Tuesday, February 26, 2008

dumping the "d" word

(warning: this post may or may not be suitable for the following: actual douches, wannabe douches, and anyone who has a problem with vajayjays. you've been sufficiently warned).

okay. so i have been feeling some guilt about calling myself a starbucks douche. i mean, i have previously tried to validate my use of the term as a subversive strategy. and because, for reals, there are an exceptional amount of douches in the world. however. the question remains: is it appropriate for a feminist to use the "d" word? hmmm. let's ponder.

when i think of the word douche, i think of my dutch aunt. stay with me - this isn't going off the rails. yet. she never fails to use the word douche when i stay with her, as in, "and here is the room for the douche for the morning." okay, douching is not some kind of bizarre, collective, room-specific dutch morning ritual. she means the shower, but she inevitably uses the french term, la douche. my aunt isn't pretentiously co-opting the word. it is just how she learned to say it in english, okay?

then there's the summer's eve douches of my youth. not of my youth exactly (thank baby jesus that it had gone out style as a cleansing trend by my so-called "coming of age"). but characterized that part of my '80s youth that was horrified by the very. thought. of. bringing. back. freshness. every(gulp)time. gawd. i still can't say it without shuddering in my formerly nine-year old skin. bah. (and perhaps this is the very problem. the idea that i had when i was nine, or whatever godforsaken age, that made me cringe at the thought of something specific to women's "parts").

and finally there is the discovery of someone's mother's douche which you crowd around as if you have found a piece of the lost ark. or porn. or the filthiest secret imaginable. that just happens to have a nozzle.

so, okay. before i lose my audience entirely, i would like to bring us back to the point at hand. does douche in fact call to mind any of these above examples? or does it represent a kind of male humour that pillages and appropriates the very intimacies of the human female body for the sake of laughter? or rather, does it stand as a testament to the douche pictured above? has it successfully morphed meaning? in our hypertextual, unfixed meaning, postmodern world can douche mean douche? seriously. i need to know.

what do you think?

(i just want to apologize personally to matthew mcconaughey for a joke that has gotten out of hand. sorry. i'm an a-hole).


Shells said...

To comment, or not to comment...that is the question!
It's a fine line, and I'm all for trampling the hell out of fine lines. But. I'm always wary of 'reappropriating' words that quite frankly associate dirt with women's genitalia, especially if those words are to be used in the negative. Just a thought. :)

jacks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jacks said...

shells - as always, your insight is deliciously controversial and i love it. it think you are on to something - an insult that is predicated on the notion that you are the thing that cleans women's dirty, filthy, leaky, porous bodies may in fact be be beyond reappropriation. however, yesterday i noticed a poster in the department that was encouraging undergraduate students (seemingly) to use the word gay properly by suggesting that gay is not synonymous with stupid but rather with an identity category. when we consider the etymology of the word douche (that is, a a device used to introduce a stream of water into the body for medical or hygienic reasons, or the stream of water itself) we realize that it is in fact, an erroneous contention that it has anything to do with women's "dirt." vajayays, i am happy to report, are self-cleaning ovens (to quote a oprah episode) and that is why the douche has become obsolete as a medical or hygienic cleaning implement. like today's nozzled douches, human douches perhaps embody excess, or the conformity to out-dated, old-fashioned (gendered) discourses premised on notions of appropriateness and propriety.

i went pretty far out on a limb to justify my use of the word. perhaps i can't let go of la douche. or perhaps i should shift the topic of my dissertation since that is the most prolific i have been for a while. ;)

Shells said...

You make a convincing argument. I'm still not totally convinced, but I will give it some more thought. :)

Ty said...

having heard jacks toss douche around a few times, i'm gonna have to vote for not dumping it just yet, based almost entirely on how much it cracks me up - although, i also like your argrument comparing the device's outdated ideologies with the equally outdated ideologies of the misogynistic mcconaugheys of the world. (http://passionweiss.com/2006/03/20/mcconaughey-says-he-will-continue-to-ignore-the-masses/)

jacks said...

ty - yay for the preservation of the douche! at least in one sense anyhoo. i love the related blog post you found that proves, once again, that matthew mcconaughey is not only a douche, but unquestionably a deluded misogynist as well. (for those interested in this post, since the url doesn't fit, google "passionweiss mcconaughey" and get the goods). i have no idea where this hate-on came from for this guy but i really gotta chill out. gonna give myself an aneurysm or whatever you get from too much douching.