I recently had a conversation with lady friends about the term “basic bitch”.
It took us about 10 minutes to try to explain it to one another and another 20 to to conclude that t’s a dangerous term to use. In 30 minutes, we realized that the best definition of basic bitch is as follows:
"Basic bitch is a term used by self-proclaimed intellectuals, feminists, or conscious-identified folks who normally don’t refer to women as ‘bitches’ (because it’s derogatory) but calling someone ‘basic’ or ‘basic bitch’ makes it okay to use (or assume) calling a woman a ‘bitch.’"
After our conversation, I thought more and more about “basic bitches” (I was not happy about Kreyshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” playing in my head on a loop: “One big room full of bad bitches / Gucci Gucci Fendi Fendi Louie Louie Prada / Basic bitches wear that shit so I don’t even bother”) If there’s one thing I agree with Kreayshawn with it’s my apathy and indifference for designer brands. Putting down women or people who make the choice (conscious or unconscious) to wear designer apparel does not do me any favors, but instead would be a huge waste of my time and energy and mental health.
As Weekend 1 of Coachella wraps up and I scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds featuring the occasional mostly drunk white people misappropriating cultures in the name of music, I decide to dig deeper on this “basic bitch” business and run into Noisey’s Kayla Monetta’s very own Basic Bitches’ Guide to Coachella 2014:
If you’re a basic bitch, you LITERALLY LIVE for Coachella. You’ve been shopping on Nasty Gal for like, the past three months and have a shit ton of neon crop tops and probably a shirt that says “90s” on it with a yin-yang or a pizza. Basic bitches love music, but they love music festivals even more because DRUNK! SUN! INSTAGRAM! DANCING!
This is the Basic Bitches guide to Coachella 2014!
So is it a negative term to call womyn or one that is being reclaimed and embraced? It gets complicated. Jezebel’s Madeleine Davies claims that white people are ruining the term Basic Bitch:
The other day, I walked into one of my neighborhood’s relatively new-ish juice places (there are several) to order a smoothie. It was a good decision. The smoothie I ordered was so delicious that as I walked down the block drinking it, I actually wondered why people ever eat anything else.
"There should be a meal plan where this is all you ever ingest," I thought to myself. Yes, in my own sweet and simple way, I had just invented the juice cleanse. You’re welcome, Gwyneth.
But then I had another thought that stopped me dead in my tracks: “Am I …#basic?”
I texted a friend: “Do you think I’m basic?” She replied no, but it was too late. Thinking makes it so. I was — I BECAME, I am — a very basic bitch.
I refuse to give any more press to the men who call womyn “basic bitches”, because they get enough of it, those privileged fucks.
The real threat here is a new wave of lady-to-lady hate and aggression and how putting the “basic” in front of the “bitch” makes it okay for even self-identified feminists to employ it. First came sluts, then came basic.
Before I continue, I needed to find out if my interests/identity would narrow me down to basic bitch according to today’s pop culture:
Chicago Now’s LindsayM provides a handy little quiz where you can find out if you are a basic bitch or not:
If you are unsure where exactly you fit on the Bitchter Scale, take a look, you might be basic if:
1. You think your life is sex and the city. It’s not, don’t pretend it is, it’s not.
Nope, Sex and the City is a Premium Channel mythical story that I could never ever relate to no matter how hard I’d try.
2. You prefer a trolley bus over a night at the club most nights.
Does she mean “party bus”? I don’t know what “trolley bus” means in this context so I’m assuming this doesn’t apply to me either.
3. You tweet the absolute most basic things “11:11 Make a wish!, Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ve never been hurt, sing like no one is listening, and live as though heavens on earth.” How about you silence yourself like no ones told you to shut up.
"Bro, it’s getting gay."— Claudia Alvarado (@claudzillah) November 3, 2013
A commentary on hypermasculinity and homophobia in 140 characters or less, so shallow it’s deep.
4. You get a sixer of wine coolers to pregame.
More like Hornitos or Corralejo reposado (when I’m on a budget, if not Herradura is more like it) I am sooo one-of-a-kind…
5. You beg celebrities for a RT or follow (what does that do for your life?)
George Lopez retweeted me once, we bonded over our dislike for Erick Estrada in 140 characters or less
6. Shameless selfies. Everyday.
1/2 a point, plead guilty of occasional selfies
7. All you listen to and claim you vibe to is the Top 40 on the radio.
I listen to Top 40, not by choice
8. Coach bags.
My non-profit salary could not grant me that allowance, but it works out because Coach does not address my aesthetic or practical needs
9. Claiming your boyfriend is “the greatest boyfriend evvvaaaa!” On Valentine’s Day even though we all know you bitch about him the other 364 days out of the year and everyone knows he cheats on you.
He is, but he can be a real shit sometimes, just like everyone else. I really hope he doesn’t cheat on me, that would really suck.
10. If you say YOLO in a non joking, legitimately serious way.
11. Yoga pants more than twice a week. Yoga pants are the greatest thing since sliced bread, but let’s not forget there are other pants that need attending to.
Yoga pants are great for yoga. Other than that, I work with kids, I’ll spare them the visible granny panty line.
12. You don’t pay attention to your eyebrows. PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR EYEBROWS.
I pay too much attention to my eyebrows and when I don’t, someone in my family will pin me down to pluck them when I come visit #Mexicana
13. “I don’t do drama.” Oh honey, you do drama. You do it all day long.
I do talk about and address my drama with myself and loved ones and give myself the space to process with my therapist.
14. You idolize Taylor Swift.
15. Your Tiffany Sterling Heart Tag Toggle necklace from 2005 is still displayed on your neck.
16. You’re a band wagon sports fan. One Stanley cup win in 2010 and suddenly @DrunkKane has 7k followers.
17. You are not making any daring outfit/accessory choices.
18. You pimp out cars such as Sunfire, Civic, or Neon.
I’m thinking of pimping out the mileage on my Prius to earn extra money on Lyft
19. You update social media on Saturday with BLACKIN OUT TONIGHT, LETS GET IT POPPIN, and then updating quotes from the bible on Sunday. “Thinkin’ singin on Sunday gonna save his soul, now that Saturday is gone.”
What’s “the bible”?
20. Drink pumpkin spice lattes when you DON’T EVEN LIKE THEM.
My brain hurts…what was the question? A beverage choice? Really?
21. Snap pics of your meals daily. Your lunch isn’t THAT visually stimulating. Cool it on the uploads.
Too busy eating…what’s an iPhone?
22. Being rude unwarranted. Especially when your wearing matronly clothes when your in your young twentys. See example:
Actual text from last night. This Basic shoved my friend who was working at the venue.
I’m dying…slowly and painfully.
23. You think Wrigleyville is the end all be all most fabulous night out destination of Chicago….psh, man, you already know.
Not in Chicago, wait is there a Basic Bitch quiz specific to my city? I hope not.
24. Your pregame music includes something along the lines of “John Mayer Pandora.” Unless this is an intimate gathering or a potluck dinner then change it to something with a little more OOMPH. (or mmmce, mmce.)
Insert gun emoji adjacent to face emoji
25. You go out before the sun is down. You are home by 12:30.
Does it fucking matter?
26. Wearing flats to a club with a bandage dress. Unless your ankle is fractured and physically dangling from your tibia, suit up.
Again, does this fucking matter?
A Basic Bitch is one who likes what everyone else likes, because they think it’s cool to like what everyone else likes. A Basic Bitch is a manipulated pawn of media and everything advertisers want you to be. You are a marketers DREAM. Sure, some bad bitches have basic tendencies, don’t get it twisted, but having majority of those listed qualities, qualifies you as a BASIC.
Let me resuscitate my soul for a minute…
Womyn and pop culture have becomed OBSESSED with defining and policing basic-ness. It’s so conflicting because yeah, fuck corporations and fuck capitalism and fuck pumpkin spice lattes and John Mayer but do I need to put other womyn down to establish being a contrast to the loathed “basic bitch”, bad bitch/boss bitch? Must I choose a type of bitch? What if I don’t identify as any type of bitch?
As a Chicana, I’ve lived with bell hooks’ kind of “Killing Rage” towards all the white people who have treated me like a piece of shit and enjoyed many privileges I never will. As I began to address my own craziness and mental health, I learned that being angry at those who have wronged me is not going to make me any better. Sure, I get pretty fucking irate when I see another white girl wearing a huipil, am I going to rip it off her back and spit on her for misappropriating my beautiful culture? No, cuz my ass will get thrown in jail for assault. Will I stop enjoying my beer and glare at her all fucking night? No, because her whiteness is part of a bigger systematic problem beyond her unaware ass and that isn’t even worth my fucking beer and friends sitting in front of me. Same goes to these self-proclaimed and accused “basic bitches”, do I need to call other womyn basic? No, because their taste, although mainstream capitalist-endorsing and different than mine does not make me a better womyn.
I used to highly participate in this differentiation of “Us vs. Them” as a coping mechanism. Because I was always the awkward nerdy girl before awkward and nerdy were considered acceptable. Because I was not white enough, or blonde enough, or because I didn’t wear “cool expensive clothes” and because I never drew much male attention and because I’m invisible and people don’t move out of the way in a crowded place after I say “excuse me”. Instead of channeling my anger towards other womyn and continuing this never-ending cycle of lady-to-lady hate bullshit, I decided to look within myself and address what the fuck is really going on.
Having a college degree and drinking craft beer does not make me better than someone who took a different course in their life. It is not fair for any two human beings to compare themselves to one another because our paths are unique. If there’s anything I’ve learned about working on my own mental health, figuring out why I’m so angry and striving towards real and meaningful relationships with those around me is to be empathic towards myself and towards others regardless of how different we are.
To clarify, I am not compromising myself for others, but I am able to have meaningful conversations with them, and recognizing when to let go when the other person(s) isn’t/aren’t willing to hear me out. I’ve learned that always having my guard up because I have been hurt and wronged so much has kept me from having potentially awesome friendships with people I never even gave a chance to.
That being said, people can be wack, real fucking wack. But that doesn’t make me a better person. And I won’t truly know if they really are wack, if I refuse to give them the time simply because I don’t agree with something as shallow as music taste or because they religiously attend Coachella. As womyn we still need solidarity with one another and no womyn should be dismissed as “basic” because of who she is on the outside. I believe that we should uplift each other and create a culture where we just fucking stop putting each other down.
Who the fuck are we to tell teenage girls to stop being jerks to each other when we do the same shit as grown-ass ladies?