Hear ye, hear ye: The Douchebag Decree Decree.


People, we here at Bitch HQ have a lot on our plates, and you know how we don’t want to spend our time? Continuing to argue with commenters about our use of the term “douchebag.” We get it: Some of you don’t like the term, and would prefer that we don’t use it. But moderating weekly arguments in the comments section of Douchebag Decree posts has, frankly, grown pretty tiresome. So here’s the deal: We’re going to continue using the term, and those of you who aren’t happy about it are going to have to either use the comments section of Douchebag Decree posts to comment on, you know, the actual posts, or else go to another site where you can rail against the term.

We have repeatedly explained (in this space, on iTunes, on Facebook, etc.) why we use “douche,”“douchebag,” “douchebaggery,” and many related variations. But, just for good measure, we’ll do it again right now. The products involved in douching have historically functioned to scare women into believing that their all-natural ladyparts are dirty, smelly, unpleasant, and unfresh. These same products have actually rendered many a woman’s perfectly wonderful ladyparts unhealthy, painful, and infected by their very use. (Check out some vintage ads that touted Lysol as the cure for lonely, dateless, stanky ladies if you’d like some visual proof of the ways women have been shamed into using these unncessary products.)

Douches and douchebags are a pointless, irritating, unfortunate, and generally toxic enemy of women throughout history. A Tool of the Patriarchy. A menace to women’s autonomy and well-being. Something that should not come into contact with a smart, self-respecting woman’s body. Tell us again why we shouldn’t use the term to refer to people who share those same characteristics?

Yes, we understand that not everyone is in the know, and that plenty of people think that calling someone a “douchebag” is denigrating the female simply because of the association. Those same people probably don’t understand why a feminist media organization would call itself Bitch. We happen to like both terms, and see the value in using them in the service of feminist discourse. You don’t? Well, let’s agree to disagree.

But what that means is that you don’t get to hijack the comments sections of blog posts to tell us that we suck or are mean or haven’t thought our position through. That’s unfair to the many fine writers who work hard on their Douchebag Decree posts only to have to sift through dozens of comments that have nothing to do with the content of those posts.

And what that also means is that you don’t need to attack us for using the term. Just because you don’t agree with our stance on the phrase doesn’t mean it’s the wrong stance, or that we haven’t considered the pros and cons of it. We love and value our readers and their opinions, but having the same back-and-forth every week is no longer useful and, from a logistical perspective, is taking valuable time away from our bloggers and website staff—time that they could be using to work on optimizing the site, recruiting new guest bloggers, producing more audio segments, and calling more people out for acting like douchebags.

This is not a democracy, it’s a cheerocracy. And “douchebag” stays.

by Andi Zeisler
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Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. You can find her on Twitter.

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22 Comments Have Been Posted



Yes, yes, yes!!!! Douchebag

Yes, yes, yes!!!!

Douchebag as an adjective is not anti-feminist. Douches are implements of White Patriarchy that fuck up my p.h. balance and piss off my cunt and cunt-loving sensibilities.

Thank you for this.

Thank you!

I am keeping this forever because I get tired of explaining my use of this word all the damn time. Next time I will just send people the link to this post. Hopefully they will walk away not only understanding my position better but also as fans of your publication. I like multi-tasking.

For real. Also, I loved you

For real. Also, I loved you before, but I love you, Bitch, even more for quoting Bring It On. <3

I think it's safe to say...

... John C. Mayer would have been this week's recipient. Thankfully it was covered very well elsewhere:

<a href="http://www.racialicious.com/2010/02/11/when-racefail-meets-playboy-the-j... RACEFAIL MEETS PLAYBOY: THE JOHN MAYER INTERVIEW</a>

<a href="http://www.theroot.com/buzz/john-mayer-makes-fewer-black-friends-after-p... Mayer Makes Fewer Black Friends After Playboy Interview</a>

<a href="http://thisrecording.com/today/2010/2/11/in-which-john-mayer-is-a-douche... Which John Mayer Is A Douchebag For Possibly The Last Time</a>

<a href="http://jezebel.com/5469484/its-impossible-to-have-a-benetton-heart-and-a... Impossible To Have "A Benetton Heart" And A "White Supremacist Dick"</a>


I always roll my eyes reading all the comments that begin with, "Guess what? That's a hygiene product!" by people who clearly did not look into your many explanations at all. This past week's set was especially heinous and needlessly insulting. Hopefully this post marks the end of all that.

Thank Goodness

YESSSSSS! Way to go, Bitch! I got so sick of people whining about the finer points of douchebag, rather than actually respecting the people who wrote the articles. Be informed and leave relevant comments!

After reading this, I love

After reading this, I love Bitch even more.

It's a Long Standing Enjoyable Bitch Tradition

Pointing out douchebaggery is a long standing tradition at Bitch Magazine and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading those posts. Some more blunt name for it (such as Ye Old Asshole Decree) could be used instead, but the current title works just fine and is probably less offensive to some people. I'm sure almost everyone knows that the title is a figure of speech. The posts are almost always entertaining. If only non-controversial posts were published the press would not be very free.


if the word DOUCHEBAG offends you, then you are a DOUCHEBAG.
Love this post!!

Play the Home Game

A friend and I regularly play a game we call 'Douche'.

Here's how to play: say to other player(s), "I have a ruling on X--Douche!"

X could be John Mayer, John Edwards, anyone we believe to be worthy of the title.

It's fun! And we rarely disagree.

And speaking of John Mayer, maybe he could be given an All Star award, and his jersey retired. I mean, what else left for him to accomplish, really?

All I really can say is LOL.

All I really can say is LOL.

You guys are pretty much terrible at this.

Agreed. Nice post. Also-

Agreed. Nice post.

Also- side note. I was in class at our local community college last night when the professor suddenly asks, "What's with people calling other people douchebags? Why would you call someone a feminine hygiene product as an insult?"

My hand shot up in the air so fast! I thought immediately of the douchebag degree of this fine publication. :)

I gave him (and the class) the whole spiel about how douche is damaging and totally unnecessary, which is exactly the definition of someone who is a douchebag, or commits an act of douchebaggery.

Douchebag and Bitch

Thank you for your explanation of the use of the term Douchebag. I will agree to disagree because I stll despise the term as well as the use of Bitch. No, that does not make me a douchebag, just a second wave feminist! I love Bitch and certainly do not require that I always see eye to eye with all of your opinions. Keep up the good work.

Did You...

really just say "cheerocracy" lolololol? it burns a little inside now, but you've definitely got me giggling on that one!

and you've got a +1 on the use of "douche" and all it's variations here! there's one major thing that douches and the people you post about have in common: THEY'RE BAD FOR WOMEN. under that thought, i as well feel that there is no reason that "douchebag" is an unacceptable term.

Seriously! One of my friends


One of my friends once questioned me on it and my explanation satisfied her:

"Douche and douchebag really are the perfect insult. Douching is at best pointless and at worst harmful and I think that perfectly describes the people that we call douchebags - they're pointless idiots at best and at their worst they cause all kinds of harm.

yes! perfect response. i will

yes! perfect response. i will totally steal this.

Huge douches

The UC Regents. I don't know if you've been keeping up with the student protests occurring on all University of California campuses, but the situation here is getting pretty bad. The fat cats on top keep getting richer, the poor students (many of whom are students of color) and low-paid workers keep getting screwed over. There's talk of cutting 200 service jobs on campus to save money, while the President of the UC gets over $500,000 a year. And to do what? To raise student fees for the sake of bond collateral. They hiked our fees 32%, and now Latino enrollment is already down by 12%. People are taking on more student loans to pay for school, and all the money we are siphoning into the system, hoping to improve our educations, is being used by the UC Regents to improve their bond standing for construction projects (at my own campus, this includes rebuilding a stadium that's -HELLO- on a fault line). WTF.

Our university is becoming less accessible due to a crisis of priorities on the part of the people who are supposed to be helping us, and it sucks. Big time. So big, I think they deserve a douchebag decree.

I'm sorry, but I don't

I'm sorry, but I don't actually care about the term "douchebag" though I don't personally use it. I do, however, care about taking the parental and discourse ending tone of this piece. Because "assimilate, shut up, or leave" is totally feminist positive.

not it!

It's not about assimilating, it's about agreeing to disagree. We're not asking that those who don't like the terms "douchebag" or "bitch" LEAVE, or even change their minds (see Mary's thoughtful comment above), we're asking that they acknowledge that this publication uses both terms, and is not about to stop. We've heard the criticism and we appreciate it, but hearing it again won't change our minds.

Usage of terms and journalistic freedom

While I can certainly appreciate the extreme tediousness of repetition on any subject, several thoughts came to me as I scrolled through this latest "conversation": 1) Bitch Media's decision to continue using terminology that, by your own admission, creates a time-suck and deflects from the actual issues' commentary is a curiously stubborn entrenchment that sounds a lot like a child's yelling" "You're not the boss of me!" while knowing, in his/her heart, that the fight has been lost. It really is time to put away the toys and come in for lunch, even if it's only the babysitter telling you to do it. 2) The "claiming" of derogatory terminology by the people it despises, in order to "own" it, is not new, nor has it ever been successful, by most standards of success ("dyke" "fag," "nigger," "kike," "fat," etc., e.g.). These hurtful terms do not become "positive" nomenclature just by being used by the people they are meant to derogate. Neither do "bitch," "douche" or "douchebag," no matter how many times you claim that. The transformation from negativity to positivity is not magic, and it really does not happen, even over time. Do you really believe "nigger" is now a positive term just because a lot of Black people throw it around? Neither is "bitch," right? Female dogs aside, it doesn't work as a female-positive appellation, no matter who is using it. Witness the continued outcry every time you use these terms. Word. 3) If you are wanting to be taken seriously as journalists (and I think you do, and sometimes are), admit when you're wrong, change your position, know when to quit, move on. As a feminist since 1957, I can say with some authority: some fights aren't worth fighting, and you become that which you wish to defeat if you continue in this vein. Best to you all.

God, I love you gals.

You're the best. Love the content; love the tone. Keep it up!

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