C/O Thibault Penin
Young women are disproportionately ridiculed for their popular interests
Time and time again, we’ve heard the word “basic” being used to describe popular trends in mainstream media. Everything from Starbucks Frappuccinos to UGGs to One Direction has at least once fallen under the umbrella of being “basic.” Designating popular trends as basic has extended to an unwanted label on those who consume them.
It’s no surprise that the label of being basic falls largely on what is liked by women. I consider 2016 as the golden era of what was and is still considered to be basic. As an eighth grader at the time, I completely remember the satisfaction of buying that one dark green fall jacket with the gold buttons that everyone around me seemed to wear.
To me, buying that jacket was nothing short of an achievement as its popularity at the time truly cannot be described. Imagine my surprise when that jacket was lumped into the multitude of trends that were designated as “embarrassing” to participate in.
This notion of being undervalued as young women, especially in the context of following the status quo, wasn’t isolated to small-level interactions. Throughout history, musicians have lamented against being known as artists liked by crowds of young women.
5 Seconds of Summer is a band that rose to popularity around the same time that One Direction did. In fact, they joined the latter on multiple tours and consequently gained a fanbase that largely resembled that of One Direction’s. However, in 2014, they expressed that their credibility as a “real band” was hindered by being known as a band that was “just for girls” and revelled in the fact that they had started to gain more male fans.
It’s incredibly troubling to note that the impact of being labelled as basic has led to a perceived decline in credibility of anything with a female-majority fanbase.
While the “basic” label may have peaked in popularity in the 2010s, many other labels have come and gone that seem to only have the purpose of ridiculing women. As a reaction to the “basic” title, internalized misogyny began to manifest in the minds of many young women. Suddenly, the scales tipped in the other direction and being “not like other girls” was highly valued. The only way to gain any sort of unique identity was straying away from what we all loved just months ago.
Eventually, the story repeated itself and the label “not like other girls” began its turn in the cycle of ridiculing what girls choose to like. On TikTok, a social media platform that recently gained popularity in 2020, videos posted under #notlikeothergirls have over 85 million views with the majority of them mocking “alternative” trends enjoyed by young women.
I’m proud to admit that nearly everything I like could be considered basic. Perhaps the most basic of all is my adoration of Taylor Swift’s discography. However, it’s also gratifying to have so many interests that others can relate to when you freely accept the value of being basic.
Why wouldn’t you choose to enjoy the fact that your favourite song is also at the top of the charts in the world right now? What’s the true disadvantage of being able to see yourself in women around the world? On the other hand, if you choose to let the criticism in and affect every aspect of your life, you only compromise your own happiness.
The unfortunate observation from the persistent mockery of both being like and unlike other women has cemented the fact that we gain nothing from trying to please others. We shouldn’t view this observation as a battle we “can’t win,” but rather a battle that doesn’t need to be fought.
Immediate disdain of an entire demographic for their interests isn’t a reflection of your shortcomings, but of those who choose to make such blanket statements.
CW: Islamophobia, violence
On March 19, hundreds of students, faculty and staff filled the McMaster University Student Centre courtyard to mourn the victims of the Christchurch massacre.
The terrorist attack was committed on March 15 by a white supremacist who opened fire in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing a total of 50 people and injuring 50 others.
The attack was considered the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s recent history.
The vigil was organized by the McMaster Muslim Students Association in collaboration with the McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice and the McMaster Womanists. The three groups brought 15 speakers from various parts of the community to speak.
The vigil began with a recitation from the Quran.
In a particularly poignant moment following the recitation, the organizers honoured and read out the names of the 50 who died due to the attack.
A theme echoed throughout the vigil was that the attack reflected a larger movement of white supremacy, Islamophobia and bigotry across the globe.
“White supremacy exists, toxic masculinity exists, misogyny exists. Xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia exist. These things exist in New Zealand, in the United States. They also exist right here in Canada, in Ontario, in Hamilton,” said Khadijeh Rakie, a staff member of the McMaster Equity and Inclusion Office.
Rakie encouraged Muslim people to grieve freely.
“I don’t think our strength or grief must be looked at in one way, or need to be performative or palatable or always available for public consumption,” said Rakie.
Speakers pointed out the connection between Christchurch and the 2017 Quebec mosque attack, completed by a white supremacist, which killed six people in prayer.
“Far-right populist leaders around the world and false media narratives have stoked the fires behind the dehumanization and demonization of Muslims worldwide, causing events like the one in Christchurch,” said one student speaker.
Many speakers also expressed appreciation for other faith groups who have supported and stood in solidarity with them since the attack.
Other speakers encouraged Muslim and non-Muslims alike to actively stand against discrimination in all its forms.
“As different societies face all forms of prejudice, persecution and rhetoric against immigrants, refugees, visitors and worshippers of all kinds of faith, backgrounds, and communities, we must all stand together against all forms of violence, ignorance and hatred,” said another student speaker.
Mahmood Haddara, the president of McMaster MSA, called for compassion and unity.
“We need at times like these to build those connections with each other, to turn towards each other, to remind ourselves of that love and that connection, to look at the person next to you regardless of their skin colour or their belief and remind yourself that they are your brother or sister in humanity,” said Haddara.
Following the speeches, the organizers held an open prayer in the MUSC atrium.
Gachi Issa, one of the organizers of the vigil, said she is grateful for the support from the McMaster community and hopes the vigil will also spark discussion about discrimination and Islamophobia in Hamilton and on the McMaster campus.
“The message is first and foremost to mourn these  and counting victims in New Zealand, but it’s also to localize it,” said Issa. “The same thing that has killed them affects us here.”
Sarah O'Connor / The Silhouette
When I was little I was often at the misfortune of having burrs thrown in my hair.
There I would be, playing on the playground when some boys would run over laughing, pelting the girls with burrs as they stuck in their clothes and most importantly our hair.
We would cry whilst trying to pull the burrs out of our hair. We’d stop because of the pain. We’d run to a teacher, pointing at the boys secretly waiting for their punishment.
But the teachers would smile at us and simply say, “That just means he likes you.”
My parents thankfully thought different and would help pull the burrs from my hair, telling me to keep telling a teacher if it should happen again and if worse came to worse to tell the principal.
But like the teachers, the principal would say, “That just means he likes you.”
I never really considered how poor the teachers’ advice was until a few years ago.
Throwing burrs and small pinches are seen simply as child’s play.
It isn’t violence and the child shouldn’t be punished. It’s only a crush, that’s how little boys and girls show they like one another.
But when did violence become an acceptable excuse to show affection?
I’m sure some of you reading this think I’m over-exaggerating. They were only burrs thrown in my hair, you might say. That’s not violent; it’s child’s play.
But by accepting violence as an excuse for love, we allow ourselves to be led into abusive relationships.
By accepting violence as an excuse for love we end up believing that our spouse is just hurting us out of affection.
No one should be taught that violence against another person proves love. No one should have to feel stuck in an abusive relationship or guilted into an abusive relationship with false promises of love.
Abuse is abuse. Love is love. They are opposites and are meant to be opposites.
So to any future teachers reading this, to any future parents: if a child is upset because they have burrs in there head or because someone won’t stop pinching them don’t tell them that it just means the other person likes them. Don’t decorate the problem, fix it.