The XX Factor

In Defense of a More Stringent Use of the Word “Douchebag”

There’s a funny spoof video up on Boing Boing framed as a PSA of sorts in support of douchebag solidarity. It features a handful of self-pegged douchebags, one pumping iron at the gym, another riffing for the amusement of drink-dangling babes at a bar, all waxing on about the persecution of the douches: “For too long you’ve told us to shut the fuck up … that people who are different from me matter.” But because I evidently cannot take a joke (and this may in fact make me a douchebag according to the video’s standards) my first thought was: This is a grossly incorrect use of the word “douchebag.”

Some of the guys in the video-the weight lifter, the greasy skater kid at the bar, the gangsta-style, oversized-jersey-wearing dude in the garage-they’re just simply not douchebags. They may be dumbshits or pricks, but I’ve always been under the impression that a douchebag is a very specific sub-segment of the asshole population (I am so tempted to draw you a Venn diagram here), and that the douchebag label necessitates a middle-class or higher wealth level, a gross adherence to fratty mainstream tastes (think popped collars and bars in midtown Manhattan), and a rather pretentious pride in that specific way of life. In a word: Dane Cook . He looks like the homecoming king and has the comedic sensibility of the bro-iest bro (A Dane Cook joke: “We should just have an orgy right here, right now. Let’s just fucking turn off the lights and everybody just feeeeeeel around. Let’s just turn off the lights and play a game called Who’s In My Mouth?”) He is the human embodiment of the douchebag concept. An overeager skater kid is not.

I ran into this same problem back in August when GQ named Brown University their douchiest school . Now Brown is a lot of things (Disclosure: It’s my alma mater), but the one thing it’s not is douchey. It’s trust-fund hippie-ish and masturbatorily idealist, but there is not one popped collar, managerial-aspiring, Dane-Cook-loving student to be found.

This is all just to say: Let us keep our insults semantically pure please!