Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Basic Bitch

The Basic Bitch is having an internet moment.

It's a criticism leveled at women and women only. One we're supposed to be cool enough to laugh about because, you know, everyone's just kidding and geez why do we have to take things so seriously!?!

 Being "Basic", in case you haven't heard, is based on female consumption choices. And while the trope to the right is slightly amusing, it also strikes a nerve with me because it's one more mainstream weapon in the mass artillery that pits woman against woman.

The typical Basic Bitch is someone with long hair, at least shoulder length. She gets excited about Pumpkin Spice Latte season. That's a consistent theme, as is yoga. Sometimes she wears Uggs and often she's blonde. It's entirely possible she still sleeps in her sorority letters t-shirt that she pairs with jewel tone underwear from Victoria's Secret.

To me the Basic Bitch is the opposite of the Cool Girl as defined by Gillian Flynn in Gone Girl.
Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Gillian Flynn's character goes on to say the problem with the Cool Girl is she doesn't exist. She's a trope. A creation no different than the Rules Girls who wait two days (I think, although I'm not entirely sure, having never been good at following any rules) to return phone calls.

My biggest problem with all these definitions foisted upon the female existence is their divide and conquer mentality. It's like high school on the internet.

The categories actively encourage us to dismiss women who makes choices that aren't as cool as ours. As in "OMG, she's so Basic! Why even bother?" But, hold on, I can still wrinkle my nose at the Cool Girl because, really, don't all her shenanigans amount to just trying too hard? Don't even get me started on those Rules Girls. They're so disingenuous!

These definitions allow us to write each other off while simultaneously reconfirming our superiority. Is that healthy? Is that really what people need to walk through this world? And isn't the need to shove womankind into prepackaged categories, well, a little Basic in and of itself?

As for me, I indulge in my love of yoga, food on sticks and although sometimes I don't return phone calls, it's usually just because I had a busy day.

Most of the women I know defy easy categorization. They're varied, unique and interesting in a way that has nothing to do with how they interact with consumer culture and everything to do with how they think.

I suppose if I wanted to, I could slap a label on the women I meet based on their love of lattes, reproductive decisions or predilection for poker, but then the loss would truly be mine.

And given all I have to gain from the treasure trove that is womankind, that's not a loss I'm willing to take.


D.G. Hudson said...

It's like high school on the internet. Such an apt description.

Joanne Noragon said...

I wonder if preconception will ever stop. It's marginally useful, but stultifies life in the end.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

High school on the Internet - you nailed it.
We lose a lot when we prejudge.
And I've never heard that expression befOre.

A Beer for the Shower said...

I didn't think basic by itself had a female connotation. I thought it was just anyone who liked really bland, obvious, stupid things, and was uninteresting (basic) because of it.

As for the full term, though, it's just another stupid way to categorize people that isn't worth thinking about. Labeling people is incredibly "basic."

dolorah said...

Women have evolved into "themselves"; unique people with a wide range of likes and dislikes and styles and of course, personalities. Some people are threatened by our independence.

This was a good topic to spotlight Johanna.

T. L. Cooper said...

Johanna, I share your frustration with marginalizing memes intended to create mass consumption of mass judgment... There's so much more to life than some silly meme reducing people to stereotypes and labels that often have nothing to do with anyone's reality...

Shell Flower said...

I love that "high school on the internet" comment. Sad how that clique-y nature exists past our teenage years sometimes. I've never even heard of a basic bitch, but if long hair and yoga define her, she's everywhere in my town, but then again so is the cool girl. Anyone who actually grew up after high school should realize that those kind of labels are BS.

I really do think I'm doing Nano, and I'll probably meet your friend. It's not Cory/San is it? He's one of the MLs and is in my writing group.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Sigh. I'm so out of it. I didn't know "Basic" was a thing. I'm glad I read blogs to learn these things.

I just asked my teenage daughters and got the "You are so stupid" look from my 14 year-old. She said, "Girls who like pumpkin latte and boys who wear socks pulled up to their knees."

Okay then.

Diana Wilder said...

I wonder if the stereotypes are a subconscious way of taking the mystery and beauty of every person and making it something less threatening and easier to handle since it's pigeonholed. Hm. Something to consider. said...

Excellent writing and argument, Johanna. We're all sometimes cool, sometimes (when necessary) bitchy, sometimes...a never ending list of other things. Life is challenging enough, and women are still seen as second class citizens in many ways, why fight against each other? It's petty and so not cool.


Nas said...

Liked how you describe it. You nailed it.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've never been cool, so I wouldn't know what that even feels like. as for basic, I'm not sure what that would be either.

Stereotypes give us a base to start from but it's up to us to discover more beyond that.

Stephanie Faris said...

That is SO true. We're each unique in our own way. People love to place people into neat little categories because it's easier for them but in doing so, they miss the opportunity to really get to know people. It's a little sad for them, I think!

Beylit said...

The internet is high school all over again which is one of the things I dislike about it most. I have never understood the need to categorize people and define them by things as stupid as their love for all things pumpkin spice or yoga. My pumpkin spice loving friends are so varied that most of the time the only thing they have in common is their latte.
We have enough problems in the world without wasting time on hating our fellow women based on trivial nonsensical things.

Julie Flanders said...

I hadn't even heard about this expression but "high school on the internet" really sums it all up. Pitiful.

Nas said...

True post. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy prosperous New Year!

Nicki Elson said...

I don't even know which category I could be shuffled into. At the moment I guess it would be Goes Too Long Without Showering Girl.

You always give me a new angle from which to look at things (even when I'm months late reading your post). I think women are much better at devaluing women than men are.