Ah, fall… the time for oversized sweaters, UGG boots with leggings, and (of course) pumpkin spice lattes. True hallmarks of the basic bitch, if ever there were any.
But who exactly is the basic bitch anyway? She is ‘other girls’, as in ‘not like other girls’. She is the girls that your misogynistic douche of a hookup is telling you all of his exes were, but that you are – gloriously, thankfully, definitely – NOT. She is the girls you pride yourself for being so unlike, the girls who are superficial and definitely don’t care about feminism and social justice on the deep level that you do. The basic bitch is the epitome of all that is superficial, and too feminine to be taken seriously. She gets manicures, contours her face, and probably keeps her blonde highlights perfectly maintained.
When it comes down to it, othering the basic bitch is no different than the problematic claim of being “not like other girls”. The trope of the basic bitch is harmful for the same reasons. It purports that a girl cannot be like other girls, because something is inherently wrong with other girls and inherently wrong with femininity. Neither trope does anything to elevate or empower anyone; rather, they put down other women.
For most of modern Western history, women have been socialized to compete with one another. For job promotions, men, likes on social media – you name it – women are indirectly encouraged to be prettier, more desirable, and ‘better’ than one another in a way that men simply are not. The basic bitch is nothing more than a sugar-coated (or in the case of PSLs, whipped topping covered) disguise for pitting women against each other in an age-old competition enforced by the patriarchy, that none of us asked to be entered in.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t fallen into the trap of putting down other women by accusing them of being basic. I’m not proud to have made value judgments, on people I don’t even know, based on their love of things I deemed to be too mainstream, too popular …all while simultaneously justifying my own adoration of those very same things. The basic bitch is a prevalent figure in contemporary culture and an easy, ‘meaningless’ insult to reach for without unpacking its implications.
I’m also not claiming the basic bitch is oppressive though, or the next big feminist problem. She’s not. At the end of the day, the basic bitch is a fun stereotype and part of what makes her so fun is that we all, in some way, identify with her. We identify with her girly clichés – shopping sprees, trendy makeup, loving the new Taylor Swift song, to name a few. But our similarities are not flaws. Our femininity is not a flaw. Labeling women’s interests as basic and deserving of mockery is symptomatic of the internalized misogyny running deeply through so much of society.
If you’re a basic bitch, own that shit. Reclaim your basic alongside the reclamation of your sluttiness, use it as a term of endearment, go ahead. But if you’re vehemently not a basic bitch, you need to STOP using it as a way to put down other women. It’s of no consequence whether someone likes ‘girly’ or popular things. It literally.does.not affect you, so put that energy towards empowering the women around you instead of tearing them down.
I wear yoga pants exponentially more often than I go to yoga, I’ve cracked more than one iPhone screen, and there are very few things I love more than brunch. And you know what? I know at least one hundred ‘other girls’ who do the same and I am like them. I am like other girls and I’m damn proud of it because there’s no comparison I’d rather have drawn. ‘Other girls’ are some of the fiercest, strongest, and most inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Feminine traits aren’t laughable, undesirable, or useless and it’s time we stop letting any hint otherwise infiltrate our lexicon or our ways of thinking.