“Basic b****” stereotype puts down women
When asked to describe a Basic B****, most people in their twenties could do so with ease. It’s the girl with the leggings and boots, who probably “can’t even.”
Perhaps most crucial to their ensemble is the holy grail of the Basic B****, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL). This year, Starbucks announced it was releasing its customers’ favorite fall drink, the PSL, early. So, on Aug. 28, millions of young women formed lines out the door in order to get the first PSL of the season while other girls stood on the sidelines and made snide remarks about so-called Basics.
This rivalry has become so distinct that even legitimate periodicals have started commenting on it. Noreen Malone of New York Magazine argued that young women in their late teens and early 20s have more or less split into one of two categories: the Basic B**** and the Girl Who’s Not Like Other Girls.
When defining “basic” she said, “The word ‘basic’ has become an increasingly expansive stand-in for ‘woman who fails to surprise us.’”
Since the Not Like Other Girls group is so focused on being unique and surprising, it’s pretty easy to see where the term “basic” devolved into an insult.
Unfortunately, the PSL is only one of the indicators of being Basic. According to Buzzfeed, an online news source for popular culture, a basic may have a love for any one of the following: Ugg boots, North Face jackets, Lulu Lemon leggings, scented candles, pumpkin patches, fall, Starbucks, the television show Friends, and cupcakes.
This means that if you like any of these things, you run the risk of falling into the “basic” stereotype.
So, the second category of girls, the ones who supposedly aren’t like the others, have taken to criticizing anything even remotely “basic” in an effort to avoid being called so themselves. Because of this, so many young women feel a sense of shame in admitting that they actually really do like fall, or that they have always found scented candles to be the best way to relax after a particularly long day.
An article called “Why I’m Proud to Be a Basic B****” released in the magazine The Guardian discussed this exact issue. The author, under the pseudonym Daisy Buchanan, explained that being “basic” really is just another limitation of acceptable ways of expressing gender.
According to her, each of the markers of the “basic” girl is a signifier of femininity. To call a girl “basic” because she likes these things is really just criticizing her for exhibiting femininity.
Now, the Girl Who Isn’t Like Other Girls may validate her dislike of the “basics” because she feels that these girls are squashing their potential by acting vapid, submissive and predictable, just as society wants them to.
According to her, the true feminist does not conform to society’s norms. Buchanan disagrees. In the same article, she said, “Dismissing all cultural feminine signifiers might look like a feminist act, but it’s rude. We shouldn’t make assumptions about a woman’s interests and habits based on her gender.”
Buchanan makes a good point; being a feminist does not mean renouncing a feminine identity, and it doesn’t mean degrading a woman for choosing to display her femininity. In fact, feminism is about attaining and celebrating equality of the genders, however they are expressed.
To call a girl “basic” because she displays her femininity in a certain way isn’t helping the feminist cause, it’s hurting it.
If young women really want to be part of a progressive and equal society, they shouldn’t be splitting themselves into opposing teams based on trivial preferences. Instead, they should be choosing to wear, buy, drink and participate in what they want without fear of being classified into a baseless and demeaning stereotype.
By the way, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are delicious, and anyone who won’t try them because they’re too “basic” is really missing out.