Some men are douches. They're easy to spot: cocky, arrogant, and confrontational, with only stupidity backing up their aggressive actions. For example, one might call Rush Limbaugh a douche. Mel Gibson has displayed douche-like qualities, particularly when drunk. Carrot Top, Hasselhoff, countless politicians both historic and contemporary, all have earned the epithet.
The other night I called someone a "douche." Never mind who, because I forgot. But I haven't forgotten the surprise I felt when some of my girlfriends objected to its usage. I'd grown so accustomed to its slang meaning, I'd completely forgotten its original definition. My friends hadn't. They didn't see it as a derisive term for men, but another example of society's hatred towards women, hatred embedded in language itself. Like telling a little boy who's crying to "Stop acting like a girl" as if that were a bad thing! (By the way, I throw like a girl and am proud of it too.)
My immediate response was that few women use the hygienic device anymore, modern medicine pretty much debunking it as a beneficial practice, and I launched into a defense of the word's continued usage as a slur based on that shaky premise.
Now I'm not so sure. Does using the word perpetuate misogyny? Do our word choices reveal our true beliefs? And the big question: Am I a douche?