Karens are more than just stereotypical figures; they’re toxic individuals who pose risks to members of marginalized communities.
In some cases, these individuals can be so aggressive that they pose a serious danger to their victim’s safety and wellbeing. Whether targeting people of color or simply trying to get their point across, these people can be difficult to manage.
1. A Middle-Class White Woman
The term “Karen,” which has become a ubiquitous meme over the summer, refers to middle class white women who benefit from racist power structures while pretending they are unaware of their privilege. Karens use their power to harass, bully and act out against others for perceived injustices they have no influence over.
Middle-class white women often become mothers and are thus vulnerable to a range of misguided behaviors that are both race and gender specific.
One white woman recently posted a video to Twitter which depicted her entering her neighbor’s mailbox to steal a package. The video has since been retweeted hundreds of times and is becoming an important topic of debate.
But there’s a problem with this video and other examples of Karen behavior from recent years. Almost all these videos feature white women who are aware of their privilege and use it to harass or discriminate against people of color.
Karens have even been known to steal packages from homes and hurl racial slurs at Black neighbors. It’s no wonder why they’ve become such an incense-inspiring part of the internet community.
This woman’s actions were in direct response to the racist behavior she witnessed in her neighborhood. Yet it also serves as a reminder of how much racism still exists unchecked in society, with white people having been allowed to get away with displaying racial hostility for decades.
Many middle-class white women are frustrated with how racism remains a large part of our culture, particularly in countries like America where racial profiling has become increasingly commonplace and many white people have begun to recognize how detrimental this system of racial hierarchy actually is to all Americans’ lives.
The internet has provided us with an endless supply of stories about middle-class white people acting out in ways that are disproportionately hostile towards people of color. Whether it’s a white mother driving her vehicle in an offensive road rage video or an older white woman demanding her doctor acknowledge “Black privilege,” these narratives have been told before and never seem to end.
2. A Middle-Class White Woman with Money
Karen has become the talk of the internet, her name now synonymous with aggressive pettiness, self-entitlement and middle class arrogance. She’s known for mistreating those she considers ‘beneath’ her – such as customer service personnel or waitstaff – while having an affinity for hierarchy that may lead her to enforce rules for personal gain.
She’s known for her fiery temper and fierce anger when she doesn’t get what she wants. Usually accompanied by an obedient dog, she will go toe-to-toe with anyone she deems an opponent.
Karens pose a problem: Not only do they annoy other people, but also pose the potential risk of harming themselves and others. Indeed, Karens pose an actual danger to women and children’s safety.
Karens’ violent behavior may indicate they are mentally unstable. They may be vulnerable to panic attacks, aggressive impulses and other mental health issues which could negatively impact their family’s wellbeing and quality of life.
These women may be able to manage their emotions, but they don’t put others before themselves. They are ruthless, heartless and malevolent – traits which can have lasting consequences on those closest to them.
Once they feel threatened, many dogs go into “beast mode”, attacking whatever comes close to them – typically something symbolic of power or status. Not only this, but they may yell and scream in protest as well, demanding you do things their way and creating a scene.
You can observe this kind of behavior in movies like Blackkklansman and Whitekklansman. These films serve as examples of how middle-class white women may act aggressively towards Black people and other marginalized groups in an effort to protect their own interests.
Real-life examples of this pattern exist. Middle class white women who have more money than sense often strive to belong in the upper echelons of society.
But what happens when they lack the power to advocate for themselves? They may turn toward other people and systems for blame, such as Black people, in an attempt to justify their mistreatment. This behavior has the potential to endanger Black families and individuals while damaging their own mental health in the process.
3. A Middle-Class White Woman with Mental Health Issues
In our modern society, it is increasingly important to discuss mental health issues. This stems from both an increasing awareness of the stigma that still surrounds this topic and a desire for people to receive education on mental health matters.
One way to accomplish this is by featuring a diverse range of women with mental health issues. Shows like You’re the Worst, Lady Dynamite or Jessica Jones take great care in crafting their female leads who possess various levels of experience with mental illness. We applaud these shows for taking time to craft female leads who possess such diverse perspectives on mental illness.
Women of color often face fewer opportunities to witness characters dealing with mental illness in a way that honors their humanity. This is especially problematic since many communities of color face barriers when it comes to accessing mental health services and may not receive the assistance necessary for recovery.
Black, Latino and Asian communities are especially affected by these barriers to mental health care. They are more likely to suffer from various mental illnesses and receive less accurate treatments due to cultural values that shape their attitudes toward such issues.
Asian Americans often notice mental illnesses are prevalent in their communities but are afraid to discuss them for fear of stigmatization. This can lead them to feel depressed and isolated in their daily lives.
African Americans may feel embarrassed or guilty about discussing their mental health concerns due to a belief that it indicates weakness or punishment from God. This can lead them to avoid seeking help and deprive themselves of adequate healthcare services.
People of color are much more vulnerable to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than white people due to their experiences with racial trauma that may cause emotional distress and anxiety.
This can be made worse by the fact that many people of color don’t understand mental health and are afraid to discuss it for fear of getting a false diagnosis or being shamed. This makes accessing care difficult, leading to inadequate treatment and decreased quality of life.
4. A Middle-Class White Woman with PTSD
With the rise of Black Lives Matter, many white people are confronting their racist tendencies. These reflective whites recognize that they have been complicit in systemic racism for centuries – particularly among white women who often become its victims themselves.
A middle-class white woman who displays aggressive behavior toward Karens may be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition that can develop after experiencing trauma. PTSD is more common among women than men and those who have experienced poverty and violence have an increased chance of developing it.
PTSD can cause a range of symptoms, such as altered cognition and mood–such as changes to memory, emotions or thoughts. Furthermore, one’s ability to function socially may be negatively affected; social isolation and an absence of interest in previously enjoyed activities may result.
Many people with PTSD do not have other mental health issues, so it is essential to seek help if you are experiencing symptoms like helplessness and disbelief, difficulty sleeping, reliving the trauma, or feeling constantly threatened by others.
Recently, social media has seen the emergence of “Karen” videos. These depict anti-mask white women confronting police officers and have been met with mixed reviews. Many observers view these clips as too short to capture all of the details surrounding an interaction, leaving viewers with questions.
Video clips can be edited and manipulated to craft a false narrative that not only misleads viewers, but may be harmful for those involved. As a result, people are paying closer attention than ever before to these viral callouts.
The “Karen” meme is especially pertinent to modern times because it symbolizes white privilege that is no longer hidden from public view. Time’s Cady Lang writes, the internet has “been given a platform to showcase the vicious history of white womanhood” and “Karens serve as reminders” of how violently white women have reacted in this country. These characters often sport South Philly mom cuts like Kate Gosselin’s trademark cowlicked bob, as well as being featured in numerous Internet memes.