As an observer of masculinity and society at large, I take notice of different words and terms that come in and out of fashion and vary in popularity. “Douche bag” is one of these terms that I hear often and I’m not sure that I’m clear on it, so I asked some people I know to give me other names for douche bag so that I can understand it.
“Jerk, boor, fool, wanker, tool, motherf#@%er, dick, *sshole, *sswipe, and Jack*ss”, they told me. Esquire calls “douche bag” “a troublemaker without brains, a narcissist without charm, a breeder of ill will and contempt…”. Okay, I think I’ve got it.
But what I don’t understand is how an inanimate object, an object used to administer a vaginal (or sometimes a nasal) wash, came to be a way to describe and insult a fellow such as this. I guess I’m of the literal sort and I find the term “douche bag” a rather bizarre insult for anyone, but especially men who have nothing to do with vaginal rinses.
Do people who use the term “douche bag” actually know what they’re saying?
If you’re French, “douche” means shower.
Dictionary.com explains a douche as “a jet or current of water, sometimes with a dissolved medicating or cleansing agent, applied to a body part, organ, or cavity, for medicinal or hygienic purposes.”
The Urban Dictionary says that a douche is “a word to describe a person who is a waste of oxygen; an idiot; an individual who is very brainless in some way or another, thus comparing them to the cleansing product for vaginas.” Thus comparing them to the vaginal cleansing product? I don’t see how a person would make a connection between being brainless and the cleaning of a woman’s box. I guess if you’re brainless/stupid, you’ve could have the IQ of any old inanimate object, but why a douche bag? Why not an enema bag or Neti pot; an acorn, a shoe, or a pad of paper for that matter?
I’m curious about how this term began as something benign and turned into a face-slapping insult. Linguists may consider “douche bag” as a pejorative, a semantic change whereby a word acquires unfavourable connotations. Such as the case for “douche bag”. I found a good site explaining “douche bag is an olde tyme insult, much like “trollop” or “dingbat.” The Oxford English Dictionary says the word was first printed in the 1930s and was popularized in the 1950s as a term of contempt towards women.
Another blog went a little deeper and found a stronger proof of the term used in a pejorative sense and perhaps locating the first usage of “douche bag“, back in 1951 in the novel, From Here to Eternity:
“The trouble with you, Pete,” the voice that did not seem to come with him but from that cigarette said savagely, “is that you can’t see further than that douchebag nose of yours.”
I’m trying to imagine what the voice meant by describing a “douchebag” nose.
The San Francisco Weekly that says the use of “douche bag” goes back to 1967, “when “douchebag” was a popular epithet for “an unattractive coed”; it has since morphed into a general term of disparagement, esp. for an unattractive or boring person.”
No matter how much reading I do, I still can’t seem to find the magic moment when “douche bag” became a popular term in the 2000s for pompous jerks, so I’m going to let it remain a mystery, unless anyone out there thinks they have an answer – if so, please share it with us in the comments.
Now, onto other things.
Vagina, a self-cleaning organ
Men, if you haven’t realized it by now, the vagina is an amazing organ. Among other things, the vagina is like a self-cleaning oven: it cleans itself and flushes away bacteria and residual menstrual blood with its own fluid and it doesn’t need any outside help.
Douching rinses away the natural vaginal discharge and is not recommended. The medical world agrees that douching is not a good idea because it messes with a woman’s natural ph balance, it can introduce bacteria into the cavity, and can put women at risk for infection. If a pregnant woman douches, she increases the risk of preterm delivery, according to Medscape.com.
I suppose douches exist because the makers of douches like Massengill and Summer’s Eve decided that they could make money from yet another product that we don’t really need. Or the makers of commercial douches decided that a woman’s natural scent was offensive and decided to turn society against it. If you don‘t have a squeaky-clean vag, you‘re just not fresh and you‘re not socially acceptable!
I have never used a douche; I don’t like the idea. I’m not comfortable with shooting acidic vinegar and water into a body cavity, nor am I into spraying an orifice with water mixed with artificial scent – ooh, the sting! Research shows that some douches contain octoxynol-9 – a spermicide, potential breast carcinogen, and according to the Natural Skincare Authority, a substance that can “instigate immune system response that can include itching, burning, scaling, hives, and blistering of the skin.” A woman can just as easily take a shower and let her natural powers clean her insides – a nicer alternative, non?
If there is a foul smell about the vagina, it could be an indication that there is an infection and douching to “freshen up”/cover the smell may make things a lot worse. A strong scent from down below may indicate that a woman’s flora is compromised and she might want to visit her doctor. Nature is good at giving us cues.
Douche bag or bottle?
Hundreds of years ago, a douche would be administered through a carved bone syringe-looking thing with a flat end with holes in it to plunge the liquid through, and during the early 20th century, a rubber bag was used to hold the douching fluid. Nowadays, a douche is not administed through a bag at all, it’s used with a squeezable plastic bottle, but for some reason, “douche bottle” never caught on.