Public expressions of anger are nothing new – they’re an integral part of human culture.
Recent videos showing white women protesting mandatory face coverings and people of color have gone viral on social media, being dubbed “Karens.” But are these really Karens at all?
They’re a result of toxic female hysteria
Through history, doctors have used the term hysteria to describe women who exhibit various symptoms and behaviors. In the 1800s, this condition was considered a psychological disorder and those exhibiting these signs were directed to psychiatrists for further evaluation.
In the 19th century, hysteria was more often associated with women than it is today. Doctors often assigned this condition to those women who were intellectual and could attend school or work outside the home.
These concepts of hysteria made women uncomfortable in society. They were seen as volatile and unpredictable, even a danger to other people’s safety.
Hysteria was often misconstrued and misrepresented against Black and non-Black women of color, who were often painted as hysterical, dramatic, and abrasive when in reality they were simply trying to advocate for their own health and wellbeing.
However, these misconceptions about hysteria are not entirely accurate. Hysteria is an actual medical condition that can be caused by various factors such as environmental influences, genetics and stress.
Hysteria is a mental illness that causes women to experience overwhelming feelings of overwhelmement and become irritable. It may also result in dangerous symptoms like seizures or hallucinations.
Physicians began treating hysteria with medications such as benzodiazepines and anti-anxiety drugs in the 1800s. Furthermore, pelvic massage and genital stimulation were considered effective treatments for this disorder at that time.
These treatments seek to relax the woman’s anxiety and boost her sexual desire. Some physicians even speculated that clitoral stimulation might reduce hysteria.
Other treatments included the use of tampons and specula, which expand the walls of a woman’s vagina to reveal her cervix. This would give her control over her body and enable her to feel more at ease in public.
Although these treatments are no longer widely prescribed, they were still utilized in the 1800s and early 1900s. At that time, medical professionals believed that a woman’s uterus was her most important asset when it came to health and wellbeing.
They’re a result of white privilege
White women who scream or display anger in public often do so to get what they want – such as a first aid kit with “flesh-colored” Band-Aids, access to grocery stores with diverse food selections or home phones without call buttons that require an extension number for making calls.
White people’s demand that their needs be met is a powerful symbol of what’s known as “the power of normal” in this country. If public spaces and goods appear to cater more exclusively to one race over another, it suggests something is amiss.
For instance, it might be the first-aid kit with “flesh-colored” Band-Aids that only match white people’s skin tone or the grocery store stocking food items that reflect the cultural traditions of most white people. These are examples of what Peggy McIntosh calls the “power of the benefit of the doubt”.
She noted that white privileges often go undetected and create systemic inequity that benefits those who possess them more than people of color. For example, white people are likely to get a lower mortgage rate than someone of color with similar credit credentials, reinforcing the idea that “white people are the norm.”
In turn, this reinforces the perception that people of color are marginalized. This problem transcends everyday transactions and shopping preferences.
Karens may experience grief in public spaces due to their sense of being left behind economically and politically in a country. These feelings of loss shape how we view ourselves and how we interact with others. For instance, Karens may become upset in public places due to the resentments they feel towards a country that has failed them economically and politically.
This could lead to a variety of social issues, such as mental health issues and substance abuse issues. It could even have an adverse impact on business operations.
The internet has been filled with viral videos of individuals labeled “Karens.” Examples include a woman coughing on a bagel shop patron and calling the police on her neighbor for writing “Black Lives Matter” with chalk on his sidewalk. These videos serve to draw attention to issues of racial profiling, discrimination and white privilege; they can serve as powerful teaching tools to help individuals recognize when they possess privilege and how it should be utilized in daily life.
They’re a result of racial profiling
At present, much is going on in America that many Karens and Kens are feeling overwhelmed with. Furloughs, layoffs, stress and the return of Black Lives Matter have left many feeling resentful and overwhelmed.
Some are so fed up with society that they take out their frustration on those around them in videos that go viral. You often see these individuals losing their temper in clothing stores, supermarkets and restaurants.
Social commentators say these protests are the result of racial profiling, a response to an oppressive system which makes Black people feel unsafe and threatened.
But these clashes aren’t always racially-based; they often stem from a sense of entitlement.
White people may feel they are entitled to special treatment in certain circumstances, such as being allowed to ask a manager to change their attire, wear a face mask or request seats in the front row of an airplane. When someone attempts to tell them that their requests aren’t allowed, they may become agitated and aggravated quickly.
These reactions are often captured and shared online via Twitter, Facebook US:FB and Instagram. While those watching them may not be thinking specifically about the situation at hand, their comments often reflect how they feel about racism generally.
Recently, a white woman in New York City called the cops on a Black man for bird-watching in Central Park – an incident which has since been widely reported. This incident became one of many infamous “Karen Public Freakouts” that went viral this summer.
But this incident wasn’t the only instance of a white woman using her privilege to police Black people. Earlier this year, Amy Cooper, another white woman, called the police on an African American man for being in a public park and received widespread social media exposure for her extreme response.
The video of the Central Park incident went viral and ignited a national dialogue about race in the months that followed. With summer’s coronavirus pandemic and ongoing police brutality crisis at its height, incidents like Cooper’s became fertile ground for such conversations.
They’re a result of a lack of self-awareness
Karen Public Freakouts are often indicative of a lack of self-awareness. People who lack this awareness tend to express racism, make racist jokes and refuse to pay for items. Unfortunately, these individuals often exhibit overconfidence, poor judgment and are unable to learn from their errors or build strong teams or relationships with others.
Experts advise that to be self-aware, you must accept who you are and be willing to let go of what doesn’t serve you. Doing this allows for more enlightened, productive, and socially responsible behavior in everyday life.
According to Lillian Glass, a communications expert and workplace consultant, individuals who lack self-awareness often become overwhelmed by various issues that have left them feeling insecure and threatened. This applies equally for men and women alike, according to her analysis.
She noted that many videos shared on social media are the result of furloughs, layoffs, lockdowns and the rebirth of Black Lives Matter. These events have created a perfect storm which has left many feeling anxious and depressed.
Therefore, they tend to experience anger and frustration that can lead to unpleasant experiences. Furthermore, if they don’t feel their needs are being met, these behaviors often escalate quickly.
Experts warn that Karens are particularly prone to becoming irate and displaying inappropriate behaviors in public, which could result in a negative reputation for any business dealing with them.
Karens tend to be older, which may make them less capable of handling difficult situations with the same maturity as younger individuals. Furthermore, Karens may possess an individualistic mindset which leads them to believe they deserve special treatment from employers – leading to frustration and anger in the workplace.
No matter the circumstances, it’s essential to recognize that public outrage should never occur. Businesses should take the necessary measures so their customers don’t have to endure such behavior.