MANual of Style

“Douchebag” by Shreyas
6 February, 2010, 11:19 am
Filed under: Basic Concepts, Special | Tags:

My name is Shreyas, and some people think I’m a douchebag.

Chances are, some people think you’re a douchebag, too. What does that word even mean? Urban Dictionary certainly doesn’t have anything useful to say about it. The best I can figure out is, “A guy who I don’t like, possibly for reasons related to his personal presentation.”

In other words, a douchebag is someone who rubs you the wrong way. (My favorite is #9, “The name of the guy dating the girl of your dreams.”) Thing is, unless you’re a total care bear, there will always be people who rub you the wrong way, and since we humans are not identical, those douchebags might not be douchebags from where someone else is sitting. We gotta be cool with that.

What I’m getting at here is that you shouldn’t let a concept as vague as “douchebag” befog your thinking. If you see some dude on the street and instantly think, “What a douchebag,” stop and think about why. Is it that champagne polo shirt you swear you’ve seen on three other guys today? Is it the way he parked his car, or that he insists on wearing flip-flops in October like he’s still on spring break? I just want you to separate “that guy pisses me off” and “that guy’s outfit bugs me” because here at MANual, I don’t really care about the first, but the second bears some thinking about.

It’s easy to dress like your friends do, and a lot of guys you see whose outfits bug you are just doing that. They might not be thinking about it, or they might be dressing that way deliberately because they’re trying to convey a message with their wardrobe. The takeaway, for you, is don’t dress like that. You shouldn’t wear clothes that piss you off. You should wear clothes that make you look and feel good.

But at the same time, I don’t think you should judge people too harshly for the way they dress.

The other thing to remember is, everyone’s a douchebag to somebody. You shouldn’t let fear of looking like a douchebag dictate your style decisions for you. I’ve caught myself thinking “That guy is a douchebag” because I saw a guy wearing an outfit I loved, but wouldn’t have the guts to wear. Douchebag can imply fear or jealousy or disgust, and as a dashing and busy man about town, you shouldn’t take the time to worry about whether someone is applying that label to you because of your clothing. Never buy the first round at the bar? Sleep with your best friend’s significant other? Cut people off in traffic? Those are reasons to be concerned about your douchebaggyness. I attend roleplaying game conventions, and have been known to run games while wearing a three-piece suit and bow tie. I’ve gotten some askance looks from LARPers dressed in space marine regalia and suits of armor, anime cosplayers dressed like sailor scouts, and steampunk enthusiasts in goggles and ascots. I don’t really care, though: wearing a suit, looking sophisticated and turning heads makes me happy.

As long as you’re following your fashion rules for clothes that flatter you and not wearing anything blatantly offensive (swastikas, “now accepting applications for a Japanese girlfriend” T-shirts), wear what you like and don’t worry about anything else.


2 Comments so far
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I dunno. The way those people dressed in that video is not equal to the way most people I’ve heard proclaimed douchebags dress. And a lot of times the label is applied before one can even OBSERVE those behaviors: I mean, look at the response the pictures of people in this blog got in that thread on Story Games. People say “That guy looks like a douchebag” all the time, without any context for who the person is. Maybe you use the term to refer to something semi-specific, but to me it definitely seems like a vague pejorative.

Comment by Elizabeth

I think douchebag does mean something pretty specific.

Generally, it’s used to mean “self-obsessed, loud-mouthed, egotist”.

Specific behaviors: hijacking social space, shitting on others, disregarding the feelings of others, adopting a “suck it up, princess” mentality towards people’s problems, talking yourself up constantly, being an inconsiderate playa, blinging out.

Not saying “Yeah, this is a totally valid label and free of problems”, just saying “hey, the term actually does refer to something semi-specific”.

Now, people also use it as a substitute for “jerk” or “person I dislike”. But 80% of the time, it’s refering to this archetype of loud-mouthed egotistical wannabe-alpha male.

At least, that’s how I hear it used, and that’s who I see it directed at.

Not that anything I’ve just written has anything to do with fashion, except that these people tend to dress a certain way, just like any other group of people.

Comment by Joe McDonald

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