Have you noticed more and more people calling you Karen on social media recently? This internet slang name refers to entitled white middle-aged women who can quickly get angry.
Karens can be aggressively petty and quickly provoked into anger. Although they claim to know what’s right, they don’t always follow through.
What is a Karen?
Karens are people who act in an offensive or disruptive manner, often appearing as middle-aged women. They’re known to act in this way because they feel entitled, prudish, pushy or racist towards service staff members – often making life unpleasant for all around.
“Karen” has become a pejorative term for people who behave badly and act self-entitled, prompting controversy as well as praise: being kind is powerful! However, this term also sends out a positive message: being considerate can have immense benefits.
Since at least 2010, this slang term has been making waves on social media. It gained immense popularity during the US coronavirus pandemic when some self-important individuals refused to wear face masks and began calling service staff rude.
As a response to their snobbish and entitled behavior, people began using derogatory terms like Karen. Cleve Evans of Bellevue University in Nebraska pointed out that names had long been used this way.
Evans mentioned Karen as being one of several derogatory terms used as slurs against women for centuries, adding that names like Paddy and Mick served as anti-Irish epithets during this time while Guido often associated with Italians.
Many of these slurs are rooted in class prejudice, leading to widespread labeling of wealthy individuals as “Ken.” This term became particularly prominent after Patricia and Mark McCloskey of St Louis were seen brandishing guns at protesters outside their home and were photographed pointing them at protestors passing by their home in Missouri.
Dane Cook first popularized the term Karen as an informal term in 2005 through his comedy routines and popular movies such as 2004’s Mean Girls which features her as one of its characters, Karen.
Karen was inspired by a real person named Karen, who wears an asymmetrical bob haircut and asks to speak to the manager. Karen is extremely spoiled and entitled, yet unaware of life outside her bubble.
After the Covid pandemic, people began refusing to wear masks and shouted insults at service workers, refusing to acknowledge risks associated with coronavirus and refusing to acknowledge risks; using the term Karen became popular slur in the US as people refused to acknowledge risks and refused acknowledge their privilege as white individuals. It has also become used as a derogatory term describing those who hold conspiracy theories about coronavirus infections; its usage also being applied against people who refuse acknowledge risks associated with coronavirus infections or those who refuse acknowledge risks or those acting like white privilege.
Do Karens Call the Police?
“Karen” has come to represent white women who act entitled and exhibit racist tendencies, or who show such tendencies on social media. The term refers to those women who throw tantrums in Starbucks stores or call the manager when something bothers them – often times without reason.
But these women can become dangerous when they go too far in asserting their privilege. Their actions often appear rude or criminal, yet these same women know how to use it against Black people, which puts everyone else at risk.
Many cases making headlines recently involve white women determined to achieve what they desire regardless of the consequences for others. One such woman was fired from an investment firm for calling police on a Black man for asking her to put his dog on a leash in Central Park.
Amy Cooper is better known as Central Park Karen. In a viral video posted online, she confronted a Black birder for failing to put their dog on a leash; later calling police and alleging an African American male is endangering her life.
She filed a lawsuit against her former employer and was later found not liable, sparking international outrage and leading to new hate crime laws being implemented globally.
According to The Root, there have been multiple instances where so-called Karens (white women who call police on Black people for any minor reason) have called upon police services for no apparent cause – for instance when seeing Black protestors on her balcony in St Louis or when an “Karen” in Seattle called out a Black person for standing on someone’s property without permission.
Thank goodness there are people who don’t fall for these scams so easily. One such person was Gregory Mcadory, who recently recorded a TikTok video that has since been seen over 1.4 million times and features him and a friend shoveling snow away from an elderly woman’s house, prompting her to shout at them until eventually calling police for assistance.
Do Karens Wear Masks?
People across the US have been resisting government recommendations to wear masks during coronavirus outbreaks. So-called “Karens” do not adhere to CDC recommendations and insist they have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to donning one is necessary.
But these Karens also have a dark side – some have even been witnessed throwing tantrums in protest against stores.
“Meltdown content,” or videos showing shoppers shouting and throwing temper tantrums in public spaces has proven highly popular on social media, particularly YouTube and Twitter. Millions have watched these clips.
At times, these meltdowns even make headlines – like when police had to remove a woman from Trader Joe’s after she refused to wear a face mask after becoming sick.
Though these public meltdown trends may provide amusing entertainment, they do nothing to alter behavior or alter anyone’s belief system; instead they reinforce an in-group superiority complex.
These videos often depict conservative nationalists and right-wing activists who feel their freedom of speech or movement is being restricted by authority rules. According to Gary Fine, a sociology professor at Northwestern University, this form of anti-mask activism stems from general mistrust of government while placing great value on individual rights.
Anti-masks who refuse to be told what to do often lack a clear understanding of why these policies exist or how they function; making it all the more challenging for these individuals to comprehend why and how their own behavior has changed as a result of being told what to do.
One especially upset Karen was recently seen outside a Mother’s Market & Kitchen in California yelling at customers who refused to wear face masks.
This woman was apparently angered that she wasn’t permitted to buy food inside the store and became distressed, screaming at a security guard while also threatening legal action against him.
These meltdowns can often be seen as another form of resentment. Unfortunately, however, this resentment has potentially fatal repercussions; such acts as assault and murder could become all the more deadly during times of public health crises.
Do Karens Call the Manager?
As someone of color, it may be hard to accept that someone would refer to you as Karen – yet this term has become an informal label for middle-aged white women who use their privilege and power to demand their way without regard for others’ feelings and needs.
Karen first came online as a humorous take on entitlement in 2014. It started off as a parody of reality TV star Kate Gosselin, who has long been accused of abusing her status to bully employees and customers alike.
Over time, however, Karen became more of a pejorative term, especially as its popularity spread among Generation Xers – the generation between baby boomers and millennials. What began as an innocent joke about an attractive woman demanding to speak to management eventually took on sinister overtones; mask-wearing Karens quickly gained momentum as did racist attitudes among their ranks.
Some “Karens” have taken extreme actions, even filing suit against Starbucks when they refused to wear masks for service. Others have been seen throwing sneakers at retail staff or damaging displays and calling police, leading to them receiving tickets for disorderly conduct.
Recent video footage showing a Californian woman fighting with staff at Red Lobster shows just one instance of this type of sexy-crazed, entitled white woman creating disruption in public spaces. She was later seen throwing fits over a store’s face mask policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen has become a viral trend on social media recently, posting hundreds of videos showing her attacking staff at restaurants, shops and other businesses that do not permit her to wear a mask. At a time of pandemic pandemic and many state laws mandating people cover their faces in public places while in public, being Karen can be particularly hazardous.
Karens United has also become a social movement, with thousands of women signing up for its Facebook page to share stories and discuss racism and other racial issues. Many see it as a reaction to today’s social justice activism, offering an opportunity for difficult conversations that have long been avoided – as well as to remember that Karen is a person, not a stereotype.