Calling girls ‘basic’ isn’t harmless—it’s sexist

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Image by: Jodie Grieve

In the late 2000s, the term ‘basic’ rose to popularity to describe girls who wore Lululemon leggings, drank pumpkin spice lattes, and religiously listened to Taylor Swift. Since then, ‘basic’ girls have evolved from Ugg boots to white Air Forces, but the sexist disapproval they receive remains.

It’s time we end this chauvinistic trope and allow women to like popular things without facing unnecessary sexist criticism.

A ‘basic’ girl possesses traditionally feminine traits, engages in traditionally feminine pastimes, and desires traditionally feminine things. At its most innocent, the term describes something popular. At its most harmful, it attacks anything which captures the excitement of women and upholds the idea that traditionally masculine interests are valid, while traditionally female ones are not.

Videos of groups of female Queen’s students walking through the University District in dresses and white shoes have amassed thousands of likes and comments on Instagram page ‘Canadian Party Life.’ While the account doesn’t explicitly call the girls basic, it pokes fun at them for dressing similarly, playing into the idea that women who do so are deserving of mass ridicule.

I’ve maneuvered past countless swarms of white males in backward baseball caps, yet none have appeared on an Instagram page like this, nor been ridiculed for being ‘basic.’

Society takes pleasure in mocking women for embracing traditional femininity, yet lacks the same contempt for the male fish-holders and car lovers among us. While traditionally masculine pastimes and clothing choices are regarded as practical, traditionally feminine ones are brushed off as frivolous, allowing women and femininity to be tossed aside with them.

Calling girls ‘basic’ seems innocent, but it’s one of many ways society reduces women to their looks and it perpetuates the idea that the way a woman dresses is indicative of her character. It gives us permission to assume that because a woman dresses in a traditionally feminine way, she’s shallow, absentminded, and worthy of ridicule.

TikTok’s viral ‘hey girly’ versus ‘bruh’ girl trendis yet another example of casual sexism, as well as a blatant rejection of femininity. The trend depicts girls who possess traditionally feminine traits as boring and those who possess traditionally masculine traits as “elite,” promoting the idea that masculinity is superior to femininity and that one form of gender expression is superior to another.

This disdain isn’t toward people being basic, unoriginal, or boring, but toward women and femininity itself.

Women are scorned for liking popular things, branded “wannabe alt girls” for not ascribing to the norm, dismissed as appealing to the male gaze for enjoying traditionally masculine pastimes, and laughed at for simply walking down the street.

Belittling women for their clothing choices isn’t just unoriginal; it’s a sexist act that exacerbates gender inequality.

This one-dimensional view of femininity is tired. It’s time we shelve it away and embrace the idea that women can and should be anything they want, basic or not.

Hannah Strasdin is a third-year Psychology major and one of The Journal’s copy editors.



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