Essay / Teagan Cook

On the Plight of the Basic Bitch

basic

I recently left the Stone Age. A few weeks ago, I got a real, honest-to-goodness smartphone, and after dropping nearly three hundred dollars on the thing, I figured I might as well drop another twenty and get an Otter Box for it. My friends told me they were good for the price and did a decent job of keeping the phone from breaking if you dropped it. Being the clumsiest person I know, I figured it was a good investment. I tugged and pinched and shoved the case on and went over to my boyfriend’s place.

He let me in and asked me to sit down—he said he was finishing up a project, that he’d only be a couple minutes. That was fine. I could entertain myself, I figured, and pulled the brand new phone out of my pocket to kill time on social media. He looked over and laughed.

“What?”

“It’s pink!”

“Hey, fuck off,” I replied. “I like pink.” Determined to ignore him, I set about installing Instagram, convinced that I appeared calm, cool, modern; the female James Dean of 2015.

He just laughed again. “If I saw that on the street, I’d look around for the nearest girl with Uggs to give it back to.”

“Uggs? A pink phone case equals Uggs?”

“No, a pink Otter Box equals basic bitch, which equals Uggs.”

I flipped him off and took a selfie.

The basic bitch is a girl we all know. The basic bitch is not, in fact, a bitch; the basic bitch is usually sweet. She smiles a lot and takes a bunch of selfies. Her hair is straight, and she smells like Bath and Body Works (but not in the overwhelming way that happens when you actually walk into the store). Her phone is probably an iPhone but it may be a new Android, and it definitely has an Otter Box—either purple or pink. She has a bottle of argan oil next to her sink, she probably has at least one of the Naked palettes, and she wears winged eyeliner to the gym. The basic bitch has a lot of friends, and most of her tweets are about hanging out with them. The basic bitch probably drinks, but rarely drinks too much. She might smoke weed on occasion, but you’d never call her a stoner. The basic bitch is well-rounded. She is friendly and attractive and manages her schoolwork well enough to have plenty of time to be social. The basic bitch usually has a job to fund her hobbies and a car to get to her friends’ houses.

So in truth, the basic bitch is neither basic, given the sheer volume of accessories she has, nor a bitch, given that being a social butterfly is a requirement. Why, then, do we feel the need to call her out on whatever it is we’re calling her out on? Is this hate of happy, social women a product of envy? Is it the toxic waste of misogyny, internalized or externalized? Does our cultural need for the term “basic bitch” say more about our need to categorize, or about our need to invalidate women’s choices? Does wearing Uggs and having an Otter Box genuinely lower someone’s value to the point where we need to denigrate them by calling them a bitch, or are we just assholes? (Spoiler alert: it’s the latter.)

“Basic bitch” is maybe two years old and it’s already antiquated. It’s old. I’m done hearing it and I’m done saying it. I don’t know about you, but I’m done telling women that being social and liking makeup makes them lesser. I’m done telling women that being feminine makes them dumb and that extroversion means they’re a bitch. Go forth, ladies. Make friends. Tweet at them. Post your selfies on Instagram and I’ll like them—you’re right, your brows are on point. That Snap is gorgeous.

Party on, girls. It doesn’t make you lesser, it makes you fun.

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