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Monday, 10 July 2017

Why has it become socially acceptable to label women as 'basic bitches'?

Over the last few years, the term 'basic bitch' seems to have sprung up and somehow become a part of popular social media culture. I have seen it over and over again in various online clips and articles, even in my Facebook feed, even in articles in my favourite magazines. Can someone please explain to me how on earth is this massively insulting and derogatory term is regarded as appropriate in the media? Seriously?

So, what is a  'basic bitch' exactly? Wikipedia, interestingly, has filed 'basic bitch' in a similar category to 'airhead'  (of course!) and defines it as:

'middle class white women who predominantly like mainstream products, trends or music.'

So what does this mean? Any western woman who follows trends is somehow a bitch?   How is this acceptable?  Aren't we just consumers who are using our hard-earned wages to purchase products that have been designed, manufactured and marketed to our needs/interests?  Does that really make us 'bitches'? Honestly?

I decided to delve deeper so I tried to find out the typical habits/symptoms of a 'basic bitch'.  The Internet responded with: women who like pumpkin spiced latte, ugg boots, scented candles, reality TV, Sex and the City,  Zumba classes, sweatpants with words on the bum, star/astrological/feather tattoos, North Face clothing and Diet Coke.

Now, confession time, I can relate to some of these likes: I like Sex and the City; I think it  empowered women to be honest about their sexuality and encouraged people to be creative with fashion. I have enjoyed going to Zumba classes for over 5 years.  I have more than one tattoo with stars and I like the smell of some scented candles.  Am I 'basic'?

But here's the thing, I've never tried pumpkin spice, I don't watch TV on a regular basis or drink fizzy drinks.   However, I have a degree in two foreign languages,  I have learnt to play the violin and have taught myself piano, guitar and ukulele to varying degrees of success. I regularly enjoy a number of sports and have participated in several races and events for charity. I have been fortunate enough to travel to and live in other countries around the world.  I donate to charity and have been a vegetarian for around 11 years now.

The point I'm trying to make here is that my choices as a consumer do not completely define me, my intelligence or my creativity. I don't think I follow trends to the letter and I haven't caught myself using derogatory terms for women that do.  I would like to think that I understand that people are individuals and truly complex beings. I would hate to be labelled as just one thing when,  in reality, my skills and interests are constantly changing and evolving.

Furthermore, why is there no male equivalent? Or if there is, why is it not as prevalent in online articles? Why has it not become as popular as the term 'basic bitch'?   Let's just take a moment to address some of the choices the Internet has decided to criticise in women...

Feather tattoos (seen here on Dave Grohl, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and producer)
Image via Pinterest
Is he a 'basic bitch' then?

Star tattoos  (seen here on David Beckham; OBE, footballer, UNICEF Ambassador, first British footballer to play 100 UEFA Champions League games)

Image via Newsround

Sex and the City (Which, by the way, won 55 awards for costume design, acting, directing and comedy, including 7 Emmys and 8 Golden Globes.)

The series featured some notable male talents:

Mikhail Baryshnikov ( often named as one of the greatest male ballet dancers in history)
Image via Ikin Dance

Matthew McConnaughey (The actor went on to star in 'Dallas Buyers Club' many years later, a role which earnt him 18 acting awards, including the Oscar for best actor.)
Image via YouTube
Are these actors really basic/simple? So why are we labelling the women who enjoy watching them?

So let's buck the trend, let's not call women 'basic' for their lifestyle choices and purchases. Let's agree that women have the right to wear whatever clothes they like and buy whatever products they want with their own money. These choices may not echo our own but they don't necessarily make women dull or unimaginative. They are choices, that is all.  In addition, let's not label these women as 'bitches'. If we really need to stick a label on people  (I say people, not only women) who follow trends religiously and who spend a lot of their money on products which they perhaps don't need/use, let's go with materialistic.

But in all honesty, aren't we all consumers to some degree? Particularly in the 'developed' countries of the western world. Couldn't the money that we spend on mobile phones/tablets/ music/
computers/monthly subscriptions/ food/alcohol be better redistributed to developing countries?

I think we all have some way to go before we are well-informed, globally-considerate consumers. Or indeed from no longer being consumers and being entirely self-sufficient.  No-one I know (including myself), is perfect in this regard.

To conclude, after considering all the information that I found,  I'm inclined to agree with one of the definitions for 'basic bitch' that I found on Urban Dictionary:

'A socially accepted way to demean and denigrate women for the choices they make.'

In fact, I would dare to say: YET ANOTHER socially accepted way to demean and denigrate women....

I could rant on how we still seem to live in a patriarchal society where women are constantly victimised and criticised for their appearance and lifestyle choices. However, I feel like there's not going to be enough room in this post!

What can you do? Stop reading articles and quizzes about 'basic bitches' and don't let this vile terminology creep into your vocabulary. Ever. Let's respect each other more.

Peebreeks xxx