Karen Gross is an author, lawyer and professor who currently teaches a course on trauma at Rutgers School of Social Work. Previously she served as college president and was senior policy advisor in the Department of Education.
These days, it’s impossible to access the internet without encountering at least one “Karen,” acting like she owns it all. Though the meme has existed for some time now, it has taken on new significance since coronavirus emerged.
For example: Karen Gross
Karen Gross is an educator, author, and consultant who has held roles as a teacher, lawyer, college president, senior policy advisor in Washington D.C. She writes books for both children and adults such as the Lady Lucy series; speaks on topics relating to student success and handling educational crises; blogs regularly for media outlets including PBS, NPR Cross Currents, The New York Times Reader’s Digest Thrive Global Insider etc.
Trauma Doesn’t Stop at the School Door was published by Teachers College Press in 2020 and her publications, articles and presentations explore the impact of trauma in students’ lives as well as ways that educators can be agents of healing. She serves as contributing editor to Education Reform magazine as well as being on its editorial board for book review section in The New York Times book review section.
Recently, Karen was an innocuous name widely given out at birth across many countries. But since its introduction onto the internet as a derogatory slur for entitled white women who use their privilege to complain and make demands. Due to this stigmatization of Karen as a name choice among many women named Karen themselves, many have begun using more exotic or feminine alternatives as replacement names.
One Karen from Massachusetts told the New York Post she can no longer escape the memes, stereotypes and hostility associated with her name – so instead opted for an original Gaelic-sounding name of her own that will also become legal name change.
Karen specializes in English and Italian literature from the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries as a professor at Lewis & Clark. She teaches medieval literature and literary theory, with research interests including reception of classical texts in Italy, book history studies, Dante studies, and literary-art relationships. She has received grants from the Mellon Foundation, New York Public Library and Huntington Library to pursue her research on illuminated Apocalypse manuscripts. Citizen Discourse was born out of her deep concern for our polarized society and her belief that dialogue can change hearts, minds and systems for the better. She enjoys reading the Sunday New York Times as well as listening to Bruce Springsteen; in her free time she can be found reading or watching Bruce Springsteen concerts – she lives with her husband and two children in Boca Raton Florida where she serves as notary public and volunteer with FirstLantic Healthcare where she oversees marketing and promotion efforts for home health care services provided through them.
For example: Karen Steele
Karen has become synonymous with an archetypical white woman. While the name originally made popular by girls born during the 1950s and 60s, its association has come to mean an infuriating busybody with blonde choppy bob hair who complains about everything; such as being called out by coworkers as being rude; demanding to speak to managers; blocking off grocery store express lines so nobody else can get through; “Karen” memes have taken hold and she can be found everywhere!
You’ve likely come across the meme of middle-aged Caucasian Karen complaining about things such as her iced skinny vanilla latte or grocery store experience on social media, sparking much outrage from other Karens in real life and online. Many Karens report feeling harassed or threatened by complete strangers; as a result they may struggle to feel confident when going out alone and outwardly experiencing physical danger.
Karens we encounter in the news and on social media are only a tiny portion of all those who go by her name; due to this stereotype’s widespread acceptance, it’s easy to forget there are plenty of Karens out there who don’t fit this negative mold. Legally changing their names from Karen is done both to distance themselves from this negative mold as well as prevent harassment or social exclusion caused by this name.
At stake for these women is not just personal experience but the belief that Karen meme embodies problems in how feminism is currently practiced – they feel it prioritizes white cisgender women while failing to acknowledge how racial privilege and supremacy continue to permeate our society.
Women often make comments when telling their friends of their desire to change their name, usually tease her about it and sometimes mock it. Yet women making this move often believe it would have been approved of by their parents given Jewish Americans’ longstanding tradition of altering names to avoid discrimination; also changing one’s name doesn’t just affect politically correctness — it also alters one’s way of engaging with society which has profound effects. By changing one’s name they also change how they interact with the world – an extremely powerful thing. If this sounds like something that interests you then keep reading for more information!