An Official Judgment Has Been RenderedI recently had an e-mail conversation with the esteemed Esther Potter, writer of the tremendously funny blog La La How The Life Goes On. I've met Esther in person, and she looks nothing like Lucille Ball, but some of her posts have so much energy, and so much wackiness, that they remind me of an I Love Lucy episode--one of the classics, like working in the candy factory or hanging wallpaper.
One of the things I love about Esther's writing is that she'll wade into anything. And she did so last week, when she mentioned that Bill Maher had called a certain dim-witted political figure a “twat.” She said, in no uncertain terms, that both twat and “the c word” (my diplomatic nomenclature—she just let it rip)--are no longer acceptable.
I agree. There's funny and there's misogynist, and unfortunately, twat and “the c word” and “the p word” all fall into the latter category.
There is, however, one great insult remaining. I'm speaking, of course, of “douchebag.”
Let me get my prejudice on the table: as a phrase, I'm pro-douchebag. In recent years, it's become my favorite insult, my go-to phrase when I need to drop an imaginary sack of hammers on someone. My reasoning? It's not a reference to genitalia. No, it's even worse than that, because it's a reference to something used to clean genitalia.
I couldn't care less that it's used to clean female genitalia. That's not why it's an insult. Gender specificity in regards to genitalia cleaning is entirely unnecessary. It's enough that any genitalia is being cleaned, regardless of sex. If there was some equivalently disgusting device used to clean male genitalia, I would be happy to use the word (and dear god, if some device does exist, thank you in advance for not e-mailing me with pictures).
I trust Esther as a feminist with a sense of humor, and a reasonable person, so after reading her considered philosophical position on “twat”, I e-mailed to ask her about “douchebag”. Even though it's become quite a favorite, I was willing to give it up if Esther deemed it unacceptable. This was her reply:
I deem any douche-related word to be fair.
Douchebag: it remains standing.