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In the good old days, vaginal irrigation—-or “douching”—-was a feminine cure-all. With just one blast of vinegar bleach water, a douche could keep your vagina fresh, baby-free, and acceptable for presentation to your husband. Douching has since been widely discredited by the medical community, but the linguistic legacy of the vaginal douche lives on. Nowadays, the “douche” and its accessories—-like the “douchebag” and “douche-nozzle”—-are more often used for insult than genital hygiene.
Unfortunately, some of this century’s most offensive douching accessories have been lost to time. But “douche benches” and “douche cushions” deserve a proper schoolyard homage, as well. Kids, learn how to work these medical marvels into your playground vernacular, below.
The Douche Bench, ca. 1900
Inventor: William Theodor Gregg
Theory: The relaxing douche option. “The purpose of this invention is to provide means on which a woman may recline while douching the vagina and with the help of which the parts may be properly disposed for the application of the douche.”
Modern Usage: “Get up off the couch and take out the trash, you lazy douche-bench.”
The Douche Chair, ca. 1908
Inventor: Sarah Ann Mendenhall
Theory: Hell, nobody said douching was easy. “The objects of the invention are to provide a table or apparatus of this character, adapted more particularly for the administration of rectal enemas and vaginal douches, in the employment of which the patient will be supported in the most advantageous and comfortable position to secure the best results from the treatment; in which the evacuated matter may be disposed of in a manner that will not be offensive either to the patient, or to the attendant, if there be one; to provide for the necessary adjustment of the parts of the apparatus to bring the limbs and body of the patient to the proper position to secure the most efficacious injection of the remedial or other agents; to render all of the parts that will be exposed to contact with contaminative matter thoroughly sanitary and cleanly; to adapt the apparatus to be knocked down or collapsed when not in use, thus to occupy but small space; and, generally, to improve the construction and extend the range of usefulness of apparatus of this character.”
Modern Usage: “You need 50 discretely labeled parts to get some water into your vagina? You prissy little douche chair!”
The Douche Mat, ca. 1899
Inventor: Mary M. Hawley
Theory: When you just can’t get out of bed for your morning douching. “The objects of this invention are to afford thorough and adequate protection against soiling and wetting the bed-linen in giving douches or enemas and to provide ready and effective means for conveying away the water or other detergent used to a suitable receptacle.”
Modern Usage: “I’m rubber; you’re a douche-mat. Everything you say bounces off me, then drips discretely from beneath your bedlinens, where it comes to rest in this decorative urn.”
The Douche Table, ca. 1923
Inventor: Lizzie Gish
Theory: I think this one is upside down. “The device consists essentially of a table . . . to avoid the necessity of either climbing or stooping to any considerable extent when desiring to occupy the supported surface [to douche your vagina].”
Modern Usage: “Your mother’s vagina is so resistant to douching, she is forced to climb atop an elevated table and dubiously cleanse her genitalia with the aid of gravity.”
Douche Cushion, ca. 1897
Inventor: Albert Stoll
Theory: For the facial douche. “The device is by its novel construction found to be of great utility as a pillow and bathing device for the head. Thus in case, of a cut, wound, or sore on the head the head can be placed upon the pillow previously filled with hot water or medicated liquid, with the wound or part to be treated on the aperture in the pillow, and a steady stream of the hot water or medicament can be applied to wash the wounded or sore portion, and this notwithstanding that the patient is compelled to take a recumbent position either from weakness or through an accident.”
Modern Usage: “Your face is a douche cushion.”