College Students: It’s Sexist to Shame Women for Being Basic

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By Jillian Kay Melchior | 12:33 pm, April 21, 2017
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A Willamette University student has penned a spirited defense of her love of Starbucks, pink leggings and makeup. It’s not only wrong for people to shame her for being “unoriginal and potentially fake”—it’s sexist, she argues in an op-ed for USA Today College.

Basic shaming “comes from the idea that being interested in typically feminine things is bad,” writes Madelyn Jones. “Society’s ingrained misogyny teaches us to criticize women’s actions and decisions more than men’s, and basic shaming is a result of this mindset.”

Jones claims that the word “basic,” itself usually “a gendered term” that is commonly used as “a way to put down women for enjoying typically feminine things.”

Instead of shaming other women as basic, feminists should encourage women to enjoy whatever they want, even if it’s mainstream, she says.

Jones isn’t the only one making this argument. Speaking of being “unoriginal and fake,” SUNY Plattsburgh student Laura Schmidt also “wrote” an op-ed that partially plagiarizes Jones’ piece, following the same (basic) structure and making the same (basic) points.

Schmidt’s article ran six days after Jones’ op-ed appeared in USA Today College, and weeks after it was originally published in the Willamette University student newspaper.

Schmidt does add a few jewels of her own in between paraphrasing whole paragraphs from Jones’ op-ed. For instance, women should be free to Instagram a mirror selfie without feeling “unoriginal and lame,” she says. And men should be able to order an Angry Orchard instead of a Bud Light without risking the mockery of their friends.

“I thought society’s general job was to shame the people who went against the crowd, not the people who keep up with the new trends,” wrote Schmidt. “These trend-followers aren’t hurting anybody, so what’s the point of making fun of them?”

Basic shaming can be unfair, offensive, hurtful, and an act of stereotyping, she writes.

“Practice being a more tolerant person, and hold your tongue the next time your friend rolls up with a grande frappuccino and Pink yoga pants on,” Schmidt concludes.

If standing up to societal woes like “basic shaming” is now a priority, maybe feminists should pack their paisley-print Vera Bradley bags and go home. We disagree that “basic shaming” is a noteworthy phenomenon or even a thing, much less a sexist thing. But plagiarism is intolerable. Writing should be original, even if your wardrobe and affinity for pumpkin spice lattes isn’t.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.