It all started in Walgreens last week while I waited in line to buy Vaseline for my dry eyes. The girl in front of me was yapping into the phone about this girl in her anthro class who always wears sweatpants with “JUICY” plastered all shiny on the butt. “She’s such a basic bitch,” she said and laughed. Her friend’s laugh cackled through the speaker.

Yardain Amron

I had heard the label around the block, but never gave it too much thought; a Basic Bitch was just one of those silly slang monikers trending these days — like ‘Flapper’ did in the ‘20s, or ‘Valley Girl’ in the ‘80s (thank you Google). But as I smeared fresh Vaseline over my eyes that night as per usual, my mind was filled with Basic Bitch thoughts — I mean … shit … thoughts about Basic Bitches. Let’s just say I had a weird Fall Break …

Using a godly tool called Google Advanced Search, I traced the etymological roots of Basic Bitch back to its origin. As far as I can tell, the first reference is an August 2009 YouTube bathroom rant by a Black comedian stage-named Spoken Reasons. For almost three minutes, the then-21-year-old offers a frustratingly specific list of ostensive definitions for a Basic Bitch — all while he is crouching on the toilet. Like: “if you bend yo ass over in all yo pictures just to make it a lil bigger knowin you ain’t got one, you a basic bitch.
Or
if you sing any Beyoncé song all day erryday, somethin’ like “upgrade” and ain’t nothin upgraded about you since high school in ‘92 … u a basic bitch.” (Transcription credited to urbandictionary-wonder “thekaytwo”).

Some definitions made me laugh and more drew the feminist out in me. But I still couldn’t picture her exactly, that quintessential Basic Bitch.

Then during the game on Saturday, a girl I didn’t know walked through my living room wearing a blue tutu. Because I plan to make use of a tutu in my Halloween costume, I asked her where she got it. She said, “MDen,” and I didn’t hear her right and said something stupid like, “What’s Mdone?” and then she said, “Yeah, I know, I’m a basic bitch.” She walked out before I could say anything.

I felt kinda bad, but then realized this was a semi-breakthrough: If Basic Bitches shop at MDen, and the opposite of MDen is like a thrift shop, and thrift shops are for Indies (and Hipsters trying to be Indies, but no one likes those kids so who cares), and Indies are non-conforming non-conformists — then Basic Bitches are “… unflinchingly upholding of the status quo and stereotypes of their gender without even realizing it.” (Fifth definition credited to the other-urbandictionary-wonder “Cee Gee”).

Ergo, tutu-girl was by definition not a Basic Bitch in view of the fact that Basic Bitches never call themselves Basic Bitches. It’s like The Game, you know, that we all played back in middle school; once you think about The Game you lose.

Some crude amount of Vaseline later, I hit more gold. College Humor had directly solved my problem six months ago with the gem: “How To Tell If You’re A Basic Bitch.” I learned that Basic Bitches “experiment with North Face,” “have full-blown ‘Sex and the City’ brunches” and are “into scented candles” (among other things).

It was at this point that I finally realized how late to the game I was. A good chunk of my audience would probably already know everything I just wrote. But, I wasn’t about to just scrap this whole column because I’m not up to date or whatever.

So I went looking for some significance in all this Basic Bitch business. Like: Why has the term blown up just recently? Or, why does it seem women use the term more than men? Aren’t its inherent misogynistic and sexist undertones obvious? Or, can men also be Basic Bitches? And if not, is there a male equivalent to the phrase? And if not, can someone think of one please and make a video about it? Pleeease.

But all those questions feel too heavy, so I’ll just leave them there. Sure, most girls would probably never want to be called a Basic Bitch. But there’s something about the phrase that I just can’t take seriously, something cheeky about the way Walgreens-girl and tutu-girl said it. The phrase is too silly. That quintessential Basic Bitch that I was looking for — she’s the stereotype of a stereotype, the Basic Basic Bitch.

We all generalize each other to make sense of this ridiculously complex planet. And that’s OK to an extent, if we didn’t, we would still be drooling toddlers. But there’s something condescending about the way Basic Bitch is thrown around by people, like s/he doing the throwing actually thinks s/he’s better than the Basic Bitch just named, when actually s/he’s just being extremely simple-minded, and, well, basic. Come on, can’t you think of something more original? Maybe the most Basic of Bitches is actually s/he who calls others Basic Bitches. Whoa, I need more Vaseline — my eyes are crusty.

Yardain Amron can be reached at amron@umich.edu.

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