Behind the Pittsburgh Guest Blogging Event: NSFW Edition

While prepping for the Pittsburgh Guest Blogging Event, John from Ya Jagoff and I had a colorful conversation that he described as:

I am laughing at this email. It has more nasty words in one email than any email I’ve ever sent or received…sounds like it came from George Carlin. Lol!!!

It all began in his initial guest blog post – he used the term ‘douche canoe’ to illustrate his point of creative slurs. I object, not inherently because of the perceived sexism but because it contradicted his basic argument about insulting whole groups of people.

The problem for me is that calling someone a douche (or any variant) is tied to a group of people – women. So whether it is sexist or not, it is a direct violation of your own standard in this piece – insulting a group of people to get a good zinger in with a specific person. I personally find it a distasteful word, but not inherently offensive. I sort of have the same reaction you described – we can’t get more creative than insulting men by comparing them to women’s genitalia (the slur of douche is the association with the vagina.) 

John responded:

Ok.. gotcha.  Maybe I’m a little naïve… I actually didn’t see douche canoe as a slur against woman.

I thought about it some more.

Douche is one of those terms that everyone argues about – is using it against sexist men okay? is it harmless since most people don’t even know what douche is? is it necessary to use gendered slurs? What about terms like dickwad or other penis related insults? 

And while my response to the word is not really a wholesale condemnation, I would definitely point out that the word douche is definitely connected to women. Perhaps not as much as faggot is connected to gay men, but its in the ballpark. 
I looked up douche canoe and the synonyms are twat and cunt both of which are obviously gender slurs, but also prick and dickhead which I tend to use myself on occasion. So my doublestandard is rearing its ugly head. maybe I’m overthinking this. 
That’s when John compared me to George Carlin.

John decided to go back to a reference to “Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins” from the movie ELF which is a long cry from douche canoe. That was probably the wise (and funny) choice. But I couldn’t let the George Carlin reference go without an airing. I also think the larger issue is worth exploring.

My objection to John’s example was that it contradicted his point about tying slurs to whole groups of people. He didn’t intent that and probably because of the phenom outlined in this article from The Guardian which has reassigned the term douche to describe a certain type of man.

Upon further thought, I wonder about our prediliction for gendering insults. Is it inherently sexist? Is there wiggle room? Also, I can’t help but notice that its always about genitalia or reproductive organs which sort of reflects the assumption that the rest of our bodies are the same. Obviously, that’s untrue.

But I’m not sure if I think douche is a sexist slur. Twat? Definitely. There’s a difference between the body of a human being (twat) and an external item coming in contact with that body (douching.) Is that a valid line? I don’t know. I do know that I find the term ‘douche bag’ nasty in general, probably because of the gendered expectations about women’s bodies being dirty and needing to be cleaned for the men in our lives. And in our twats.

What’s next?

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