“basic bitch”: the link between sexism and consumerism?

I would be interested to hear people’s opinions on the following article:


Excerpt (emphasis mine):

It seems to me that while what it pretends to criticize is unoriginality of thought and action, most of what basic actually seeks to dismiss is consumption patterns — what you watch, what you drink, what you wear, and what you buy — without dismissing consumption itself. The basic girl’s sin isn’t liking to shop, it’s cluelessly lusting after the wrong brands, the ones that announce themselves loudly and have shareholders they need to satisfy. (The right brands are much more expensive and subtle and, usually, privately owned.)


The word basic has become an increasingly expansive stand-in for “woman who fails to surprise us,” as seen in this Vice tournament of basic bitches that includes Gwyneth Paltrow and Mother Teresa and Shirley Temple and both Michelle Williamses, among others. And so the woman who calls another woman basic ends up implicitly endorsing two things she probably wouldn’t sign up for if they were spelled out for her: a male hierarchy of culture, and the belief that the self is an essentially surface-level formation.

Do we have a similar kind of insult for men? “Preppy,” “douchey,” “fratty”? Are the dynamics the same? As people, we love the convenience of classifying people into conveniently insultable archetypes–what makes “basic bitch” any more sexist than “douchebag” or “neckbeard”?

One thought on ““basic bitch”: the link between sexism and consumerism?

  1. This is definitely a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot. I found some more “definitions” here: http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/basic-class-anxiety

    and thought it was interesting to read about the history of the word “basic”, (which has apparently been around for awhile) as well as a view that doesn’t limit the adjective to a particular age range : “A grandma who shops at Costco, reads Parade, and loves Folgers is, then, just her generation’s version of predictable consumerism. In the ‘50s, basics were called “men in the gray flannel suit”; in the ‘20s, they were “Babbits.” Back then, the object of anxiety was men’s patterns of consumption, in part because men were still the primary consumers, even for the home; today, women aren’t just consuming more, they are consuming more visibly — which is part of why they’ve become the locus of this generation’s critique. That’s how “basic” is used today: as a means for people anxious about their position within both the purchasing and cultural currency to denigrate the purchasing and cultural habits of others.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s