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Man, life. It throws you all kinds of annoying curveballs, doesn’t it? One moment you’re minding your own business, and the next, someone’s calling you a basic b*tch.

“Excuse me?

“No, really,” says my friend. “Read this article. It’s about you.”

Hi, my name is Min Yan and I listen exclusively to Top 40s hits, wear high-street labels, and consider Friends the greatest TV show ever created. And if that particular Elite Daily article is to be believed, these are the characteristics of a basic b*tch. But because I’m a proper journalist who checks multiple sources for accuracy, I go on a Google spree.

And there it is, web page after web page listing all the different ways that constitute being “basic”. Urban Dictionary defines it as someone “who is unflinchingly upholding of the status quo and stereotypes of [his/her] gender without even realising it”; Elite Daily listed 33 ways; Buzzfeed has a checklist of 119 things to gauge just how “basic” you are – these are just three of many hits, all of which range in tones of derision.

Naturally, the knee-jerk reaction is to deny it vehemently: “I’m not like these girls!” Then I realise, so what if I am? These articles – besides agreeing that, for some reason, liking Pumpkin Spice Latte, Sex and the City, and margaritas are the core defining features of a basic b*tch – all have wildly different opinions on what truly constitutes being “basic”.

These range from the understandable (“You feel that Twilight is an important love story”) and the subjective (“You can’t get enough of Love Actually”) to the downright bizarre (“You like going for brunch” – who doesn’t?!). In a nutshell, nobody really has a clue what being “basic” means and yet, somehow, everyone collectively decides to put an arbitrary limitation on the things women like and do. The message: Conform to our illogical standards, or be shamed. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t poke fun at bad taste (because Twilight is indeed terrible), but dismissing these things just because they’re popular among many women is sexist. Let me put it this way: How many times have you heard someone refuse to watch a chick flick because it’s “a silly girl movie”? Or opted not to order a cocktail because “it’s a girlie drink”? Not liking cheesy romcoms or sweet drinks is all a matter of taste – how did it become tagged to gender?

You know what the worst part is? Not being stereotypically “basic” (read: girlie) doesn’t win you any points either. Ask any female football fan what happens when she tries to have a real conversation with guys about the game – oh, if only I had a dollar every time someone questioned if I watch it for the game or “just for Ronaldo”.

What exactly are we supposed to like, then? If you conform to the status quo, you’re a basic b*tch. If you don’t, your interests and hobbies are dismissed all the same. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place!

So here’s what I think: Let’s own the term. The next time someone calls you “basic”, thank him or her for suggesting that you’re well versed in popular culture. If even the people who came up with the term can’t agree on what it really means, then I say go ahead and own whatever you choose to like. You can’t please the whole world – and that’s a basic fact!

This story was first published in HerWorld Magazine June 2015.

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