“Okay, Karen.” I saw that on social media last week, and actually checked the name of the person being addressed. Not Karen. Suddenly it was happening everywhere. A shorthand form of insult meant to be a drop the mic moment of debate victory. What does it mean? Am I (even though male) a Karen? Are you? Gildshire decided much more research was necessary. What (or who) is a Karen?
“Karen demanded to speak to the manager.”
Apparently, that is a good way to recognize a Karen at the local Burger King. Wikipedia describes a Karen like this:
“Karen is a colloquial term that is used to typify a person perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary.”
Like Gildshire, you might be only learning about Karen right now. The Covid-19 pandemic brought Karen into sharp relief, though it’s been a thing for a while. Some say the name came from “Mean Girls.” Others say it came from “Goodfellas,” even though I have seen that one about five times and don’t remember the reference. Still, others insist it came from Dane Cook.
Why did Karen become such a thing right now?
While most of us are staying home, wearing masks, and social distancing, Karen isn’t afraid to express herself. She is obsessed with individual rights, (Hey, she may not be female!) while trampling on the rights of others. All along, through her own personal struggle, she posts videos. Her favorite clothier requires a mask. Karen never wears a mask. That’s video-worthy. Karen’s salon is closed. That’s another good reason for Karen to post a video of herself, with her hair perfectly coiffed, talking about the suffering that is Karen’s existence.
So, in short, Karen only cares about Karen.
Yes, but it goes a little deeper. Karen only cares about how Karen is grievously put upon. Karen made the national news last week when a white lady in New York City’s Central Park called the cops on a black man after he asked her to leash her dog. The man described it this way:
“That’s when I started video recording with my iPhone, and when her inner Karen fully emerged and took a dark turn.” The video went viral, and “Karen’s” employer suspended her.
Does anyone care that this is a slur toward real-life Karens?
Yes, some see “Karen” as a sexist slur or even hate speech. But others point out that Karen is many things, besides the stereotypical mid-40s white woman with short, layered blonde hair. Anyone who behaves with entitlement is a Karen.
You see, the world was made for Karen, and populated for Karen’s pleasure. The minimum-wage retail worker reminding Karen that the express line is for 12 items or less (Karen’s basket clocks in at 42 items.) is always wrong.
Fortunately, though there are too many Karens among us, most of us know we are interconnected species. How I behave, particularly in a pandemic world, affects others. It matters that I follow the express lane rules and that I offer a smile to the minimum-wage worker, who is afraid she may catch the virus. So care for one another. What (or who) is a Karen? Now that you know what to notice, she will be easy to spot…even if she is a guy. Don’t be a Karen.