sys Rq, P.o.B., Mister_A: knock it off.
posted by flabdablet at 4:26 PM on October 28, 2010


Native US speaker here. I think that douchbag is not in the same neighborhood as terms for the vagina. The unpleasantness of the term today seems to be about something that no one wants. An object used by someone else to clean their private parts, or a procedure that seems unpleasant. Enema nozzle or snot rag are closer in meaning and connotation than any term for female genitalia
posted by zippy at 5:51 PM on October 28, 2010


Tonight, we were on a Friday the 13th marathon kick, and I'd like to report that in episode 5 (The New Beginning, released 1985) one of the characters refers to another -- right before he dies -- as a douchebag. So whatever is going on here, it's not new. That shit is at least 25 years old.
posted by cj_ at 4:37 AM on November 2, 2010


The OED's first reference to "douche bag" meaning "U.S. slang, a general term of disparagement, esp. for an unattractive or boring person; cf. BAG n. 17" is back in 1967, and that is from another dictionary, so it was probably in use before then. So it's at least 43 years old, actually. Here's the quotation:
1967 Amer. Speech XLII. 228 Douche bag, n. phr., an unattractive co-ed. By extension, any individual whom the speaker desires to deprecate.
So according to this, it originally was a term for disparagement of women. Strange that it now seems usually applied to men (although I once saw one of my female friends called a "douche" by some asshole we didn't know).
posted by grouse at 7:19 AM on November 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


George Takei says it's ok to call people douchebags.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:26 PM on November 3, 2010


George Takei gets, in this as in all things, special dispensation.

In related news, Rosanne Cash called Boehner an asshat.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:39 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


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