Karen is a ubiquitous term used to identify women who conform to certain characteristics, both physically and intellectually. Online, Karen has become an insult used against privileged, entitled, rude and demanding women–typically white middle-aged females.
During the Covid pandemic of 2020, this term quickly became an internet meme to describe people who refused to abide by health guidelines while making noise about it.
Don’t take it personally
When people say things that upset you, it is important not to take it personally. Remember that their anger or negative reactions about you do not have anything to do with you personally and shouldn’t dictate your response; for instance telling someone they smell, telling them it’s their responsibility or accusing them of something similar.
Recently, “Karen” has become a trendy social media meme following an incident wherein a white woman called the police on Black people barbecuing in a park and became known as “BBQ Becky.”
White women have long been called Karen; however, this slang term has recently become increasingly prevalent. Its use often serves to mock middle-aged white women perceived to be entitled or acting inappropriately in public settings.
There can be numerous reasons for someone calling you Karen, with one being they find it funny; but that does not make it inoffensive or discriminatory.
As Roly Sussex, an emeritus professor of applied linguistics at the University of Queensland notes, it’s also important not to take offense when someone calls you Karen because that term has an offensive connotation often used by racists or bigots to describe privileged people who may not always act with good intentions. “Karen” can also refer to people from certain groups.
This term originated during Amy Cooper’s incident in Central Park where she called police on a Black man who requested she put her dog on a leash. Since that incident has taken place worldwide and within the US itself, people have used derogatory terms as pejorative descriptions to define archetypes or stereotypes.
Histories show us this type of targeting can have devastating repercussions for Black communities and individuals, yet it remains an everyday form of oppression. Even if someone calling you Karen is just kidding around, it still feels like they’re trying to control and shame you into conforming.
Don’t be offended
Karen is a pejorative term used to refer to various social norms and behaviors believed to be connected with white privilege. If someone calls you a Karen, don’t take it personally as this may just be meant as an insult; it doesn’t automatically imply they are racist or sexist.
Karen is often used to refer to a white woman who displays superior behavior in public and typically resides in her late 30s or 40s. Karen typically hails from a middle-class background, with blonde or highlighted highlights and short bobbed locks characteristic of “speak to the manager” hair styles.
“Karen” can be difficult to define and understand, yet is an increasingly popular stereotype of middle-class white American women who believe their way is the only right path and refuses to accommodate other opinions or compromise. She became popular during the coronavirus pandemic as well as protests for racial justice protests.
The definition of Karen can be difficult to pinpoint; however, many commentators believe its origin lies within an episode of Mean Girls comedy film. Many commentators speculated that its name came from Karen Smith – an individual seen as slow to respond during one scene in particular in Mean Girls film.
Some believe the term was first coined on Twitter by Black users during the 2010s; however, its initial popularity may have stemmed from Reddit’s sub-forum r/f***youkaren, set up in 2017 by a teenager amused at what other people had posted against his former wife online.
As internet debate over coronavirus became more polarized, Karen came to refer to white women who engaged in viral videos seen as selfish or racist – such as Amy Cooper calling the police on a Black man asking her to curb his dog in Central Park.
Karens are an unfortunate reality of American culture that are slowly being exposed by media coverage and social activism. But this doesn’t mean they should go unpunished; rather they should be identified. A growing movement encourages this through #andthenKarensnapped which calls out these perpetrators of such acts and allows people to identify them publicly.
Don’t laugh it off
American society has made it increasingly easy to use people’s names as pejorative monikers of their character or archetype, from “Scrooge” and “Mammy” to “Stepin Fetchit.” Names serve to reinforce social norms.
As previously mentioned, it’s all too often used against women and people of color as a form of racism, making it hard to know how best to respond when someone calls us Karens or calls out on this type of thing. When this occurs we should never shrug it off or laugh it off as something minor – instead take note.
It remains unknown where this insult came from; however, its possible that its roots lie with Karen itself as it was popular among baby boomers in the 1960s and is associated with middle-class white Americans according to Social Security data.
Many different Twitter users have used the slur “Karen” against bird-watchers who threatened violence. After one incident involving “Karen,” she contacted police to help deal with him and called for assistance.
Using this slur is not only an insult, but it is also a telltale sign of racism and racial inequality in someone’s personal life. Women and people of color tend to use such terms against white men who exhibit racist behaviors.
Recently, an Instagram user known as “Fajita Karen” was called out on Twitter after posting a picture of fajitas with cheese that quickly gained widespread acclaim and quickly become the center of an online debate.
Critics of the term claim it’s an insulting and misogynist term designed to demean middle-aged white women who call out racism in other people. One Philadelphia community organiser used it as an insulting term against those trying to assert their rights, such as middle-aged white women who voice them out against racism.
Don’t ignore it
“Karen” has become a derogatory term used to refer to women perceived as entitled or demanding more than expected from them. The word has been employed both in jokes, memes, viral videos as well as real life situations like when a white woman called 911 on a black bird watcher in Central Park last year.
Karens are typically middle-aged white women with bob haircuts who tend to be petty or racist – as seen in Amy Cooper’s video of calling 911 on a black birdwatcher in Central Park and uploading the footage onto social media, leading to calls for racial justice legislation in response.
Soon thereafter, a woman who refused to cover her face while shopping when coronavirus first entered the US was given the nickname of Karen; since then it has also come to refer to people who share misinformation or conspiracy theories online about coronavirus infection.
Though initially used to refer to women who appear entitled or abusive, the name has now come to be seen as an offensive slur against all women. Feminist commentators have frequently condemned its use as misogynistic and racist; British blogger Julie Bindel likened its usage to how names such as Sharon or Tracy were dismissed when used against younger working-class women during 1980s Britain.
Karen” is also a term often associated with white privilege, often understood to mean “whiteness”. However, the name has actually been around since at least the 18th century – its origin can even be traced back to one of the characters from Goodfellas!
Urban dictionary defines “Karen” as someone who goes out of their way to push their beliefs onto others or becomes emotionally charged when cornered; when called upon for assistance they may threaten or call authorities; If someone calls you a Karen it would be best to respond politely by correcting their information such as your real name which could be Shaneequa for example.