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What the hell is a basic bitch?

Apparently, I am “basic”.

When I was told this, I immediately took it as an insult. Does this mean I’m naive or dumb? Does this mean I have no depth or that I can’t make an informed argument? Is this an insinuation of intolerance?

No — it all centres on my choice of drink, television shows, and music preferences. All of that combined makes me a #basicbitch. While some are embracing this new label (because what other choice is there), I find it just as offensive as my own personal definition.

Being “basic” is slang for someone who follows trends and lacks individuality. It is a term used to describe a person — particularly white women — who enjoy seasonal drinks, chic clothes, and healthy goods. A basic bitch watches Love Actually every Christmas, gets excited for pumpkin spice lattes, can quote Friends in any conversation, wears Uggs and leggings, and shops at Whole Foods.

This term has been circulating the Internet for about a year now, and doesn’t seem to be going away. If you google it, the term is synonymous with the word “airhead”.

Now, I know I’m not an airhead. I don’t brainlessly go shopping or talk like a valley girl. I’m an editor and a writer. I am capable of talking about anything from business, law and politics to fashion, food, and design. I am tolerant, intelligent, and I have a quick wit. I enjoy listening to other people argue about topics I don’t agree with because it exposes me to new perspectives. I love going to local coffee shops, watching documentaries, and reading.

At the same time, I enjoy a good peppermint mocha and will go to a Christmas market at least three times throughout the month of December. I practice yoga twice a week. I like going to health food stores and I love my blanket scarf. Do my consumption choices or habits overweigh the other aspects of my personality? Apparently so.

Ironically, the word “basic” is a lazy insult. It requires little thought and no creativity. It’s such a blanket term that very few people actually know what it means. Calling a woman “basic” is another way of saying “I have absolutely nothing to say about you as a human being so instead I’m going to make fun of you for what you are wearing, eating, and whatever activities you are doing over the weekend.” It’s a way of making people feel ashamed of who they are without actually pinpointing why they should feel ashamed.

It also shows an incredible lack of understanding into what makes a person an individual. I think you’ll find that most people are quite complex, and that just because a woman relishes in very female (I say with rolled eyes and air quotes) activities and likes to follow certain trends, that doesn’t determine who she is.

And yet, despite these arguments, the term it’s sticking. There are hundreds of quizzes online that will help you determine how “basic” you are. People are commenting on Instagram and Facebook with things like “so basic” every time a woman posts a travel photo of herself on the beach in a bikini or tasting a novelty dessert.

To me, the term “basic” is void of any meaning. It gives people the opportunity to mock and shame women for just being themselves. And anytime women are shamed for their personalities, society loses.

Let me put it another way: call me “basic” one more time and you’ll find out exactly what kind of a bitch I can be.

Policymaking often lacks environmental accountability

We live in a world today that is experiencing an international environmental crisis, ranging from rising temperatures, melting ice caps and animal extinction, to name a few. It is paramount that policymakers take an interest in creating legislation that effectively responds to these threats. Sadly, as I sift through various environmental reports released by supposed policymakers, there remains a noticeable issue: accountability.

What exactly do the terms “conserve”, “maintain”, “protect” and “sustain” really mean? Environmental policies are replete with terminology that could be considered essentially meaningless. Reading a 100-page report that uses terms that have little scientific relevance and purpose does not inspire confidence. Without appropriate terminology, research, and data, policies carry little potential to effect real change.

If you doubt me, I will offer you a perfect example. The 20 Aichi Targets are a series of global goals put forward by the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership, a host of international organizations working towards promoting positive environmental change. The targets frequently employ language such as “safe ecological limits”, and “degradation”, but fail to reveal a quantifiable definition of the terms. What exactly constitutes degradation and at what level does that occur? What are safe ecological limits as determined by research and data, and how will these limits then be implemented to effect change? The lack of adequate terminology is a common occurrence in many policymaking reports about global change and environmental conservation and is astoundingly inappropriate considering the level of import of these policies.

The solution lies in creating stronger intercommunication between scientists and policymakers. The terminology used to understand many environmental issues needs to be simplified for people making policies, but still needs to be meaningful. In turn, policymakers need to create more accessible platforms for scientists to take part in the creation of reports containing important empirical data. By providing more concise definitions and understanding on how scientists determine how to save the planet, it can be properly translated into policies and will then be effectively accountable.

The bottom line is every person on earth has a responsibility in trying to save the planet. It is neither the scientist nor the policymaker that has the responsibility to create effective legislation to help climate change initiatives or avoid environmental degradation. Both parties play an essential role and it is about time that everyone starts working together and opening the lines of communication.

If we don’t, we are looking at our own extinction and I would personally like to leave my children with a world to live in rather than rubble and ash. Don’t you agree?