The Karen Meme is a term used to describe an arrogant, middle-aged white woman who engages in arguments with service industry workers and demands to speak directly to the manager.
This meme has gained notoriety over the last couple of years as an insult directed at middle-aged white women. Now it is being used to refer to those who engage in acts perceived as racist, such as wrongfully calling the police on Black people.
Type 1: Anti-Social
For some time now, social media users have been labeling women who act inappropriately or with entitlement ‘Karen’. This term has become a derogatory label and insult that’s frequently used to denigrate white women in particular.
Karens began as a lighthearted joke, but quickly turned into something much more serious. Now they stand as symbols of white supremacy and an emblem for 2020’s contentious racial politics.
Over the years, “sexism” has become increasingly common as a way of denoting women who act with entitlement or aggression toward others. It has also been applied to Black women who call the police on Black people or who exercise power dynamics in an aggressive manner.
This has become an increasingly pressing issue, particularly on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. There’s a tendency towards name-calling and shaming which can have serious repercussions.
Many have suffered the consequences of being labeled as ‘Karen’ and have gone into hiding. Others have even issued desperate denials in an effort to save their reputations.
Recent research revealed that more than one in three Karens have seen their names featured in memes, compared to only 6% of the general population. This trend is especially concerning when applied to women accused of misogynistic behaviors.
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore that this behavior is increasingly being recorded and shared on social media as a viral video or meme. As an example of how culture often goes viral, what starts online rarely stays there; thus, being aware of how Karen may be used online and its potential repercussions in real life is essential for anyone seeking happiness in this digital age.
Type 2: Anti-Black
Karen is a derogatory term used to describe an arrogant, entitled and sometimes racist middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to exert control over other people’s behaviors.
Karen slang name popularity has been spurred on by several viral incidents in which white women have called the police on Black people and filmed themselves harassing or intimidating them in public places. This behavior, often motivated by class tensions and victimhood, echoes past racist and discriminatory acts perpetrated by white women.
These incidents of harassment and assault against Black people, particularly women, have created an anti-Black climate that has permeated social media platforms and the national consciousness. One incident in May was a video called “Bubba Becky” featuring an agitated woman calling the police on a Black man using a charcoal grill in a park to cook a barbecue.
In May, Stacy Talbert posted a video on YouTube in which she appeared to be on the verge of tears while expresseing fear that McDonald’s employees might have tampered with her food due to her status as a police officer. This clip quickly went viral and became known online as “Karen the meme,” an iconic meme seen across various social media platforms.
Jennifer Weiner (2020) notes that Karen as a public figure during a pandemic period has brought to light an anti-Black rage that has been prevalent among white middle class Americans for decades. This anger often stems from feeling powerless in the face of competition from disenfranchised lower income and minority workers for scarce goods and services. This anger, often expressed through demands to appeal to authority, has been marked by feelings of entitlement and an urgent need to be seen as someone of significance.
Type 3: Anti-White
Karens are a group of entitled, racist white women that often appear in offensive videos on social media platforms. Generally middle aged, these individuals wear asymmetrical hairstyles and demand to speak to the manager or customer service representative for any reason whatsoever.
Recently, this meme’s popularity has surged exponentially. It received a major boost with Amy Cooper’s iconic Central Park incident where she called the cops on a birdwatcher and uploaded video footage that went viral.
In response to the incident, many on Twitter called out white women who use their privilege to call the police on Black folks. The term “Karen” became part of popular social media lingo after the pandemic and has become a convenient way for criticizing racial biases.
Although some still object to the phrase, some believe it to be a misogynistic slur directed at white women. If this is indeed the case, then its removal from social media platforms should be enforced.
Despite this, many still use the phrase in their daily lives. And this trend shows no signs of stopping.
But how can we explain this phenomenon? To fully grasp its meaning, we need to examine how the word is used and in what context. It all boils down to classism, misogyny and racial tensions.
Type 4: Anti-Generation X
Karen has become a widely-used meme that continues to gain momentum. It originated as an insult against certain white women — anti-vaxxers with entitlement complexes and “can I speak to the manager” hair — but has since evolved into an iconic shorthand for 2020’s intense social politics.
Karen’s most recent development has been a public call-out to middle-aged white women who believe themselves exempt from social distancing and masks, out of either ignorance or self-interest. These women often call the police when Black people are harassed in public spaces, with videos of their actions becoming increasingly popular on social media platforms.
In one particularly extreme instance, a New York City farmer’s market organizer allegedly called the police on a Black man selling water outside her booth. This incident garnered national attention and was captured on video for posterity as evidence of how white women are increasingly abusing their privilege to harass Black people.
Other names used to describe this group of entitled white women include “BBQ Becky” and “Central Park Karen,” but whatever the label, these white women often use their privilege as a means of subjugating Black people. They perceive Black people as threats, using their racial identity to police them in public spaces.
It’s an increasingly dangerous and racist trend, yet it seems more prevalent than ever before. Some of these women have been caught on video such as Amy Cooper who pulled her dog by its collar and called police to report that a Black man was threatening her life. Other examples include Alison Ettel who called police on a Black child selling water and Golf Cart Gail who tattled on her daughter’s lemonade stand.
Type 5: Anti-Boomer
The boomer generation refers to those born between 1946 and 1964, born during a time when living costs were relatively low. Nowadays, they may be seen as out of touch with today’s modern world, leading to some tension between older and younger generations.
In some instances, young people have posted memes that are offensive to older individuals. These jokes aim to demonstrate their lack of awareness and insensitivity towards society as a whole.
One popular meme is called “Ok Boomer,” a dismissive expression used to mock baby boomers. This expression has gained steam on the Internet and some users are even creating rap songs using it.
One popular meme is the “Karen” meme. This derogatory term is used to label middle-aged white women who are perceived to be acting inappropriately, rudely or entitledly.
This term has a history of being used to denigrate black people and other People of Color, leading some users to make racist comments and take actions such as calling the police on unarmed black individuals who are simply minding their own business.
These posts have spawned numerous memes, such as Karensgoingwild’s Instagram account which now boasts 1.6 million followers – double its initial following!
This page displays screenshots and videos of typically middle-aged white women acting in an offensive or inappropriate manner, such as calling the police on a Black person who is minding their own business or harassing customer service workers.
Social media users have been drawn to a trend linked to the racial tensions of the Trump administration. While some posts have been labeled ageist, others represent an even deeper-seated issue than simple ageism.