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01 SAC Gallery Douches

A Field Guide to the Modern American Douche

By Christopher Tennant

There’s an even more terrifying menace assaulting our species—and it’s real. Witness the ascendance of the modern American douchebag. In finance, politics, tech and media, on TV, in movies and especially on the internet, armies of half-men prove that preening self-promotion and unsportsmanlike conduct are the order of the day. Discretion, dignity, decorum and brotherhood are still admirable qualities, but in our society the dominant message is that these are best left to Grandpa. If you want to get ahead, you have to rock out with your cock out, dick-slapping the rest of humanity in the process. But what specific qualities define the modern douche? Is a social-media manager in Portland who dresses like a Mennonite, proclaims himself a feminist and makes his own pickles as douchey as Chris Brown? Of course not. But on close examination, they have a number of traits in common: a desperate need for validation, a peacockish urge to stand out, a smug sense that they’re above their fellow man and a tendency to post on Instagram. There used to be a raft of terms to describe a guy who rubbed most other men the wrong way—the lines separating a dick, a prick and a cocksucker, delineated for us in the schoolyard by our elders—but today there’s only one. For now, it is douche, and it will have to do. The New Oxford American Dictionary, which dates the word’s slang use to the 1960s, defines douchebag as a “loathsome or contemptible person,” which really doesn’t help much. You recognize a douche when you see one. We all do. But just in case, here’s a working taxonomy. Know thine enemy.

Photography by Chris McPherson
Illustrations by Zohar Lazar