No matter your background or generational background, chances are you’ve heard of Karen as a term used to refer to an overly entitled white woman in today’s American world – particularly when this involves racism or other forms of discrimination. It’s an effective and fun way of calling out white entitlement, highlighting it when racism or discrimination exist within it.
The male version of entitled Karens
The Karen meme has long been a hit online, used to represent an archetype of middle-aged white woman with entitled behavior who demands speaking with management and demands her say in things. According to social activist and blogger Alicia Sanchez Gill, its roots lie in racism and oppression that occurs daily across the world.
According to her, Karen originated in American internet culture as an insulting term used to identify women who display certain traits. Similar to “Chads,” Karen is used as an offensive and degrading insult that targets specific behavior.
An attempt at finding humor in real-world racism and oppression, it has also become a tool to mock and shame white people on Twitter. Particularly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, where it has become a racial slur against those who refuse to wear masks or comply with coronavirus regulations, the term is being widely used.
Over recent months, male versions of the Karen meme have also appeared, though they have yet to gain popularity at the same level as its original female bob cut counterpart.
Due to Kens’ lack of physical differences from Karens, Eminem’s Space Karen was not photoshopped with a blonde bob haircut and there are less tweets pertaining to Kens on Reddit than for Karens.
Some have asserted that Kens aren’t as racist and oppressive as Karens are, yet still represent a similar type of discrimination. Kens are more likely to disregard coronavirus regulations and wear masks compared to women who do so.
Another interesting trait of male Karens is their non-white background – rather, they tend to identify more as Asian-American males compared with what has traditionally been associated with white women as Karens. This shift represents an unexpected development within Karen culture as White women were traditionally associated with them.
Critics have voiced strong objections to the word “Karen” being used as a racist slur, with many alleging that it only applies to white women. Many individuals have publicly disapproved of its usage.
The male version of racist Karens
There have been various viral tweets and memes depicting Kens as female Karens – not all of them positive!
“Karen” has long been seen as an insulting term used to refer to white women who act in an entitled way; however, with recent tensions arising from Black Lives Matter protests and coronavirus pandemic outbreak, it has come to symbolize racism more broadly. Karens are frequently depicted as white people calling the police on Black and Latino individuals for seemingly minor infractions of law – an unfair portrayal that perpetuates stereotypes about race relations in America.
As more examples of racist and sexist behavior have been caught on video by women of color, this trend has only increased in intensity. When San Francisco lawmaker Shamann Walton proposed an ordinance prohibiting false racially biased 911 calls, many social media users who expressed outrage claimed Karens should be held accountable for mistreating Black and Brown people.
Reducing Karen to just one term is an oversimplification that ignores larger systemic issues of privilege and racism that lie at its heart. Yet it should be noted that these slurs are used not just by people of color but also white women who take on her persona and act entitled towards her.
As tensions between races rise in 2020, numerous Karens have been called out on social media for their racist and sexist behaviors – many directed at Black or Latino women – including white women calling police on them for no discernible reason, white men brandishing firearms at protestors passing by their house and even pulling guns on mothers and daughters in parking lots.
Although “entitled white woman” has long been used by media, recently it has begun trending online and created many alliterative names to describe her bad-behavior.
Some characters have become popular, such as Barbecue Becky, Golfcart Gail, Permit Patty and Talkback Tammy. These women are widely perceived as officious white women who take offense at any small inconveniences caused to others and tend to speak out about it openly.
The male version of white privilege Karens
Have you spent any time online? Chances are, you have probably come across viral tweets or memes about how men who identify as Karen are often misunderstood as Kens. What exactly does this entail?
Karen is often used in pop culture as shorthand for a middle-aged white woman who uses her privilege to get her way. This may involve soccer parenting, wearing mom jeans, running school carpools or having certain traits that give the impression she should be entitled to things outside the scope of what is acceptable behavior.
However, over the past several years, these reductive stereotypes began to be challenged in various ways. One such group is The Wall of Moms — an activist group made up mostly of middle-class white mothers in Portland, Oregon — which used its privilege to oppose police violence against Black and Latino people.
They were part of an anti-policing movement sweeping through New York after fatal police shootings of Black men and women, so the practice of socially monitoring one’s neighbors by using nicknames became widespread.
As part of their push against racism, many people are increasingly criticizing those who refuse to cover their faces from Covid-19 — a lethal coronavirus that affects disproportionately those of color — as engaging in racist Karen behavior. This term has gained in popularity because it provides an easy and straightforward way of calling out individuals’ actions without worrying about personal consequences or accusations of racism against themselves.
These incidents aren’t limited to the US; they occur worldwide. Recently in Australia, for instance, a woman confronted Bunnings staff for asking her to wear a mask at one of its Melbourne stores.
Not only are these situations occurring; they are causing significant harm to people’s well-being and safety. Not only can such behaviors be inhumane and degrading to victims, but they may make them susceptible to online harassment and doxxing as well as online trolls threatening them with cyberstalking and doxxing attacks. It’s no wonder so many are beginning to question if this trend should continue or not.
The male version of pandemic-shaming Karens
CrinkleLuvinASMR” has become an immensely popular satirical video about suburban moms, and its most beloved character Karen stands out as its mainstay. Although her stereotypical hair and entitlement complex has always been part of the character, lately there has been a dramatic transformation to Karen in this spoof video.
The internet has transformed the “Karen” stereotype as applied to contemporary social politics and gender issues, expanding beyond simply depicting an archetype white woman into a symbol for all aspects of 2020’s contentious social issues.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, an emerging iteration of Karen has emerged. This version refuses to wear face coverings when in public spaces such as stores, fails to adhere to quarantine policies, and believes the entire pandemic to be overblown.
Fear and frustration has arisen as a result, prompting many to criticize “Coronavirus Karens” on social media for their stand on this matter. For instance, a man filmed himself asking his waiter at a restaurant to check his body only to be met by outrage from staff at that particular eatery.
Recently, internet videos showed another example of Karen-ism when a woman brawled with staff at Red Lobster. It demonstrated how Karen believes herself superior to everyone else and believes her privilege allows her to act cruelly towards those under her.
Modern pop culture features many versions of Karen: from BBQ Becky to Golfcart Gail to Permit Patty and Talkback Tammy — as well as in real life. As we’ve discussed previously, Karens are often signs that systems exist that prevent individuals from exercising their rights and progressing their lives.
Some Karens may simply be the result of learning how to behave in public; however, more are being exposed due to racial bias and white privilege. This trend has only become worse since social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and Women’s March have encouraged people to be more open-minded towards other voices on the internet and in public settings.