A Time for...Basic Bitches? Good Fun or Institutionalized Misogyny?

Google feed upon my search for "basic bitch."



Autumn is upon us, as is the autumnal craze for pumpkin spice everything including Jell-O and and Oreos. But now that we've become self-aware of our ridiculousness, is it erring on the side of misogyny?

(also, L'Shanah Tovah to my Jewish readers! I hope your evening is filled with apples and honey and your new year is sweet!)




Like every other red-blooded American from a white, upper middle class background, I'm a fan of a whole bunch of things that a lot of us seem to like. Bath & Body Works' line of Fall candles makes me swoon so much that I ask people to bring them from the US into the UK for me. The fact that I missed the new Polish Bath and Body Works when I was there in July makes me feel ill. And when I'm back in the States, I'm all for pulling on my comfy yoga pants, eating broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl at Panera and downing a seasonal Starbucks beverage (they don't do pumpkin spice here in the UK quite like they do in the US). Even my own mother told me when she visits me in Europe that she can actually handle the globalization of Starbucks because she just loves it so damn much. I believe all of this makes us typical, slightly obnoxious, slightly entitled, white people. I mean, yeah, men don't typically buy scented candles, but I do see them *gasp* eating in Panera and purchasing the occasional seasonal Starbucks beverage. 

But now, thanks in particular to Buzzfeed's series of articles about "Basic Bitches" during the fall, the tongue-in-cheek self-awareness of suburban white folk has seemed to become about labeling women in a derogatory fashion. 

Other than the fact that Buzzfeed has deemed fall "uncool" because "everyone loves xyz activities" (and people who don't participate clearly have more important things to do than be a human), they have specifically targeted women. This isn't the first time I've seen women being shamed for simply being a human being. In April, the Huffington Post ran an article entitled "'Tinderfella' Painstakingly Recreates Women's Poses on Tinder, and the Results are Priceless". And although people may have though it was hilarious to see man recreate female poses, many of them aren't even particularly ridiculous or worthy of mocking. His pictures include him poking fun at women skydiving, ironing, being pregnant and holding a teapot. Yet as a society, in 2014, we deem a man doing this "hilarious." 

The issue I have with the Buzzfeed series is not that the articles call out white people for their ridiculous whiteness, but that it specifically calls out white women. And not only that, but the phrase "Basic Bitch" in itself is offensive. Can you imagine if the phrase was "Basic F*g" or "Basic [Insert Racial Slur]"? The Internet would probably be in an uproar, but misogyny is so ingrained in our society that we hardly bat an eyelash, and even call it humor. It is almost as though it is more acceptable than homophobia or racism, generally speaking.

Happily, however, Buzzfeed was called out so much on its ridiculousness that they had to change the name of its article to "Basic Girls," but that still doesn't change the ridiculousness of the premise. 

So, originally, women who like things that are specifically marketed and targeted toward women are basic? That is evidenced with a College Humor skit in which a young woman who likes Love, Actually and wears sweatpants is diagnosed by her doctor a "basic bitch." Her husband, at the end, wants to divorce her because of her basicness.



But now, it has extended to liking seasonal items. Um?

What about the countless men who wear trackie bottoms/sweatpants, have arm tats, watch football religiously and sport Osaka 6 or Hollister shirts? Why aren't there Buzzfeed articles about that? Or why isn't there a "priceless" article about women doing masculine poses? Simple: in society it just isn't as funny to make fun of men.

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6 comments

  1. Yes. Thank YOU! This is driving me nuts this year && honestly offends me. Fall is my favorite time of year, yes I love pumpkin spice everything, yes I love B&BW candles... I ALWAYS HAVE. This whole "Basic Bitch" thing is borderline ruining the season for me, and THAT pisses me off.

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  2. UGH! I SO agree with you! Like is being a Basic Bitch a bad thing? I read that article and I was like... Am I supposed to be offended? Or proud of the things I relate to? UGH UGH UGH. Dislike.

    I'm posting a nice feminist ranty bit on the blog tomorrow... Unrelated to this, but it seemed funny we both were thinking about it right now. :)

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    1. I will look out for it!

      I know, I feel like it is taking the fun out of the holiday season since it's now "super basic" to even like it?!

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  3. Yep. This, exactly. Thank you!
    As a gal who works in marketing, seeing anyone make fun of the fact that our deeply researched investment is successful is like watching a teenage boy explain why showing any hint of human emotion makes you uncool.
    The biggest problem is that, in order for it to be balanced, there would have to be an equally insulting article about men- BUT if that were made by women, they'd be labeled as man-hating feminazis. Because a woman being scathing is clearly gender-based rage, but a man being scathing is just funny. So it would be best if we could stop basing humor on assumptions of gender at all- insulting 50% of the population does not, in fact, make anyone funny.

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  4. I had not heard the term "basic bitch" before reading this post, but yes, it offends me. I don't know care if I am the "typical white girl," if I turn that around on any other group or race, I would be considered offensive.

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