I have not ordered a pumpkin spice latte in years. Every time fall arrives and Starbucks releases one of its most popular drinks, I make sure to never order it. I don’t avoid pumpkin spice lattes because I think I won’t enjoy the warm drink filled with fall spices, creamy milk and happiness; nor do I even object to the nearly $4 price tag. I have not had a pumpkin spice latte since I learned that the drink was associated with being “basic.”
Pumpkin spice lattes, I learned around eighth grade, are the hallmark of a “basic bitch.”
“Basics” are one-dimensional. They enjoy anything with pumpkin spice (lattes, cakes, cookies, candles, etc.), baking, frozen yogurt and Instagram. They enjoy saying, “can’t even,” and fall is their favorite season.
Being “basic” is meant to essentially describe a white, vapid, 20-something-year-old girl.
That was not me. And, drinking a pumpkin spice latte would prove in my mind that I somehow was vapid. It would, at the minimum, give others the right to believe that I was.
It wasn’t until a recent article I read in The Huffington Post by Aria Bendix called, “Don’t Call Me a Basic B*tch — I Can Love Pumpkin Spice Lattes and Still Be Extraordinary,” that I realized the backwardness of this concept. It’s messed up! I was so scared of the power of the word “basic” that I was altering my actions to avoid “basic-ness.” The article made me understand that exhibiting the characteristics of a “basic bitch” is not wrong, but that the use of the term itself is wrong.
I know that the word “basic” is meant to be lighthearted. I have scrolled through BuzzFeed articles and Instagram posts that humorously point out people or things that are “basic.” But, the term is inherently offensive. “Basic bitch” represents the idea that certain things can undermine the character of a woman.
When men call women “basic,” they are acting in accordance with a hierarchy that allows men to put down women without retribution. Only women can be “basic,” that’s why the equally offensive word “bitch” is often attached. But, double standards enforce that if a man were to order a pumpkin spice latte, he would never be called “basic.”
The oppression of women by men aside this phrase is more often used by women to judge and put down other women. Calling someone a “basic bitch” furthers cattiness among women and ultimately allows the idea that material preferences can somehow define a woman. This phrase perpetuates the idea that things women delight in, such as froyo and Instagram, cheapen a woman’s character.
Girls should not have to excuse themselves by saying, “I know it’s basic but ... ” before saying that they enjoy the fall.
In her article, Aria Bendix wrote, “It is possible for me to love apple picking and pumpkin spice lattes and still remain the distinct, multi-faceted human being that I believe myself to be.”
We do not have to limit our enjoyments in order to develop our characters as multi-faceted people. As young adults, we should be celebrating and maturing our sense of self without fear of pejorative words flattening our character and self-esteem.
Calling a woman “basic” is an insult. To both women and men on our campus, be mindful that that phrase can be belittling. So, please don’t call women “basic.” Just let us enjoy our lattes.