The “Karen” meme has cast a negative light upon middle-aged, entitled women. But who exactly is “Karen?”
Online, Karen has become a derogatory term to refer to middle-aged white women who act with arrogant entitlement. But is this assessment accurate?
1. Listen to her.
“Karen” has gained increasing traction online, but parents should avoid using the word if they wish for their children to develop healthy values. “Karen” refers to white women who use their privilege to gain what they desire without using any means necessary; often seen as mean, rude and annoying by others. Code Switch investigates why this term is being used this way and how parents can stop it becoming part of cultural conversations.
Recent years have seen Karen become an increasingly prevalent term on social media to denote an entitled, powerful white woman who uses her position for personal gain. Viral videos shaming these individuals have surfaced online; from New York bagel shop worker who coughed on patrons (“Coughing Karen”) to Central Park birders calling police on Black people (as shown in “Central Park Karen”).
Karen has become such a widespread name that there’s even an entire subreddit dedicated to criticizing her character, with Karen memes popping up everywhere. Yet using birth names as insults only sends the message that their identities are degraded and are unworthy of respect, leading people to act differently when dealing with women named Karen.
Although this term has become popular due to anti-feminist stereotypes, it also represents a growing culture of virtue signalling. Women who call the police on black people for no apparent reason don’t just call themselves Karen: instead they might be Lisa, Lena, Amy or Janene–even Karen herself dressed up like this person who makes false reports against others!
2. Don’t get involved.
Karens have an appetite for drama and are adept at creating conflict. Using dramatic behavior to attract attention for themselves and feel superior, Karens are likely narcissists; such people thrive off chaos and drama because it allows them to feel like victims. In addition, Karens are known for being heartless – using any means necessary -to get what they want from others, belittling others or using their power over them to achieve this end goal.
Have you encountered Karen before? She’s likely been seen demanding to speak to the manager when something doesn’t go her way, whining about everything and driving a van or SUV with an aggressive tone. Additionally, she might sport blonde bob cut hairstyle and call 911 on skateboarders regularly.
The Karen meme originally began as an attempt to poke fun at privileged white women who believe everyone should bow down to them, but has since evolved into an offensive caricature targeting white women who engage in aggressive behaviors towards people of color. Karen is no longer just a joke; rather it serves as an offensive reminder that women use emotions and vulnerabilities to manipulate men.
If your sister exhibits several characteristics of being a Karen, it’s wise to steer clear of her drama. Being around one can be exhausting both physically and emotionally; if necessary, try spending time with her in short increments so you’re not overwhelmed by their toxic energy. Furthermore, its best to avoid her friends because she may judge their behaviors and view them as less worthy than herself.
3. Try to understand.
Karens have earned themselves a reputation for being rude and entitled, lacking empathy in some instances and appearing as threats. Though some individuals have called out Karens’ behavior during the coronavirus lockdown, others have shown more patience with them – though this may not always be easy if you identify as Karen yourself.
The Karen people are ethnic Thai but primarily reside in western Burma’s mountainous region. Here they cultivate “hill rice”, living in small clearings surrounded by forest with homes made of bamboo and thatch; life in their villages revolves around planting and harvesting cycles with some worshiping different “K’la”, or spirits that claim god-like powers over crops.
Modern Karens have generally converted to Buddhism; yet many still observe some traditional practices, including their preference for bitter and sour foods as well as using turmeric medicinally. Karens may also stay indoors during rainy periods believing this to be a beneficial time of rest.
As with other female names used as shorthand for certain tropes, like “Becky” or “Chad,” Karen has come to symbolize a certain type of woman online. People use it as shorthand for women who behave in offensive, entitled or racist ways – an internet shorthand for these behavior characteristics that men do not receive when called out – suggesting some subtle bias exists within our way of discussing Karens.
4. Tell her she’s wrong.
If your sister has been pushing you around, now may be the time to speak up. While it’s okay to let her know what she’s doing is wrong and why, try not to accuse or argue back in response; simply explain politely what actions are unacceptable to you and set boundaries that fit within them.
Karens tend to be self-centered individuals with an exaggerated sense of entitlement and can become angry and defensive when challenged about their behavior. Additionally, Karens tend to take an unfavorable view of life and can become jealous when other have accomplished more than them; ultimately leading them down a path of self-sabotage.
Karens often lack an in-depth knowledge of their world, leading them to be intolerant towards those of different races and cultures – be it an African child playing in their neighbourhood, or Hispanic staff working at a restaurant – regardless of whether it be Hispanic staff members. Without acknowledging other ethnicities as existing within our globalized world.
In order to rid your sister of Karenism, it’s essential that clear boundaries be set early on and adhered to. When she begins crossing them, be prepared to remind her of the rules and consequences you set up if she violates them; ultimately it isn’t fair for her to treat you this way or anyone else like this either.
5. Don’t judge.
If you are unfamiliar with Karens, their behaviors may seem perplexing at times. However, if they’re close to you it is imperative that you maintain distance and do not let her manipulate you into doing what she wants – they are known for being coldhearted manipulators and will go to any length to achieve what they desire so it is crucial that she doesn’t use you as her personal ATM!
“Karen” initially denoted women who felt so entitled that they sought out management whenever their feelings were offended, but recently has taken on more sinister implications: now it refers to white middle-aged women who exploit their fragility to manipulate men – especially prevalent in America where it is widely held that white women possess greater power than their male counterparts.
Kelly noticed the virus taking shape. Her skin began changing to reflect more mature tones while her body developed curves characteristic of Entitled Karen women. Kelly noticed her hair also gradually turning blonde – something Kelly hadn’t experienced previously.
She became infected with a dangerous virus called Karenism, which took seven days to transform her into a Karen and would last three months before it dissipated and she could return to her original age and form.
Realizing you have been exposed to the Karen virus is the first step to effectively protecting yourself against its attacks. Once this step has been taken, steps can be taken to combat her attacks on you and shield against their harmful impacts.