Karens are white women known for sporting the “can I speak to the manager” haircut. They tend to be arrogant, arrogant and self-centered – often using their relative privilege to report minor or even nonexistent offenses against people of colour.
This meme began on Reddit when user “karmacop97” created a subreddit dedicated to his bitter ex-wife post, but has quickly spread throughout social media platforms and beyond.
What is a Meme?
Marketing businesses must stay abreast of current trends and memes are an effective way to do just that. Memes are viral content that capture a cultural moment or mood and use it to send a humorous message – from politics and sports to popular culture and more! They usually come equipped with an accompanying hashtag so people can share the meme among themselves.
Memes are a form of social currency that are spread via platforms such as Twitter and Facebook or the trendy app TikTok. Memes typically come in short forms that can range from humorous or controversial memes, designed to capture an audience and resonate with those who see them.
Since the Covid pandemic began, many memes have gained in popularity; one such meme is known as Karen. This term refers to any white woman who acts out of line and can be rude; many people use this meme to call out neighbors, family members and strangers who act arrogantly or entitledly with this trope.
Though its exact source remains unknown, several theories exist as to its genesis. One possibility suggests the popularity of Karen may have gained momentum on social media due to users abbreviating names for memes; additionally it might have gained ground due to being an increasingly common middle-aged female name.
Others point to Reddit user “karmacop97,” who created a subreddit dedicated to ridiculing an imagined Karen character. This Karen was described as an annoying, arrogant woman who belittled service industry workers while demanding to speak with management over minor inconveniences like an iced skinny vanilla latte with too many ice cubes.
Some have asserted that this meme has become an outlet to mock white women while simultaneously ignoring racism and classism. For example, it has been used by some to ridicule clueless, privileged white women who call the police on black birders or community members because they feel wronged.
The Origins of the Karen Meme
Karens are middle-aged white women who embody stereotypes of sexist, racist or ageist behavior in meme culture. For instance, these types of individuals might demand to speak with the manager in Starbucks or call the police on black people who walk their dog through Central Park without prior notification of police presence. These women typically sport specific hairstyles and drive minivans with “Live, Laugh Love” posters on them; their popularity rose even more during the coronavirus pandemic where this term became commonly used to refer to those protesting social distancing measures or using this outbreak as an opportunity to police others.
There is no definitive answer as to where this term originated; however, some have speculated it may have come from amusingly acidic comments posted by an anonymous Reddit user known as Karmacop97 on Reddit. These posts proved so engaging and amusing that an eager high school student named Skeptickitty started an entire subreddit dedicated to turning Karmacop97’s angriness into memes called r/F**kYouKaren on Reddit.
After initially becoming popular on Reddit and Tumblr, Karencore began spreading across social media during summer 2020. At that point, “Karencore” gained momentum as a term satirizing fashion and aesthetics associated with stereotypical Karen figures like an asymmetrical bob cut with minivans equipped with rhinestones and playlists featuring 2000s pop and rock music as an aesthetic choice.
Critics have challenged this meme’s core idea that if you act like Karen, then being called one is justified. They point out that Karen peaked in popularity around 1965 and that many typical Karens depicted in memes are boomers – hence its use indicating generational discrimination as it unfairly targets women who are trying to navigate modern technology.
Others have pointed out that the Karen meme is part of an extensive history of jokes directed at middle-aged, white women and is not necessarily meant as sexist or racist commentary. Yet its widespread appeal has lead many people to argue it must stop or at least toned down.
What is a Karen?
Karen is a derogatory term used to refer to white women who act obnoxious and entitled. During the coronavirus lockdown, this term gained popularity on social media as it was used to describe people who disobeyed health guidelines or were acting above them; many women who refused to wear masks were labeled Karens and criticised for their behavior; though not everyone supports its usage; some critics consider the Karen meme to be sexist while it has also been used against people perceived as racist and held prejudiced individuals – while other used it as an attack tool against perceived racism or bias against other races while some even call out misogynist individuals; some even call out individuals for such actions, using it against misogynist views against female victims as well.
Karens can vary, but generally speaking they’re seen as older white women who act rudely and believe their privilege gives them carte blanche to behave this way. Given its prevalence it’s no wonder this term has come to be used this way.
Notable examples of Karens include calling the police on an elderly man selling lemonade without a permit or white woman calling on black neighbor over imagined slights; and white women calling on black neighbors over perceived slights by white women (Karens). Memes have emerged to illustrate these situations such as “Fajita Karen”, who calls the police over her inability to eat her fajitas without cheese; or “Respect The Drip Karen”, whose husband posts a TikTok video complaining she won’t let him wear his new outfit and won’t allow him out despite him wanting out leaving home! The internet has even come up with memes depicting these scenarios such as these that bring attention and justice from all parties involved – two stories!
Karen has long been popular, particularly during times of political unrest and major health crises. But its rise to fame only increased during 2020 – an election year with high tensions across race, culture, and gender lines. While its exact origin remains debated by scholars, there’s no question it became popular through social media users; regardless of where its meme-like appeal began it has hit upon an existing culture of racism and entitlement in our society.
The Current State of the Karen Meme
Before recently, most viewers who saw videos featuring “Karen” likely laughed. She represented a stereotypical middle-aged white woman with an asymmetrical bob who demanded to speak to a manager while engaging in racist behaviors. As the pandemic spread and national conversations regarding race and police brutality became the focal point, video clips featuring Karens became less comical and more troubling. Karen-spotting has become an increasingly popular national pastime since COVID-19 made this form of behavior so easily identifiable.
Linguists have endeavored to trace the source of Karen as a meme; evidence can be found anywhere from Reddit posts to Mean Girls. Furthermore, considering that Karen peaked as one of America’s most popular baby names in 1965 and has long been associated with conservative suburban womanhood, this term may continue for some time to come.
Though not a direct slur, Karen can carry some negative connotations when used by many to suggest white women are naturally more privileged and entitled. Yet it is important to remember that this stereotype was created and amplified through social media platforms; there may actually be people named Karen out there who do not want their name being associated with such language.
Though she claims no one has ever seriously called her a Karen, 23-year-old Karen Shim of Philadelphia acknowledges the hurtful and demeaning implications of such terms as Karen stereotype. Shim finds it offensive when people refer to her using this label even though they do not intend it as an compliment; additionally, Shim points out how this stereotype encourages white women who use privilege or victimhood against marginalized groups by creating an air of superiority among themselves.