Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why "basic" needs to stop

Urban Dictionary has become more relevant than Webster's in our world of text lingo and verbal shorthand. There are millions of beautiful words in the English language, yet we use terms like "totes," "ratchet" and "bae." (I think our all-time low as a society happened when people started saying "legit-ly." It's "LEGITIMATELY.")

"Basic" (and "basic bitch") is one that's really annoyed me since the first time I heard it. To call someone "basic," especially women, who face enough problems with self-image, is calling them unoriginal. Predictable. Not special. Undesirable.

An article by Noreen Malone on The Cut called "What Do You Really Mean When You Say 'Basic Bitch'?" described the term this way:
"Basic, according to the BuzzFeed quizzes and CollegeHumor videos that wrested the term from the hip-hop world and brought it into the realm of white-girl-on-white-girl insults, means someone who owns things like Uggs and North Face and leggings. She likes yogurt and fears carbs (there is an exception for brunch), and loves her friends, unless and until she secretly hates them. She finds peplum flattering and long (or at least shoulder-grazing) hair reliably attractive. She exercises in various non-bulk-building ways, some of which have inspired her to purchase special socks for the experience. She bought the Us Weekly with Lauren Conrad's wedding on the cover. She Pins. She runs her gel-manicured hands up and down the spine of female-centric popular culture of the last 15 years, and is satisfied with what she feels. She doesn't, apparently, long for more."
By that conflicting and incongruous definition, don't we all fit into the category in some way or another?

Yes, I like pumpkin spice lattes, but I hate Uggs. Am I basic?
I use Pinterest, but I couldn't care less about Lauren Conrad's wedding or Us Weekly. Am I basic?
I don't get gel manicures, but my hair does, in fact, graze my shoulders. Am I basic?
I like yogurt, but I loooove carbs. Am I basic?

Malone goes on to say this:
"And so the woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn't sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation."
Is this the direction we want to take our society? We like to say we're all for equality, and feminism has become one of the most prominent issues in pop culture, but we're okay with calling out a girl because her interests aren't interesting enough?

"Basic" needs to stop. Because liking "predictably trendy" things doesn't make you predictable, boring, undesirable. Because everyone — woman or man — is original, in one way or a hundred. You are special. We are all special. And we are all better than this word.

1 comment :

  1. Did you ever listen to the high school graduation speech given in 2012? The speaker, one of the high school teachers, builds the whole speech around the premise "you're not special."
    It's really great. Essentially, his 'argument' is that you've been told most of your life that you're special and get trophies for participating, but logically, you are one in 7 billion. There are so many people out there like you.
    HOWEVER, does that mean YOU don't have something to offer the world? Not at all. Sometimes this idea of 'being special' and 'unique' can become overbearing, building up to this feeling that 'society expects me to do something amazing.' The reality is actually, no; you don't have to do anything extra-ordinary with your life to still have a great life.

    I hope this makes sense. I like what you write, Eleni; I'm not at all arguing with what you said...just rambling, just sharing.


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