Karen has become increasingly common on social media platforms as a derogatory term for middle-aged white women. It has been used to criticize various unkind or selfish acts.
Karen has often been associated with sexism, though this isn’t just limited to females. Some even argue that it is a racial slur against white people – though this isn’t always the case.
Popular Characteristics of Karen Memes
“Karen” has become a catchall term for an image of a middle-aged white woman often depicted with self-righteousness and antagonism. She typically sports a spiky blonde haircut and tends to call the cops on black neighbors or service industry workers who inconvenience her.
However, as its usage has spread, the phrase has also come to be applied to a range of other people and events. It has even been applied to the coronavirus pandemic with people refusing to wear face coverings in public, criticizing service staff members, and spreading false information on social media platforms.
Though this practice of using names to symbolize negative stereotypes and archetypes is relatively recent, linguistic experts point out a long tradition of doing so. Examples include “Scrooge,” which has come to be associated with wealthy, greedy individuals, and “Mammy,” which often refers to an uncaring mother or grandmother.
These names are often informal terms that youth use to refer to older generations, according to Dr. I.M Nick, a nomenclature expert and former president of the American Name Society. Dr. Nick believes this trend may have been caused in part by the proliferation of shortenings and abbreviations seen on social media platforms like Snapchat.
In addition, the name “Karen” has become associated with several stereotypes. For instance, some people have even adopted a male form of the Karen name – known as “Kens.”
One notable characteristic of the name is its association with white privilege. This stems from its longstanding association with race, where white women typically enjoy greater levels of wealth, education, and social status than their non-white counterparts.
One example of this trend is the rise of “Karen,” a derogatory term for white women that has gained widespread acceptance over recent years. Particularly in America, where it’s come to symbolize an irascible white woman’s behavior in public. Case in point: the “Kidz Bop Karen” video sparked nationwide protests when a white woman called the police on a group of black children playing soccer at a park.
Karen has been a beloved name among Baby Boomers since the 1960s. Unfortunately, Karen has become an Internet slur that derogatorily refers to a middle-aged white woman with her own opinion and tendency for bad behaviors.
Over the past few years, this term has gained momentum both online and in real life. People are using it to describe a range of situations – from calling the police on an African man for walking his dog in a park to other more controversial incidents.
According to a senior editor at Know Your Meme, the term “Karen” originated as an internet joke on Reddit in 2014. A person wearing a side-swept bob with an asymmetrical spiky fringe was labeled as a “speak to the manager,” and this became an iconic joke that went viral; eventually, it was combined with Karen for the creation of this meme.
In 2017, a subreddit was created specifically for Karen-related memes. These threads focused on how Karens are portrayed in media and how their behavior can often be attributed to privilege.
According to Judith Williams, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Michigan who has studied this phenomenon, Karens often call the police on people of color for minor matters and may also engage in racist microaggressions or berate employees for not taking care of their customers. This type of entitlement poses a problem, she states.
Although some still use the term as a derogatory to refer to middle-aged women, there’s now recognition that its origins in class inequality and racism extend much deeper than gender. Karens often take advantage of their privilege to exploit other people of color for personal gain or advantage.
The Karen meme’s rise has had an effect on local governments, leading San Francisco to pass a bill called the Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies Act that penalizes callers who engage in racial profiling and unfairly target people of color for services they need.
Recently, the online character known as “Karen” has gained widespread traction. She appeals to a diverse audience, particularly women.
At first, Karen figures were used with more derogatory humor, emphasizing her pushy and classist ways. But as social media users became more cognizant of the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, their cartoon character began to acquire new connotations and turn into an increasingly harmful epithet.
One prominent voice in the debate over Karen is British feminist commentator Julie Bindel. She has condemned the meme for being “woman-hating” and based on class prejudice, drawing comparisons to “Sharon” and “Tracy,” two names used in 1980s Britain to dismiss working-class women.
Karen has become synonymous with white women who possess an arrogant sense of entitlement. These individuals may demand to speak to service industry workers, be anti-vaccination, or engage in racist microaggressions.
This sense of entitlement has made women an easy target for jokes about them. A Reddit user named karmacop97 started the subreddit Fuck_You_Karen in 2017 after posting an angry online rant against his ex-wife, who had taken their children and house after they divorced.
He told me he began the subreddit as a joke, but its popularity quickly spread. Now it boasts over one thousand members and remains active.
Many have speculated that Karen’s popularity may be due to the surge of social media shortenings and abbreviations. This tendency, particularly among teens and young adults, has made Karen an easily recognizable name that may be associated with rude entitlement.
Karen’s character likely evolved from an existing trend of assigning alliterative nicknames to white women who engage in behaviors deemed socially distancing by others. This practice has been around for decades, and black culture even uses it to label unruly white women who strive to control others.
Karen has become a ubiquitous term for women on social media platforms. While these can be humorous, they often degrade or stigmatize individuals by labeling them a “Karen.”
Karen 2.0 is a popular variation of this name; it’s more snarky, self-entitled, and rude.
Karens tend to be middle-aged white women between 30-50 years old who are blonde and have multiple kids. Additionally, these individuals are usually anti-vaxxers with a strong attitude that everyone should have the power of refusal when asked for something.
Snarky, selfish behavior is a widespread issue in many communities, but it’s especially prevalent among women of the middle class. They have benefited from government programs and have access to education and jobs that their counterparts in lower-income groups do not enjoy.
One possible explanation for this trend could be the increasing use of shortened names in various cultural contexts. This tendency is especially evident within the predominantly white men’s rights movement, where terms like “Chad,” “Talkback Tammy,” and “Becky with the good hair” are used to ridicule those who do not fit mainstream gender norms or beauty standards.
Some speculate that this occurs because it’s often simple to shorten someone’s name on social media in order to make them more identifiable. While this can be a convenient way of avoiding having to deal with an actual name online, some believe it also creates an atmosphere of anonymity which allows individuals to act badly without fear of reprisals from others.
Though this statement has some merit, other factors can also influence a name’s popularity on social media platforms. The term Karen often serves to degrade or stigmatize someone and has even become an attack slur against white women in general.
Other characteristics can make someone more likely to be labeled a Karen, such as having children or being elderly. While these issues may be difficult to discuss openly, they should be taken into account when making judgments about someone’s behavior.