Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another post about shaming...

This post may be offensive.  If you don't like frank language, please move on to your next favorite spot on the Web.

Yesterday, I happened to see a photo posted by someone in a Facebook group I got added to somehow.  The group consists of Mormons and ExMormons.  Even though I've technically never actually been in either group, I think I am thought of as sort of an honorary exmo in some circles.

When I first saw this photo, the first thing that came to mind is the mushroom on Super Mario Brothers.  I was the first one to comment and that was what I wrote.  Other people made comments that made it clear that they either thought the photo was funny or they pitied the woman who was in it.

It was pretty obvious to me that this photo was posted by the original poster in an attempt to be funny.  Now, I know it's not nice to make fun of people and, to be honest, these kinds of photos often make me uncomfortable.  I usually ignore them and avoid reading the comments because people can be really mean.  What I saw in that particular thread was not really all that mean, though most of the people weren't being particularly nice or complimentary, either.  

Along comes a molly who chastises everyone for making rude comments about the photo.  A couple of others chimed in, tsk tsking the rest of the group for being "mean".  One woman said making fun of anonymous people in photos is "douchey".  

One lady got very upset, because she thought these women were calling her out for being mean and "douchey".  She defended herself, which seemed to amplify the chastisement from the molly who originally piped up.  I felt sorry for the woman who was feeling attacked, so I wrote that the thread was intended to be funny.  Not everyone shares the same sense of humor and what some people think is funny, others will find tasteless.  And while I understand that it's not nice to make fun of random photos of people, neither is it nice to publicly shame people on Facebook.  

In my humble opinion, it's mostly not my job to correct other peoples' behavior online because I am certainly no paragon of good taste or propriety (the one exception is when people attribute The Paradox of Our Time to George Carlin).  The thread then heated up, but I decided I wasn't getting into it with those ladies because I had already made myself "heard" and I doubted either side would be changing anyone's mind.  I backed out of the thread.  I did start to think about the situation, though, on several levels.

First off, I hate the term "douche" used in a derogatory way.  I think it's non-sensical.  A douche is basically an apparatus used to clean a vagina or, in some places, it's a shower.  There is nothing really offensive about that.  What is offensive about a douche is not the product itself, but the residue that results from using one.  A box of Summer's Eve or Massengill is not offensive.  The stuff that comes out after you've used Summer's Eve might be.  So really, you should be calling someone "douche residue" if you want to be offensive.

This is a douche.  What, exactly, is offensive about it?

One of my friends commented that she likes the term "douche nozzle".  My response is that at least the douche nozzle goes into an appropriately gross part of the body.

Young girl talks to her mom about feeling "not so fresh"...  How does one stay ladylike while talking about the smell of their twat?

She then wrote back that the vagina should be celebrated, to which I wrote "Exactly.  So if your vagina is to be celebrated and you use a douche to get rid of the 'not so fresh feeling', why would you call someone a "douche" in a pejorative way?"  A douche is meant to make your life more pleasant, right?  And somehow, calling someone a "douche", which is a product mostly used by women, strikes me as a bit misogynistic.  In a roundabout way, it seems to me that calling someone a "douche" is a slightly less offensive way of calling them a cunt.  While some people may deserve to be called that and I have no problem directing that word to those who actually deserve it, the word "douche" and its many compound incarnations as an insult has become so commonplace that people are desensitized to it.  

I love how virginal this woman looks as she talks about post menstrual douching.  I notice that most of the early ads used young white women to represent the product.

Then another friend reminded me that douching is not good for one's vagina.  Right, it's a self-cleaning organ.  That's why I stay away from douchebags; but when I write that, I mean it literally.  I mean I don't douche, not that I stay away from people who have been identified has "douchebags".  If someone is a jerk or an asshole, that's what I call them because that is the more accurate term.  Although if I'm being honest, the term "asshole" probably gets a raw deal, too.  Where would we be if we didn't each have an asshole as part of our anatomies?  I know my life would be a lot less pleasant.  

Secondly, while I agree that fat and ugly shaming people and posting photos to make fun of strangers on the Internet is not a nice thing to do, it's also not nice to deliberately try to make people feel bad for posting their thoughts, especially when what they wrote is not egregiously unkind.  By the way, I am sorry I posted my comment.  I usually ignore those types of photos, but the resemblance to the Super Mario Brothers mushroom was kind of uncanny to me and I often say things without thinking.  So do many otherwise nice people.  But it's not nice to police your peers on what they should or shouldn't be saying, especially since there is a very good chance that you're being a hypocrite.  Moreover, when people engage in public shaming, it's often less about them being genuinely offended about something and more about wanting to dominate and influence other people.  In my opinion, if you think something is really offensive to the point at which you need to say something, it's better to speak privately to the person who's upset you.  That way, you can get your point across without unnecessarily embarrassing them in front of their peers and looking, well, "douchey".    

Thank GOD I never had a conversation like this with my mom...

Obviously, it's a good thing to remind yourself to be nice.  But aside from setting a good example for other people, it's really not your place to tell other people what to do or say or try to tell them what is or what is not appropriate to post.  I think it's alright to say that something bothers you or makes you uncomfortable.  To flat out say to someone, "It's douchey to make fun of peoples' ugly photos." is basically saying that your opinions of what is and what is not appropriate trumps their opinions.  And that, in my opinion, is shitty behavior.  I spent a lot of my youth around horses and I know how much shit horses produce.  Imagine the shit that can come from riding a moral high horse.  It stinks; it's unsightly; and it can be hard to shovel after awhile.

Thinking about this situation led me to remember a conversation I had with one of my aunts.  She confided to me that she hates it when people say something "sucks".  She said that was the one phrase that just really offends her to the core.  I use "sucks" all the time.  So do a lot of people.  But I started thinking about where that term comes from, remembering when a soldier told me that it originally referred to something potentially very vulgar.    

According to


Old English sucan, from PIE root *sug-/*suk- of imitative origin (cf. OldSaxon, Old High German sugan, Old Norse suga, Middle Dutch sughen, Dutch zuigen, German saugen "to suck;" Latin sugere "to suck," succus" juice, sap;" Old Irish sugim, Welsh sugno "to suck"). Meaning "do fellatio" is first recorded 1928. Slang sense of "be contemptible" first attested 1971(the underlying notion is of fellatio). Related: Sucked ; sucking. Suck eggs is from 1906. Suck hind tit "be inferior" is American English slang first recorded 1940.

This particular use of the slang term "sucks" at one time implied engaging in fellatio.  While males can participate in performing fellatio, when it involves sucking, it's usually a woman or a gay man doing it.  So, if you think about it, saying something "sucks" can be somewhat misogynistic too, even though the term has since sort of evolved into something more benign.  Now, when someone says something sucks, it basically means that it's disappointing or of poor quality.  But at one time, it referred to sucking dick and, while many men enjoy having their dick sucked, it may not be as pleasurable or appealing if you're the one doing the sucking.  So I can see why my aunt thinks it's disgusting to say something "sucks", though I doubt I'll modify my use of it.

That being said, I now realize that I am myself a hypocrite.  I don't like using the term "douche" to describe someone who is a jerk, but I have no problem saying something "sucks".  Which means I have no business telling other people what they should or should not find funny or trying to shame them into not being "douchey" (*eyeroll).

Anyhoo, it looks like the woman who took offense to the photo and stirred up the shitbrew has left the Facebook group.  I gave some thought to it myself, since I don't participate much and don't enjoy drama.  On the other hand, it does give me something to write about on an otherwise boring Saturday.  


  1. Some people take Internet groups as well as life in general too seriously.

    In one of my family's previous towns of residence, we knew a family in whom the condition of imperforate anuses ran. Their son about my age was born with one. The funny thing about it was that their last name was Buttner.

    1. You are right, Alexis. Some people really do need to get a life.

      Seriously, I don't know what I'd do every morning if not for my asshole... I'd soon be even more full of shit than I already am.


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