Sunday, June 28, 2009

Douch Bags, Wife Beaters and Vagina Music


I was reading the Bitch Blog this morning when, I came
across a post on Vagina Music by Andi Zeisler.

I instantly suspected that Vagina music was derisive term
because vagina's are used in popular
language to describe
things that we hate, because we are socialized
to hate women.

Our use of language reflects our reality.
As I read it, my suspicion was confirmed. Andi Zeisler writes,

But it wasn’t until I heard an acquaintance refer to Coldplay as “vagina music” that I began to rethink my own casual use of the phrase as a catchall descriptor for the descendants of Cris Williamson and Tracy Chapman. Because , while I am no fan of Coldplay... it’s clear that describing them as vagina music was not this person’s way of saying that their latest album reminded him of the oeuvre of Paula Cole.

So from this, we can infer that vagina music is not only music that others feel subjected to/wish to avoid, or music that sounds generically female, it’s music for pussies. And pussies are pussies because they’re…like women.

Masculinity, in mainstream American culture is largely
defined by
trying to be oppressive or violent towards
other men, and to most certainly be
oppressive towards
woman. This is why homophobia
is rooted in our hatred
of women.

Which leads me to the question, without dominating women, what
would American masculinity look like

We use language to organize how we relate to one another
in the world.
I was reminded of how our word choices can
normalize the hatred of women when I read
the following
passage in Taking Back God American Women for Religious

Equallity by Laura Tannenbaum. She writes,

...inclusive language is needed because words and the images
they evoke, have the power to shape our attitudes: male dominant language creates and reinforces a hierarchical
order in which women are regarded as subordinate; words indicate our basic belief and assumptions about ourselves, about others and about God.
Again. Words indicate our basic belief and assumptions about
ourselves about others and about God.

Calling a group of men a "girls" is an insult because in a
where men are dominant and women are
dominated, the last
thing the world you want to be is a
woman or gay

I do not refer to mixed gendered groups of people as
"guys." I call them folks or if they are my friends "party people."

I use this because I try and use language that reflects an
understanding of how gender and power is obtained and
maintained in pop culture, in mainstream media and day to day life.

Our language and our laws reflect a tendency to classify humans
as men by default.

Being a man is not the default status of humanity.
Being a girl is not an insult.

If I believed that hype, I might hate myself.

The Pervasiveness of the Douche Bag
If a douche bag is a feminine hygiene product, why is it used to describe
people in general and men specifically who are inconsiderate
and self centered?

What exactly is idiot like, inconsiderate, self centered or moron like
about a feminine hygiene product?

The passive acceptance of the usage of the term is indicative of our
acceptance of the public dislike of vagina's.
The loose usage of the
term indicates passive acceptance of the public hatred of femininity
and women.

Which brings me to wifebeaters.
I don't call white tank tops
wife beaters
I call them white tanks. If I am in a real snarky
mood I call them wife killers
which completly throws people off.

Why wife killers?

The majority of women killed in this country are murdered by
an intimate partner.

I would imagine that the term is derived from the stereotype of
a white beer drinking man in rural America who beats his wife.

I will concede that this steroetype may be based in fact. However,
describing a t-shirt as a wife beater when most women murdered
are killed by their intimate partners is careless and perpetuates the
notion that hitting women (and people) expected and for that matter
is accepted.

From Vagina music, to douche bags and wife beaters, the
ways in which
our day to language reflects our tendency to
normalized hatred towards women.

Have you given any thought to how the language that we use
reinforces stereotypes
and gender hierarchies?

You ever thought about what a douche bag is and why
it is an insult
? Am I wrong?

Or does language in fact reflect
the way we see women?

**This post was informed by Douche Bags and Wife Beaters

1 comment:

yeuxdefeu said...

i think it is truly important to think about our language in this way - but as regards 'douche bag' used as an insult, i think there have been claims made that this is used as a feminist insult because douche-ing is not necessary to 'feminine hygiene', but rather a practice put in place because of the perception of women's crotches as dirty and shameful. in other words, douche bags are a tool of the patriarchy, and therefore to call someone a douche bag is, in some contexts, an accusation of collaboration with/active participation in an oppressive system that devalues' women's bodies.

i wish i knew more about the origin of the term as an insult, though. it definitely predates its current use on feminist blogs, and i think that the original meaning would affect how credible i find the above argument.

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