R-Min? More like D-Bag!

Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin


As Jonanna and Ray have pointed out below, although it’s effing incredible Obama’s our new president, local elections across the country left a lot to be desired.

Take Michele Bachmann, who just achieved a close victory over Democratic-endorsed, adorably-named Elwyn Tinklenberg in Minnesota’s Congressional election, and is the first official recipient of the Bitch blog’s Douchebag Decree, our new public service informing readers of douchebaggery near and far.

For those unfamiliar with this harpy of a politician, she’s pro-life, pro-creationism, and against marriage between anything that’s not a man and a woman (or a church and a state). She’s a total Palin prototype—lending credence to the theory these political hockey moms are factory-manufactured by the dozens in the barren plains of North Dakota and then released, one by one, to the different corners of the nation in order to destroy it.

Bachmann’s name hit national press most recently this past October when she gaffed on Hardball with Chris Matthews, suggesting certain congress members (specifically implicating that uppity Barack Obama) were anti-American. For a quick recap of the blunder and hasty backtracking, here’s our favorite commentator with the skinny:

Although expected to lose the election after such a polarizing faux pas (Tinklenberg’s donations skyrocketed almost overnight), Bachmann unfortunately managed to pull ahead by a scant 3% lead in Tuesday’s election. Seeing as Bachmann’s passé McCarthyism wasn’t enough to convince District 6 in Minnesota of her inherent skeeziness, we may have to dig deeper into her arsenal of douchebag-qualifying characteristics to justify her “Decree” nomination. But not too deep.

Besides supporting creationism and homeschooling, Bachmann is a veteran pro-life activist, and is featured on the Susan B. Anthony List, “a political action committee helping pro-life women gain election to Congress.” Bachmann proposed a Minnesota constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage not once, but twice (it failed to get on the ballot), staging huge anti-gay protests and rallying the evangelical vote in the process. She often cites the detrimental effect gay marriage would have on children, saying in 2005:

Little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and perhaps they should try it…It will take away the civil rights of little children to be protected in their innocence, but also the rights of parents to control their kids’ education and threaten their deeply held religious beliefs.

Yeah, she went there. She said civil rights.

Then there’s this soundbite from 2005, when in regards to multicultural diversity, Bachmann stated, “Let’s appreciate and value everyone’s cultures. But guess what? Not all cultures are equal. Not all values are equal.” The clip in all its racist, Eurocentric glory is here:

Bachmann, you may be a congresswoman for a painful two years, but you shall retain your douchbag status now and forever more.

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18 Comments Have Been Posted


If I had a nickel for every mental cartoon I've made about a sweet, humble old man named Elwyn Tinklenberg who spends his time shining his shoes and cradling his puppy until one day he falls victim to a wrathful Bachmann beastie and her good old-fashioned witch hunt...
--a native and current resident of Minnesota


She definitely deserves her douchebag status. Wow.....ignorance is a sad sad thing. And Sarah Palin is even worse.

I'm sorry if this just seems

I'm sorry if this just seems nitpicky, but not all homeschoolers are wackos. Really. Many I know homeschool because they see government schools as being far too conservative.


But yes, this woman is appalling.

I concur ...

... My cousin homeschools her son and she is not particularly "evangelical" or "conservative" Christian at all. In fact, her and her family are currently attending a Congregational/United Church of Christ kind of denomination.

What I would like to see, is some sort of feature regarding the stereotyping/marginalizing of home-schooling parents. Not all of them are Conservative, "Evangelical," Pentecostal Christian parents (the ones that homeschool their children to ensure that the Bible is taught to them, along with the required curriculums). Many are home-schooling their children as a "last-resort" because other schooling situations proved to be unsuitable for them (Including too-conservative curriculums that are taught in some school systems. Abstinence-only sex ed, anyone? Not to mention some questionable disciplinary actions, like corporal punishment, that some conservative schools reserve the right to practice, lawsuits be damned). These parents deserve some consideration, too. Home schooling should be an option free from scrutiny, marginalization and judgementality - a CHOICE and a reasonable option, for that matter.

You should read...

the Bitch article by Maya Schenwar "Learning Curve
Radical “unschooling” moms are changing the stay-at-home landscape." My links are not working on this site but you can use the search engine on this page to easily find it.

one more...

yeah. bundling homeschooling into a bigoted right wing set of ideals is unfair and uncool. just sayin'... i am a radical anarcho-feminist who homeschools/unschools because of the racist, classist, patriotic, misogynist crap that is part of compulsory education and public schooling... not to teach it at home!


It was super lazy of me to simply drop the word "homeschooling" without further describing Bachmann's policies on public education or distinguishing it from the many progressive homeschool institutions and families behind them (here's <a href="http://bitchmagazine.org/article/learning-curve">the link to Maya Schenwar's article).</a> By mentioning "creationism" and "homeschooling" in the same breath, I meant to imply Bachmann's brand of homeschooling was more along the lines of "dinosaurs existed 5,000 years ago" rather than "the US government obviously doesn't give a schtank about the state of public education and I want something better for my child."

The <i>City Pages</i> article I linked to further goes into Bachmann's involvement in education around <a href="http://www.citypages.com/2006-10-04/news/the-chosen-one/3">page 3.</a> She began a charter school (the only school her children attended outside of home) but resigned after it was suspected that the publicly-funded school was actually pretty religious. Thanks for the comments though, and I'm glad this conversation was started.

the barren plains of North Dakota

I grew up in the barren plains of ND, and I can attest to the fact that they are NOT a breeding ground for right-wing assholes. I understand that SD and ND are the necktie of the Bible belt, but not everyone is a nut job. My accent is similar to Palin, but my political beliefs and ideals are polar opposites.

Big time Obama Supporter Sen. Tom Daschle is from SD

Plus he was the Democrat's U.S. Majority Senitor Leader.

If anything...

I don't find the term "douchebag" as disturbing as the need to minimize hockey moms by implying they are created in factories. While I don't fully understand the reasons some may have for supporting people like Ms. Bachmann, I do believe that if I ever want to try to influence those people to consider other options I need to at least believe they are human beings with complex thought processes like everyone else. I don't see how linking Ms. Bachmann to others in a way that implies that anyone who would support her is a thoughtless android really helps to strengthen the point that *Ms. Bachmann* is scary. In some ways I think it hurts the conversation.

yeah, but what about...

homeschool, homeschool, homeschool...hello?? did you hear what this woman just said?
she's not just some nut - she's an elected representative of the state of Minnesota. it is seriously disturbing that someone so BLATANTLY racist and eurocentric could be elected to a government office TODAY, by any state.
and yeah, i get the homeschool thing - my siblings were homeschooled and it wasn't some kind of creationism brainwashing project - but we should be up in arms about this lunatic getting any kind of credibility

I had occasion in the past

I had occasion in the past few days to go take a look at an official transcript of the U.S. Constitution (here: http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html) and no where did I see the right to innocence defined therein.

I have to say that while I agree with the post I'm a little concerned about the inherent misogyny in using the word douchebag. Smart people realize that douche is just another way of saying irrigate but in mainstream culture most people associate douching with female genitals and do we really need another word with negative connotations that tracks back to female biology floating around out there? Seriously, I kind of expect better from the magazine that recently ran an article on trying to get the phrase "you guys" for referring to mixed sex groups out of your vocabulary.

Rethink "Douchebag"

I agree that "douchebag" is an inappropriate epithet for a feminist . It belongs in a male chauvinist lexicon as the use of the term as an insult is rooted in disgust for "dirty" female genitalia, as noted.

Why not substitute the yiddish epithet "schmuck"? It also means "jerk", but is literally translated as "penis".

on "douchebag"

I love Bitch, and I'm a proud queer who doesn't usually have an issue with reclaiming language... but "douchebag" leaves me uneasy, and I am disappointed that Bitch is using it. I am open to discussion on this point, so I'd really love to hear the thoughts of people who use the word without qualms... but I think that it's unfortunate that a word so closely associated with women's bodies is being used as an epithet by a feminist organization. I know that douching is not a healthy thing for women, and that the douchebag is a device that catches the flow from the douching process, and that we aren't advocating that for female-bodied folks... but honestly, I don't think that most people think about it at that level of detail. My hunch is that for the vast majority of folks who hear and use the term "douchebag," they think douching... vaginas... gross!

So, anyone willing to defend the use of "douchebag?" I'm really interested in having that conversation...

That said, I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of the d-bag award... just not the naming.

D-Bag is perfect

I get what you are saying about "douchbag" as an offensive term that suggests the dirtiness of female genitalia. But, if you think about it, douchbags and douching are themselves the gross part.
The vagina has its own natural system of cleaning and regulation that douching often disturbs. Douches come in pretty packages, but are bad for women...just like Michelle Bachman. Douching is also a product of the whole culture of selling things to women to clean their dirty secret places, which is quite offensive...just like Michelle Bachman.
I could go on.


I agree, I was taught that vaginas are the only part of the human body that cleans itself. Doesn't need cleaning, then when I started meeting a few Americans, and finally moving here, all of a sudden there is a thing that you squirt up into your vagina, to clean the only part of your body that doesn't need cleaning! Seems absurd to me. Douche just comes from the word "shower" in several European languages. So to me.. douchbag is nothing more than a "shower bag", but for some reason has turned into a funny-sounding word that you can call people.

That woman is on crack.

France is being taken over by a muslim ethic?!? Um...

I really think that alone should put her on the waiting list for a very secure mental hospital.


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