Alyssa Royse wonders if identifying Douchebags as a species of men might let most men off the hook.
From as early an age as when “stupid pee face” would have seemed like a reasonable thing to say, I have been taught not to call people names. It is so ingrained in my being that as an adult, the only name I will call someone in derision is “poo-head,” which I say precisely because it is so juvenile and ridiculous. I have absolutely taught my children that we do not all other people names. We just don’t. It isn’t kind. It isn’t useful. We don’t do it.
Which is why I am going to eat a lot of crow as I now wonder out loud – or in print – if there might actually be a good reason to call a guy a “douchebag.” Or a “tool.” Or….
Hang with me here….
I am a lover of men, in every way that one can love men. Though I am not a man, I bristle when I hear things like “men just want to use women for sex.” Or “men only love a woman while they’re young.” Or, “men like women to be weaker than them.” Or, really, any sentence that starts with “men are…..”
For that matter, any idea that begins with the assumption that “men are,” by virtue of being men, all the same in any real way.
Here’s what men are: wildly diverse. Here’s what else men are: human. So, I guess men are wildly diverse humans. Beyond that, you really can’t classify all men by any one set of characteristics or behaviors.
Unless you adopt a biological classification system, of sorts.
When you look at it that way, “douchebag” might actually serve a purpose. I mean, you can kind of identify the physical traits and behavioral patterns of a guy that might commonly be referred to as a “douchebag” by a generally agreed upon set of standards. Right? Let’s just say “The Situation,” and leave it there for a moment.
What if “douche,” and “douchebag” and “douchenozzle” and all douche-derivatives were classified as a subset of men? Then, we could attribute certain obvious social sins to “douchebags” and avoid blaming all men for the problem that only a subset of men are guilty of.
This is the first good use of a douche.
Backing up a bit, let me justify my love of “douche” as a descriptor. Douches, the kind you buy in a pharmacy, are bad for women. They are not something that women need, at all. More often than not, they are harmful to women, and used out of insecurity rather than an understanding of who a woman is, how her body works, what she needs and acceptance of herself. All the same can be said of the men who are commonly called “douches.” Calling a man a douche is not an insult to women, it is a direct comparison to a product that has a negative impact on women’s lives, that is overly packaged and based on a set of ridiculous societal ideals that have nothing to do with reality.
So, douchebags, the kind that walk amongst us, are they indicative of all men? Or are they not a subset, with unique characteristics that we can generally identify with simple observation?
Are all men douchebags?
Nope. I think it’s a good deal more accurate to say “douchebags will” than “men will…” And it lets most men off the hook, so they’re not taking the fall for a subset of men.
Now, are all douchebags bad? Not necessarily. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
What about a “dudebro,” often called “bro” for short? Is that a subset of douche? Can we make a workable taxonomy out of this?
- Family: Human
- Genus: Male
- Species: Douchebag / Douchenozzle / Douche. Dudebro / Bro
Can we further narrow it down by specific behaviors? You know how crocodiles and alligators pretty much look the same to the untrained eye? So too do all douches, but they’re not all the same. Some are predatory and bad news. Some, really, are just following along to blend in and will eventually turn into something else, when they grow up.
Wait, that makes them like a caterpillar.
This is hard. But I still think we’re on to something. Let’s call this a brainstorming session.
Beyond the flippancy and humor of these suggestions there is a very serious underlying idea: We need to judge people based on their own behavior, not their gender. It is as wildly unfair to say “men are controlling” as it is to say “women are weak.” Either statement is suggesting that by virtue of one’s sex or gender, or both, their personality has been decided. Further, that they are somehow not responsible for their own behavior, because, you know, gender.
Even worse, they are responsible for the behavior of other people. Their whole gender, for that matter.
Nonsense. Regardless of genitals, chromosomes or identity, we all choose how we behave towards others, and we should be acknowledged as such. For better or worse.
I know that when I hear men say “women just want a rich guy who will buy them things,” I bristle. I am not like that, I am the opposite of that. I do not want people to assume that because of my sex or gender I am like that. It’s not too much to ask that we look at how people behave, and judge them thusly.
And, since I know it’s going to come up, yes, you could also classify women in the same ways. Some women are gold-diggers, you bet. So are some men, for that matter. Call it what it is.
It’s not the gender that’s bad. It’s the behavior. And sometimes the behavior is identifiable with a cluster of co-contaminant behaviors, which makes it easy to spot. Like the leaves on poison ivy, or the markings on a Black Widow.
If this gender war is ever going to end – and I hope, on all that I hold dear, it does – part of the process is going to be agreeing that we do not hold an entire gender responsible for the behavior of some people. It is going to involve all of us – regardless of our gender – calling out bad behavior when we see it, and blaming the people who do it, not their gender.
We can give the behavior a name. We can even characterize the people who routinely do it, I think. I’m okay with saying Gold Diggers suck. They do. I’m okay with saying douchebag dudes suck. They do. But I’m not okay with holding anyone else responsible for the behavior of an individual.
If we’re going to call people names, and classify them, it should absolutely be about their behavior.
After all, what makes a man “good” isn’t anything other than how he behaves. The rest is just wrapping.
So what’s off-limits? Most things, actually. I’m still telling my kids that it’s not okay to call people names. Unless doing so communicates a useful and accurate bit of information that will aid in making a decision about your behavior.
As in: Don’t date douchebags.
But it is still never okay to make fun of people’s race, face, gender, body, religion or anything over which they have no control. It is never okay to call someone “gay,” as an insult suggesting they are weak or weird, which is obviously insulting gay people. Likewise, calling someone a “pussy” is wildly off-limits for reasons that I hope, as one with a pussy, is abundantly clear to all but the douchebags amongst us.
I’m probably going to stick with “poo-head.” Because it’s not a real thing, and it seems fairly obvious that most of us would not want anything to do with someone who’s head is made of poo.