Douchebag Decree: Bring out your douche!


This week, like most weeks, brought with it a parade of douche. However, I’ve been scouring the world wide web–OK, googling stuff for the past few hours–and no one d-bag is standing out head and shoulders above the rest. It’s been a week of tiny douches (hold me closer, tiny douchebag!) and that calls for a douchebag roundup. Sarah Palin, Bret Easton Ellis, Michael Pollan, MIA/Lynn Hirschberg, and the rest of this week’s douchebags, come on down! Play along at home by adding your suggestions in the comments section!

The Roundup:

• Sarah Palin is a “real” feminist.

This is what a disingenuous feminist looks like.

So Sarah Palin has “come out” and identified as a feminist. Except that she is still decidedly against women’s rights, and just calling yourself a feminist in public does not a feminist make. Further reading: “5 Ways of Looking at ‘Sarah Palin Feminism’ ” by Kate Harding

• Bret Easton Ellis thinks “women can’t direct.”

Step away from that camera, little lady!

Last week in an interview with Movieline, Ellis backed up his former statement that “women can’t direct” by saying that, “There’s something about the medium of film itself that I think requires the male gaze.” Oh! So it isn’t that the male gaze is consistently privileged over the female gaze, it’s that the medium itself *requires* the male gaze simply to exist. Yeah, that makes sense. Further reading: “Girls on Film: Bret Easton Ellis, Biology, and Breasts” by Monika Bartyzel

• Michael Pollan blames feminism for wrecking the family meal.

This omnivore’s dilemma? How to get women back into the kitchen.

In his latest piece for the New York Review of Books, Pollan agrees with author Janet A. Flammang that at second-wave feminism’s urging, women have abandoned “foodwork” and thus “wrecked one of the nurseries of democracy: the family meal.” Never mind that women might, um, *need* to work, or that men and children are also part of that nursery of democracy he mentions, so maybe they should share in the blame for its demise. Further reading: “The foodie indictment of feminism” by Anna Clark

• Lynn Hirschberg writes insulting piece on M.I.A., M.I.A. retaliates by tweeting Hirschberg’s cell number.

Maybe we’re both sort of acting like douchebags?

Lynn Hirschberg’s latest, a profile on M.I.A. in the New York Times, is chocked full o’ douche. She consistently attempts to undermine M.I.A.’s politics, and she paints her as frivolous and flighty (read the quote about truffle-flavored French fries for evidence of this). However, as a retaliation move, M.I.A. posted Hirschberg’s cell number on Twitter to her more than 100,000 followers, which is also kind of douche-y. Further reading: “M.I.A. Takes on Google, Gaga, and Lynn Hirschberg” by Latoya Peterson

Add your own Douchebag Decrees to the roundup in the comments section!

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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14 Comments Have Been Posted

I don't want to wind up in next week's douche bag decree but...

I don't see how Pollan could be described as a douche because of this article. As the American economy changed after WWII and more women entered the workforce (although working class women have pretty much always worked outside the home but I digress), our eating and food consuming habits changed. That is inarguable. Pointing out a correlation is not assigning blame. Nor is it assigning blame to point out the opinions of others (like neo-cons who have embraced the food movement because it can encompass family values). My reading of the article is that as a society we are in the process of realigning our relationship to food and foodways, which yes, have traditionally been the realm of women but are being rediscovered as a "communitarian" glue within social groups. Have I missed something?


But it's not just "correlation." Someone like Pollan, who at this point has a large and attentive audience, quoting an anti-feminist <i>and then not challenging her</i> is the problem.

I think a lot of folks who trust Pollan's description of Flammang as a "scholar of the women's movement" could easily extract from Pollan's statement that women shouldn't be in the work force, they should be lovingly preparing local, organic meals for their brood, which presumably includes a male partner out earning the bacon--where's the blame of democracy-wrecking for dear old dad? Anna Clark's article, which is linked to, is a good read.

beating the dead horse

The not-challenging is a problem, definitely. And the implications of not challenging Flammang are as well. I wasn't familiar with Flammang before this so thanks for making that connection clearer for me.

Having reread the article, and Clark's, I understand where the anger comes from (no, really I get it) but Pollan was providing a review of a book and his final conclusion of said book was that it is worth discussing. (Which we are so...maybe he was on to something?). He didn't disagree with Flammang but he didn't really agree with her either which is not really dangerous in itself (although he does say her opinions have "historical perspective and intellectual rigor," which legitimizes her view and that could be dangerous.) On the whole though, it still seems just kind of thoughtless and a little lame. Disappointing? Yes. Douchey. Hmmm. Still not convinced.

The views expressed in the article that reflect the kind of Rousseauian utopian malarky about Republican motherhood that make our heads explode are actually Flammang's. She's the douche. Or maybe I'm just being defensive because I like what Pollan has to say most of the time and I don't think he's quite deserving of the douche-bag moniker or of all the ire he's received on other discussion boards (jezebel, for example). It cheapens the power of the douche bag decree to give it to someone who is well meaning but maybe I little clumsy in their reasoning.

There I'm done! This was far too long. :)

Next week's d-bag

Hi weakyknee,

I think the difference between what you have to say here (which makes sense), and what Pollan is saying/agreeing with, is that you are simply describing a societal shift whereas Pollan is assigning blame for that shift and its fallout. It's one thing to say that people don't eat at home enough as a family, and it's quite another to frame that as the fault of women who've "chosen" to leave the kitchen (which as we both know is a vast oversimplification at best).

This could come down to interpretation, but I tend to agree with Clark, who read the piece as an indictment of feminism (informed in part by other similar finger point-y statements Pollan has made in the past in regards to feminism). That being said, he is sharing this week's Decree with a few others, so it could have been a lot worse.

Thanks for your comment!

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor


Sorry, but I think MIA deserves a gigantic douchebag award of her own, for propagating lies and misinformation, encouraging separatism and supporting a terrorist movement that employed child soldiers and female suicide bombers. Her beats maybe tight but her "politics" are nonsense.

Recent sighting of douchebaggery on Twitter

Fado Chicago here posted a list of rules for wives/girlfriends/female partners to follow during the World Cup. This "funny" letter is chock full of language that firmly ensconces women in the roles that some find "hilarious:" cum dumpster, nuisance, and man accessory only. Why, that's hilarious! And women can't possibly themselves be sports fans for that matter! Ha, ha ha!

A late suggestion and one

A late suggestion and one not in the oh-so-formidable list of nominees but I just read about a Navy doctor who sexually assaulted twenty-nine of his patients. The Navy's response? To cover it up for as long as possible and when they couldn't do that anymore they sentenced him to seven days in jail. For serious. Link:

Oh, and shouldn't Sarah Palin go into the Douchebag Hall of Fame?


While I am not familiar with Flammang or Pollan's past discussion of feminism, I am familiar with Pollan's food books and I take a issue with the interpretation of this piece as pure douchebaggery. His issue here doesn't seem to be that women aren't in the kitchen anymore. It has more to do with the loss of social value that food preparation has gone through in the US over the past 50 years.

Second wave extraordinaire Betty Friedan told women to serve their families pre-packaged meals and get out of the kitchen, so it isn't off base to point to this cultural shift when discussing the family dinner in America. Cooking meals, along with housework, has been seen by second wavers as a lesser task that keeps middle class women from reaching their potentials in the working world. Granted, before The Feminine Mystique, these same tasks were vastly over-glorified by American society as the height of women's contribution to the world.

Truly, both extremes are harmful. Knowing how to create healthy meals and sharing them with family is a fantastic skill, and valuing this knowledge is not conservative or anti-feminist per se. However, I think we can all agree this skill shouldn't be gendered, and that it shouldn't be considered the sum total of any one family member's contributions.


Hi Laura,

Yes, my point here certainly wasn't to denigrate Pollan's ideas when it comes to food (although they could be considered classist, but that's for a different post). Rather, what irked me about his statements was that he framed family meals and eating habits as being primarily a woman's responsibility, and the current state of them as being primarily feminism's fault.

I think you are exactly right that healthy meals are important, and food is definitely a feminist issue. The key difference between what you're saying and what I understood Pollan to be saying, though, is that you don't feel this should be a gendered issue (I don't either!).

Thanks for your comments!

Kelsey Wallace, Web Editor


Hooooolllyyyy Crappppp.

Yeah. Someone needs to get on this.

I should not have clicked on that link

and given that asshat more blog traffic than he deserves.


My mouth was literally agape after I finished reading that post. There is no word in the English language capable of defining the amount of hatred I have for that imbecile.


Hold on: "when women want something, like money or power, they take it by force." Really? Give me an example. Just one. And what does "by force" mean here? Working hard? Governmental or corporate policies that attempt to counter centuries of women's exclusion? Essentially what this douchebag is saying is that rape is payback for affirmative action. Which, in some ways, we already knew: as women's social power rises, so does violence against us. Out of the mouths of d-bags...

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