A few days ago I offered unsolicited dating advice to a basic girl, in which I suggested hiding her basic-ness until she sealed the deal, same as how we guys have to hide our crazy until the same.
But is basic an acceptable term? Here, Noleen Marone with New York mag points out how basic is inherently a gendered insult, or at least semi-insult. It basically (heh, see what I did there) means a young American female with very specific and stereotypical tastes in clothing, friends, diet, Pottery Barn and, above all, Pumpkin Spice Latte.
“Basic” really is used by a put-down, most infamously by Buzzfeed recently as they were laying into it hard. And as Marone ultimately points out, it’s really an excuse to call a woman a bitch.
It’s a shame because “basic” really does describe a certain type of person. After all, we all know plenty of basic girls. And you know what? We also know plenty of basic guys.
The basic guy also is not known for noncomformity. He is always in a cap, logo T-shirt and long shorts or else jeans, depending on the weather. On his feet are either flip-flops or dad sneakers. Instead of Pumpkin Spice Latte and white wine, he is into beer, with a preferred list of microbrews he orders instead of the Bud Light he looks down on — never mind that his preferred microbrews are probably owned by the same giant corporation anyway. The basic guy will join up with his buds from college to watch the local sports team, drinking his favorite microbrew, before often having to leave early to get ready for bed. He too hates the nightclub scene, avoiding any drinking establishment that does not have multiple TVs tuned to various sports channels. He likes to tinker with manly things such as cars, although he will never be an expert at it.
He is as much into ESPN.com as his distaff counterpart is into Radar Online. The basic guy would never have an ironic handlebar mustache, instead existing somewhere in the spectrum between clean-shaven and full beard, with the goatee as an acceptable alternative. He will either have a beer tap in his man-cave, or else will want one. The biggest event of his year is the annual camping trip with his friends. And like his counterpart, he very rarely has friends of the opposite gender. The basic guy’s musical tastes are essentially frozen in time from his high school and college years. He will never wear a suit unless forced to, and will then always look uncomfortable in it. He too wants kids and a suburban home with a two-car garage, although he doesn’t express it like the basic girl does. When he has kids, he would voluntarily wear a Baby Bjorn and also buy an SUV, assuming he doesn’t already have one.
Basically, envision Darius Rucker from the ’90s band Hootie and the Blowfish and there you go: the most basic man to have ever walked the earth in a T-shirt and denim cap.
Yet these guys never really get a gendered slur, if they get a slur at all. “Dull” or “boring” are rarely used to describe them. Instead, they get described as “solid, dependable family men.” They are just as utterly predictable as basic girls, yet don’t get called out on it. People look at basic girls and laugh. People look at basic guys and simply don’t care.
So, yes. Next time a Stopera at Buzzfeed trots out the next “basic bitch” listicle, ask why you never get one for men. And maybe, the “bitch” part of the insult really is the more important word for them.