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Last week, Double X contributor Lauren Bans took a hard line on the term “douchebag.” According to Bans’ definition, “a douchebag is a very specific sub-segment of the asshole population . . . 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.”
One of the problems with crafting a reliable definition of “douchebag” is that the term is built from the outside. Nobody wants to identify as a douchebag. And so, each individual’s interpretation of the term will necessarily exclude characteristics which they share.
Not so with the term “bro.”
I happen to personally agree with Bans’ definition of “douchebag.” After all, Tucker Max, douchebag du jour, meets all of Bans’ criteria. But perhaps our agreement on “douchbag” is more than mere coincidence. After all, the Max standard of douchebaggery conveniently excludes snarky, frat-averse bloggers like Bans and myself from being thrown in with the douches. (For one: Under this definition, douches are all male).
As Bans notes, there are plenty of other words available to insult close relatives of douchebags: dumbshit, prick, tool, masturbatory elitist, hippie. (Me? I’d probably fall somewhere between the “dumbshit” and “masturbatory elitist” categories). But none of these terms is as fun to hurl as “douchebag” is. That word is satisfying. In practice, then, “douchebag” may actually be defined by the category of person the speaker reviles the most.
How might we come to a more objective definition of “douchebag”? Perhaps the key lies in studying the term’s closest relatives. Take “bro.” On UrbanDictionary.com, bro has been externally defined by the same characteristics as Bans’ douche: bros join fraternities, wear baseball caps, spike their hair, pop their collars, clutch red plastic cups, and are proud of it. But unlike “douchebag,” people actually call themselves “bros.” Is it possible that the term “bro” functions as a way for douchebags to reveal their “pretentious pride” in their fratty lifestyles without admitting how douchey it all is?
In one corner of the blogosphere, a community of self-identified bros has arisen to build an internal definition of “bro”—-and distance themselves from “douchebag”. What maketh a bro? Even at “brocial networking” Web site BroBible.com, the line between “bro” and “douche” is a very fine one indeed. Some of the most hotly-contested bro criteria, below.
Point: “back before certain bro activities like sports were invented, alcohol being discovered (can u imagine?), and women shaving their legs was thought of (yes, our ancestral brethren had to put up with this for generations) you could argue that hunting was one of the only bro activities around at the time, and remains one of its purest forms.”
Counterpoint: “Hunting is not bro. Maybe it would be bro if the animals had a gun to defend themselves.”
Point: “Phish shows=the ultimate chay. Drinking beers and puffing all day with other assorted party favors, grilling, in the sunshine is about as bro as it gets. The music is laid-back and chill, also bro, and incorporates elements of folk, funk, reggae, classic rock, and bluegrass, all bro in their own right. Phish dominates colleges, where every true bro learns the skills necessary for the rest of his life.”
Counterpoint: “Phish is only chill for a bro-raper. And bro-rape is definitely not chay.”
Point: “Ultimate Frisbee totally is a bro sport. . . . those who hate oughtta see some real ultimate before they judge, not that bullshit the kid with the tyedie t-shirt trys to pull on your quad every spring. although, if you can huck a disk cross quad while whering a pastels, a lax pinni, turf dogs, mids and croakies with a sweet pair of shades, you’ll find its a wonderful way to meet women.”
Counterpoint: “ultimate frisbee is hobby for people who werent any good at regular sports, as well as pussys who are afraid of contact, not a bro sport.”
Point: “CPX with steel forever. Always tilted, never with a gay visor.”
Counterpoint: “I don’t know, an all black Pro7 with a gold face mask is pretty sick.”
Point: “bros can originate from any culture. what makes us bros is our unquestionable love for brew (cerveza), babes (chicas), sports (deportes), and our dedication to these three pillars of strength.”
Counterpoint: “bros must fit the wasp mold.”
Photo by Unhindered by Talent, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0