Maybe it's because I'm currently working from Los Angeles, the mecca of discriminating in the name of social demand, or maybe it's because I've heard this phrase at least a dozen plus times this week alone -- but can we talk about the term "basic b*tch," please?
This wonderfully-crafted phrase is yet another checkbox on the endless list of reasons females are told we are unworthy through some discrepancy we possess. Great, because we needed more items on this list, right?
In case you live in Mayberry, the term "basic b*tch" refers to a female who is deemed to be following trends too closely. So, now you can be ridiculed for not having enough style and for being too in-style. Logic at its finest.
What I want women to think about is this: Is there a term called "basic bro" taking over out there? Nope. Not mainstream at least. Does anyone else find that ironic?
Women, what in the hell are we doing to one another -- and why?
If there was a news story about a woman going to different park playgrounds telling all the little girls they were fat or too skinny; too dark-skinned or too pale; their clothes were embarrassingly outdated or they were "basic" because their clothes were too trendy; their idea of fun on the playground was either too weird or too boring; and was encouraging others to join in this little girl bashing rampage, we would have a nationwide hunt going down to find this playground poacher. And when we found her, she would have zero mercy. Thousands would line the streets and fashion harsh signs to picket at her trial. Newspaper and news headlines would be anything but flattering. And this woman would not only serve time, but when she got out, she'd probably never get a decent job again.
Well, guess what ladies? WE are this very woman every time we pick up a judgmental phrase and take part in critiquing one another. Not only are the women we are insulting simply grown-up versions of the playground crew, but actual little girls are watching how we, female "adults," are treating one another. Little girls don't play house, tea party or dress up because it's in their DNA, they play that way because they watch US -- what we do, how we act when we do it, what we say while doing it, etc.
When we're at the hair salon and comment on how "busted" another woman looks without makeup -- that little girl waiting on her mom to get a haircut hears that judgment and she absorbs it; thus carrying it with her through life while she is growing. The hairdresser hears that statement and now knows she is also held in that same hypercritical light and probably takes a longer look at herself in the mirror when she washes her face that night.
When we're at happy hour and talk about how a gal pal is so "lame" because she would rather work in her garden than cocktail it up, each of our friends at that table also inertly questions if their interests are viewed as lame.
When a woman in a revealing bikini walks past and comments are thrown about her "skank" status, each friend questions themselves the next time they want don a sexy look when they are feeling frisky.
What I've found through the women's workshops I've both taught and attended is 90 percent of the stories women will share revolve around feeling judged by one another. Young high school girls feel judged if they go the "good girl" route versus their friend's party path. Gals new to the "real world" have cried because they desire a less traditional path than what their mothers would have them pursue. Soon-to-be-mothers are torn up over their mother-in-law's critical eye over how she feels called to raise her children. Women struggle with feeling validated by one another if they stay at home or pursue a career in general. If you marry someone who's poor, you settled for a loser. Marry someone who's rich, and you're a gold-digger. If you're shy, you're stuck-up. If you're outgoing, you're "too much" sometimes. We are literally (as in ask your neighborhood pharmacist) driving each other either crazy or into depression.
This isn't small talk -- it's smash talk. It's not "one little comment" it's spreading a strand of a verbal virus that is killing our women from the inside, out. It is my hope that one day our social response reflex will hold a woman gossiping about another woman at the dinner table in the same repulsive light as if she were nine-months pregnant and smoking at that same table. Because it's not just unflattering, it's unhealthy.
Women often refer to the phenomenon known as "guy code." When someone is dissing or confronting one of their male peers, it's all men on deck. Guys have this "code" because they stick together. They see themselves on the same team/pack/side.
Ladies, we can share the benefits of this same comradery practice, too. If we aren't into something a fellow female is embodying, we don't have to say anything. Neutral energy is still healthy energy. A great response can be, "It's not my thing, but I'm glad it makes her happy."
Who's down for #teamXX to take over? (Feel free to get creative with other tag names social mavens). When you see a thread of judgmental comments or negative headlines regarding a fellow female on social media, use #teamXX and encourage other ladies to do the same. Imagine a society where women had each other's back -- instead of stabbing them. We create our culture. We supply the demand of what lingo is used in our magazines, media and small talk.
If any artsy gals are reading this, how about we bring a modern twist to the "We can do it" Rosie the Riveter pose but for this feminine bond mission? I truly believe we can do it - and encourage our younger female teammates to do the same.
Let the realignment experiment begin...
Kat Cowley is the author of "Week to Strong: Thought-Shifting Mental Shape-Up Plan" and a personal development women's workshop creator. To learn more, please visit www.katcowley.com.
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