The name ‘Karen’ has hit a rough patch lately. It has become an insulting, derogatory label for anyone with an unsavory attitude and an even worse haircut.
Karens have become a derogatory term in popular culture, which has since evolved into something far more sexist, racist, and toxic. It reached its popularity during the 2020 coronavirus pandemic when people identified as Karens made headlines across America.
On the internet, there has been an uptick in Karens. These middle-aged white women are known for their aggressive pettiness, self-entitlement and middle class arrogance. Usually seen sporting short blonde hair, Karens may also be anti-vaxxers who call the police on black people for doing nothing wrong.
Twitter users often describe these women as arrogantly entitled and snarky. They seem to disregard social norms or mutual respect, demanding endless concessions for no other reason than they desire it. They might yell at baristas if their coffee is cold, demand a refund for meals they’ve already eaten, or even call the police on black people if they feel threatened.
The origins of Karen are uncertain, though some speculate it was inspired by Dane Cook’s 2005 sketch The Friend Nobody Likes. Others suggest it could have been a nod to 1989 gangster film Goodfellas. Most agree that Karen gained popularity online after an anonymous Reddit user posted hilarious insults about his ex-wife — posts so funny they spawned a subreddit dedicated to making the story into an entertaining meme.
In other words, “Obnoxious and angry woman” has become a pejorative term that has come to be applied to any middle-aged white woman; however, there have been instances of it being applied to other groups as well.
Recently, a video went viral on Reddit’s r/F**kYouKaren subreddit in which a woman was labeled as a Karen for refusing to wear a mask at a supermarket. She claimed her medical condition prevented her from wearing the mask and wanted to discuss it with the manager.
Contrary to what the woman claims, the supermarket requires all patrons to wear a mask. But she doesn’t agree and is considering filing a lawsuit against the store.
This type of behavior is so widespread, it’s almost impossible to ignore it. Thankfully, one recent case was caught on video and has since been shared multiple times.
A video depicting this exact scenario has been viewed nearly 1 million times on 4chan alone, providing entertainment and raising some interesting points about entitlement that this type of person might possess.
Becky, another female Karen, desires sex but feels pressure from society. Despite this, she continues to pursue what she desires.
As with most things in life, some take the sex thing too seriously and try to pressure others into doing as they please. Thankfully, there are plenty of men who don’t fear to stand up for themselves and be their own bosses – these individuals are commonly referred to as male Karens.
Karen is an insult used to denigrate middle-aged white women who use their social privilege to harass waiters and clerks, particularly minorities. It started with a parody of one bitter husband’s rants on Reddit in 2017 but has since become used as an umbrella term to refer to any middle aged white female who requests speaking with the manager or refuses to wear a mask.
Due to this association, the name has come to be associated with several forms of sexism such as racism and classism. It can also be used to refer to women who display arrogance or entitlement, either unconsciously or consciously.
The word “Karen” was first mentioned in 1989 gangster movie Goodfellas. This term refers to Karen Hill, a character who has an independent streak when her husband isn’t around.
Today, Karens have become a cultural cliche to describe an arrogant middle-aged white woman who disrupts social order with her hair cut and attitude. While online forums have labeled both female and male versions of Karens as Karens, there’s still no consensus on what to call the male version.
Years ago, someone attempted to start an r/MaleKaren subreddit which currently only has two subscribers. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that this user will persist long enough for the internet community to come up with a gender-neutral label for such an arrogant human being.
Karens have no standard name, and many have tried to coin alternative options such as Greg, Ken or Keith. But nothing seems to stick. So one Reddit user mapped out different men’s naming trends over 70 years to identify which baby names have followed in Karen’s footsteps: rising through the 1950s until peaking around 1960 and then dropping steadily until almost becoming extinct by 2010.
Although some have compared the bob cut to its male counterpart, there hasn’t been as much support for it as for the more widespread term. This could be because Karen lacks distinctive physical features that would make her name particularly offensive to some people.
However, there are still plenty of sexism-related examples among male Karens. Examples include MAGA hat wearers, KKK supporters and Republican sympathizers.
If you have a story about an annoying, entitled and sexism-related male that you would like to share with us, use the hashtag #MaleKaren and we will publish it on our website and Twitter account.
r/Karen is a subreddit where internet users can voice their displeasure with middle-aged white women who use social privilege to talk down to waiters and clerks, using tears and other tactics for personal gain. The term was popularized in 2020 after one Reddit account parodied an ex-husband’s bitter rants against her; it has since become an insult referring to all such middle aged white women who use their privilege to make themselves look better.
Karen originally denoted a group of middle-class white women who resented and objectified people of color, especially in serving staff jobs. But it has since come to be used for any woman who yells or otherwise displays anger when she wants something she cannot get.
One recent instance of the “Karen” meme is a video of a white woman, identified as Cooper, calling police on a black man for asking for assistance reserving a parking spot in Central Park. This video went viral and exposed the racism behind Karens and other viral monikers which some claim can be misconstrued as racial profiling.
In addition to the now-famous video, there have been multiple instances of white women calling the police on Black people for seemingly malicious reasons. These calls often go by other names such as “Kidz Bop Karen” or “Stop Karen”.
Though many have objected to the Karen name, it is understandable given America’s longstanding racism problem. The term originated in a 2005 comedy routine by Dane Cook but has also been linked to other acts performed by comedians.
According to a senior editor at Know Your Meme, the term has an offensive origin: it’s used by middle-aged white women as an expression of entitlement that some perceive as classism. Some have speculated that it might be intended as a parody of Carolyn Bryant – the white woman who accused Emmett Till of sexual abuse which ultimately led to his lynching – or Mayella Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird (1960 novel).
Another possible explanation for the origin of Karen is that it derives from a Parthian word for House of Karen (or Caren), one of seven aristocratic families in ancient Iran. While some Iranian princes were named Karen before and after Islam, no records exist today of anyone called “Karen”.
Karen remains a popular nickname in viral culture, despite its controversial history. Some argue it can be an effective tool to identify women who have become out-of-control and act as an easy scapegoat for those wanting to assign blame for their own issues. But according to David Dennis Jr. a journalist who has written extensively on the dangers associated with assigning nicknames to overtly racist individuals, Karen may also serve to demonize those responsible for these acts.