Why we need to retire the term "basic" once and for all
“You’re the most basic, basic girl to ever basic. Ever.”
Disregarding the horrendous use of an adjective as a verb, I’ll give you some context. This was said by a friend, strangely enough. It was fuzzy whether it was a term of endearment or a passive-aggressive shade throwing. It’s strange, the way the human language evolves and is used. If you had called someone basic twenty or so years ago, they would probably just thing you were calling them simple. If a friend calls you basic, it’s cute. If someone you don’t know calls you basic, it’s an insult.
So, what is considered basic, in this day and age? According to BuzzFeed, Pumpkin Spice Lattes in the fall and Instagram filters are basic. According to the Phoenix New Times, liking Paris and listening to Taylor Swift are the damning evidence. And lastly, according to Total Sorority Move, being named anything from Stephanie to Regina is proof of one’s basicness.
Let’s boil this down to what I’ve deduced: Enjoying mildly popular things while being female is now a crime.
We’ve all had a laugh or two by calling others basic, but it’s a struggle to stay positive when you force yourself to discover the nuances of what seems like innocent everyday discourse. Calling someone basic is different from a regular insult. You can always brush it off as a joke, as my aforementioned friend did, even if it was meant to be malicious and ended up hurting the other person. It’s a passive aggression specialist’s dream.
However, I think the most interesting part of this phenomenon is how gender specific it is. If you Googled “basic girl,” you would get around 217,000 hits. For “basic guy,” it’s only around 44,000. Our quickly moving social spheres are so quick to condemn things that are popular among girls as basic, while things that are traditionally more liked by guys, like video games or football, are considered the norm, something that girls could never understand.
Apparently, by enjoying something that other people enjoy, I’ve been reduced to a simplistic little girl. In my opinion, this is inherently wrong, because no matter what they enjoy, all people are complex and intriguing beings. Especially towards females, a group that has been institutionally discriminated against for all of civilization for being less intelligent or sophisticated by their male counterparts, this is harmful to all the progress we have made through social justice and civil rights movements.
The worst part is that us girls are doing this to each other.
As a firm believer in the covenant of the sisterhood, I hold fast to the idea that as a group of people who have oft been grouped together and been treated like, for lack of a better word, crap, we should help out one another. This essentially means that the girl hate has to stop.
Yes, dear reader, this means that I’m calling you out. I guess I’m calling myself out, in effect, for I too have found myself guilty for calling a fellow female basic based on her love of pastel and monograms.
Though I am treading lightly in fear of sounding too preachy, I call on you, all of you, to not degrade your fellow humans by taking away their beautiful complications or their stunning details. Let’s not condemn others for simply enjoying things and instead band together and call each other what we really are: complex.
Laurie Chan Yousman enjoys pretending to know how to play guitar, bubble tea, and photography. She always writes her middle name because it’s her mother’s maiden name and she thinks she deserves a bit of an homage of birthing her and all. She’s half Chinese and half Jewish, and her life is comprised of balancing between two polar opposites. Even though she hasn’t mastered living this life, she hopes that she’s gotten pretty good at writing about it. You can encourage her photography and guitar habits at lcyphotos.tumblr.com, laurie.chan on Instagram, and youtube.com/shipssailing.
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