Recent years have seen Karen become an internet meme associated with white women who act erratically, such as calling police on Black people in Central Park or acting like it is their personal property. But some claim the term Karen is offensively sexist and minimizes racism and privilege.
Others, like Sun, say they take it less seriously when someone refers to them as Karen; still, it can make them think twice about how they act.
1. Don’t Get Angry
After several years on the Internet, an unkind moniker for middle-aged white women who complain and act entitled was coined – Karens. These ladies (and occasionally men) can often be identified by their asymmetrical bobs and requests to speak with the manager; making headlines for their entitlement, arrogance and general lack of empathy towards others – coughing in front of patrons at bagel shops or calling police on black people for leash holding at Central Park are just two instances where Karens have gained notoriety amongst many online.
However, others view it as a means of calling attention to casual racism and privilege many women exhibit in public. Some have taken up using Karen as an ironic way of describing their style or aesthetic–known as Karencore. Software freedom advocate Dani Weller coined this term at her 2020 TED Talk.
However, most Karens don’t use their power to oppress anyone; rather they create disruption and achieve what they desire – leading many people to see this characterization as sexist, ageist or racist.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t real Karens out there; according to a recent study conducted by business comparison site Bionic, America was identified as the country most likely to host Karen-like behavior and bionic also identified top countries and states where this occurred. So whether traveling for work or leisure purposes, here are some tips on how you can avoid becoming one yourself while traveling:
2. Don’t Blame Others
When women complain and refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, it can be easy for others to label her “Karen.” Whether that means throwing tantrums at Starbucks or calling the police on black people for leashing their dog in Central Park – Karens are all about getting what they want from life.
While “Karen” may be popular and have its own subreddit dedicated to mocking her fictional character, it’s important to recognize its misuse: this term can sometimes be seen as being offensively used; some individuals use it sexist, ageist and racist language against someone, as well as using it as an unflattering nickname for someone with an overbearing or rude personality who doesn’t consider the feelings or needs of others when speaking out against injustices committed against others.
That being said, Karen can also be used as a way of calling out privilege and encouraging white people to recognize their own privilege. “Using Karen to refer to someone out of touch with reality or privilege may be effective when combined with a request that they consider how their behavior impacts others,” according to Chen.
If you observe that someone in your circle is acting like Karen, use it as a warning and not an insult. Doing so might alienate her further or lead her to act out more violently as a response.
Trustpilot recently conducted a study to disprove stereotypes surrounding complaining, showing that those most likely to complain don’t all go by the name Karen; rather, most women complainers were Louise while John led in this area of complaint. Furthermore, this analysis examined factors like gender and origin to understand what causes complainers’ actions.
3. Don’t Threaten
Threatening someone when someone treats you poorly may seem tempting, but is never acceptable. From telling them they won’t get their dream job to calling them names that could get them arrested and even prison time, threatening someone can have serious legal and physical repercussions that may even include physical harm to both parties involved – not to mention just how mean-spirited it can be to do this when you know nothing of their experiences.
Determining when it is necessary to call police or an executive can be challenging, so always ensure your actions are justified before doing so. Furthermore, it may be beneficial to save any messages, screenshots, or other evidence of the situation in case something does go amiss.
Though the Karen meme has long been seen as an oppressive tool against women, some males with the name Karen have also been labeled Karens – however, the term may also be misogynistic and erase white privilege.
Sun told CNN she hasn’t personally been called Karen, but the stereotype has come up in conversations before and can be annoying. While not considered to be a slur, it still feels personal when people make jokes about it and affects how she interacts with people publicly, especially regarding decisions to speak up or not speak up when necessary – though most times she prefers letting situations resolve themselves without intervening herself.
4. Don’t Make a Scene
In recent years, social media users have widely adopted the Karen meme. Her name has become associated with someone who’s overly dramatic and easily offended – often making statements such as, yelling at employees at Starbucks or calling the police when barbequing in parks; even brandishing guns in public, like those seen threatening protesters at rallies in St Louis (Ken and Karen)! Though some may use Karen as an insultive term to refer to white privilege or systemic racism.
Know Your Meme contributor Matt Schimkowitz suggests that Karen may have originated during a Dane Cook comedy special broadcast in 2005. From there, her character eventually made its way onto Reddit via the r/F—YouKaren subreddit created in 2017 featuring Kate Gosselin from Jon & Kate Plus 8, which followed their relationship as they raised eight kids together. Over time this subreddit became so popular that its name gave rise to “Karencore,” an appreciation of stereotypical Karen behaviors such as the so-called “speak to the manager” haircut or minivans – all thanks to Reddit!
Although real women with the name Karen can be found everywhere in America, it can still be intrusive when someone refers to you as Karen when you don’t fit that description. Karen Sandler is an attorney and software freedom advocate. While at first she found it upsetting being called Karen was used against her, over time the stereotype has reminded her to be mindful of others and support those being overlooked or neglected.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up
Recent years have witnessed an explosion of “Karen” memes online. These insulting terms target white women perceived to be complaining or acting entitled. Thanks to viral videos like that of a woman yelling at Starbucks employee or calling police on protestors outside their mansion, this term gained tremendous momentum and popularity.
This term has sparked much discussion over misogyny and privilege, with some calling it out as racism while others see it as an effective way of drawing attention to a bigger problem – that some individuals lack the ability to accept frustration without responding by responding negatively.
Dani Weller, customer service expert from Bionic, suggests the best way to deal with Karen is to remain calm and listen. Even if they disagree with something, try explaining it objectively without becoming emotional about the matter.
She suggests asking them to repeat their complaint, which may help them realize when they’re being rude or threatening. Finally, keeping records of your interactions so you can refer back to them later is also very useful.
But what about actual people named Karen? CNN conducted several interviews and discovered that while they may have been teased as Karens in the past, it doesn’t feel particularly personal. One woman told CNN it has come up frequently but probably more often used jokingly: she says it can feel defensive when people pick on Karens as someone is being made fun of; although she does not consider it to be a slur but believes it points towards some level of privilege.