Karen is used to refer to a particular kind of white woman who often acts out of entitlement, often making excuses. Other names for Karen include BBQ Becky and Central Park Karen.
Karens were popularized during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, when several white women who displayed racist or other inappropriate behavior were called out and labeled. Since then, this term has come to be applied broadly to any white person exhibiting similar conduct.
What Is a Karen?
If you’ve spent any time on social media, chances are you’ve come across Karens. This term was coined to refer to women who behave in an entitled, annoying or rude manner toward other people. What started off as an insult has since become part of culture – even being turned into memes!
Subreddits began using the term in December 2017 in response to an imagined middle-aged white woman known as “Trader Joe’s Karen” or “Walmart Karen.” Over time, other traits have been added: she’s often soccer mom; often divorced; always driving a suburban/minivan; frequently anti-vaxxer and often shopping at places like Target or Starbucks.
Karen may have become so well-known due to the way women are depicted in popular culture and media, including television shows, movies and novels. A number of acclaimed actresses and singers have adopted the name Karen including:
Critics have often associated the name Karen with negative connotations, leading them to use it as an insult against women of color. Critics claim it evokes stereotypes of angry, self-entitled white women who lack consideration for others when using this word as derogatory slang.
While some of Karen’s negative characteristics can be drawn from real-world observations, others are entirely fictional. Feminists have speculated that her stereotype stems from the dominance model theory of language ideologies which states that men use more forceful speech since they possess greater power within society.
As this term is a derogatory slur against women, some people use it as a form of protest against misogyny – leading some women who feel attacked to respond defensively as well as feeling like others are taking advantage of them. This has lead to much resentment among these individuals as they believe others are taking advantage of them and using them against one another.
Although Karens are commonly labeled with negative connotations, some actual Karens don’t see it as offensive and use the term as an easy way to tease friends. Other Karens, like Sun, admit feeling hurt by its use as a stereotype while still viewing it as a great way to promote racial and gender equality.
Being a Good Ally
Have you been online recently? Chances are, you have likely encountered people referring to someone as “a total Karen.” This term for a specific type of person has gained widespread use as it provides an easy way of characterizing those with entitled attitudes or those using their privilege to police minorities in public spaces or online. Karens can be male or female identifiers.
Karens can often be identified by their signature bleach blonde bob haircut and penchant for spray tan products; however, what truly characterizes their mindset. Karens often believe they’re entitled to certain benefits due to race, class or wealth status and do not acknowledge when their actions are selfish or rude; in addition, they frequently interfere in other people’s business and take on too much responsibility themselves.
While most Karens are female, male Karens exist too. While this stereotype has long existed, its impact may have increased recently with the antisocial Nintendo meme and “fuck you Karen shitposting trend.” Karen has long held negative cultural connotations – including Mean Girls character Karen from Mean Girls or Goodfellas meddling Karen character Karen from Goodfellas.
Dani Weller, customer service team leader of Bionic Feedback Software Company and provider of feedback software, says you can avoid becoming Karen by listening and being mindful of yourself and others’ behavior. According to Weller, remaining calm while listening carefully is key for building trust between parties involved and creating the best possible environment for collaboration and understanding.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, some Karens have taken to social media in the form of social calls outs for violating lockdown rules or using it as an excuse to unfairly police black and brown people. Such incidents recall code names used since slavery to describe white people’s exploitative behaviors towards black and brown people – something which could result in real violence and death if unchecked. It shouldn’t be difficult identifying and correcting Karen behavior – there should be an easy way of doing it that
Calling Out a Karen
If someone calls you Karen, they probably aren’t intending any harm by using it as an insult; rather they may use the term as a joke to mock your behavior or that of other white women. Instead of becoming angry over this remark, politely correct them by informing them your name is actually Karen and that you do not fit their stereotype of being one.
Karens often act in ways that benefit only themselves or are detrimental to others, without regard for how their actions impact other people, or can even be blind to racism. Karens tend to see their way as the only proper one – whether that means complaining on Nextdoor about nonwhite neighbors or calling police on Black men birdwatching in Central Park; Karens feel theirs is best and try imposing it upon everyone else.
The Karen meme first gained widespread traction on Reddit via the r/FuckYouKaren subreddit created in 2017 by Karmacop97 as a joke, then rapidly spread from there to all forms of media coverage during coronavirus lockdowns where white residents disregarded social distancing guidelines and used the pandemic as an excuse to police nonwhite neighbors in an unfair manner. It quickly gained prominence during these lockdowns due to people calling out white residents who violate social distancing standards or abuse their entitlement during this lockdown period; its usage skyrocketed during this lockdown due to people exposing white residents who disregard social distancing procedures or use pandemic pandemic as an excuse to unfairly police nonwhite neighbors in unfair manners during lockdown periods; these calls made especially prominent during coronavirus lockdowns when many white residents disregarded social distancing measures and treated it like another excuse unfairly police nonwhite neighbors unfairly; its usage increased during coronavirus lockdown as people called out white residents who disregarded social distancing measures and used pandemic pandemic as an excuse unfairly police nonwhite neighbors; its popularity spiked during coronavirus lockdown lockdown as people held out against residents disregard social distancing measures by treating pandemic as an excuse unfairly police nonwhite neighbors due to coronavirus lockdown, especially.
As part of pop culture, the phrase has become part of popular discourse; however, experts have voiced concern that its usage could become an act of discrimination against white women specifically, according to Know Your Meme online encyclopedia. According to some critics who use Know Your Meme for reference purposes only and use Karen as an example, Know Your Meme has had a negative effect on over one million American women with the name Karen who have taken offense at its use – leading them to feel unwanted by its existence.
However, most Karens don’t consider the term to be an offensive insult. When Sun, a 30-year-old writer from Philadelphia heard it for the first time she laughed it off as just another joke but acknowledged that this meme made her feel excluded from a larger discussion on how white women contribute subtly and subliminally to white supremacy.
Nika White, a leadership consultant and diversity and inclusion expert from Greenville, South Carolina agrees that Karens are not necessarily discriminated against due to their actions being seen as self-serving or entitled. Instead, according to White, their presence serves as a reminder that all people (Karens included!) possess the potential for unwise actions that could cause issues for others.
Avoiding Being a Karen
Karens are people who behave with entitlement, believing the world revolves around them and acting out with arrogance and selfishness. Karens can often be found complaining about unimportant matters – and are usually female; though male versions exist too. Their antics have become popular targets of online mockery due to social media.
Karen became especially well-known during the coronavirus pandemic, when white women were accused of behaving poorly due to being Karens. Examples included “Central Park Karen,” who called police on a Black man birdwatching in Manhattan’s Central Park; and “coughing Karen,” who coughed on customers at a bagel shop. Furthermore, this term came to represent those who disregarded public health guidelines or used pandemic as an excuse to unfairly police other people’s behaviors.
Karen can often be identified by her bob haircut, driving a minivan and wearing rhinestones or posters that read “Live, Laugh, Love.” Additionally, she may be found as either a soccer mom, divorcee, anti-vaxxer and may sometimes claim entitlement or become angry easily. Since becoming popular memes have added additional characteristics such as entitlement and anger issues as additional traits for Karen to display.
One way to avoid being Karen is to understand your surroundings and consider others’ needs before acting. Furthermore, it’s essential that you recognize and acknowledge your privilege. Not everyone has access to similar opportunities as yourself.
Do not be intimidated from speaking up against injustice; use your voice and stand up against injustice wherever you see it. If Karen acts inappropriately, call her out!
Being a Karen is easy. To avoid becoming one, remember to mind your own business and respect authority, rather than becoming an overbearing bully who takes up too much space in society. Be polite – the world would be better off if everyone got along!