Is it time to cut some slack to the millions of Karens out there?

The recent COVID headlines have brought a slew of Karen stories and memes like this recent one Video of ‘Costco Karen’ Goes Viral after she throws a temper Tantrum when asked to Wear Face Mask  

A recent New York Times feature, "A Brief History of ‘Karen’ examines the recent phinomina of a moniker that has morphed into a symbol of racism and white privilege. The features explains that in 1965, it was the third-most-popular baby name in the United States. In 2018, it was the 635th — and today it’s even less popular. How did Karens fall so far?

The NYT writer muses Karen” now roams restaurants and stores, often without a mask during this coronavirus era, spewing venom and calling the authorities to tattle, usually on people of color and often putting them in dangerous situations. And while this archetype had previously been called “Permit Patty” or “BBQ Becky,” “Karen” has stuck.  


In another NYT feature, Philip Galanes muses "I try not to be “a Karen,” but I think this joke has gone too far." ("My Name Is Karen. What Can I Do About the Meme?")

Another feature in VOA (What It's Like to Encounter a 'Karen') examines this in detail

“I think that the term took on a more serious meaning in the past year, given that it's kind of associated with what we call, on the website, a white cop caller nickname,” he says, “which is this trend of videos of white people — typically ... white women — calling the police on people of color for just usually living their lives or doing their jobs.” 

The turning point for the Karen meme, Schimkowitz says, came in May when a woman called the police after a Black birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park asked her to put a leash on her dog in keeping with a local ordinance. The man, a 57-year-old Harvard-educated science editor, recorded the encounter during which the woman threatens to tell police there is “an African American man threatening my life.” 

Karen Kirk in a qctimes blog muses 

 As one of 1.1 million women in the United States named Karen, seeing my name used as a randomly selected, lazy label for racist, privileged white women behaving badly is soul-crushing.

I am a nonracist "Karen" who has sent masks to family and friends since February to keep them safe, who has marched in Washington several times these past three-and-a-half years, beginning with the day after President Donald Trump's Inauguration. And I am sure there are many other like-minded women named Karen out there.

We Karens moved through several grades. We were well-behaved, even humble (it was a Catholic grade school, after all) — mostly quiet, friendly and cheerful. None of us was a child of privilege, having grown up in a mostly working-class neighborhood. 


Is it time to cut some slack to the millions of Karens out there? Many writers acknowledge that for some women with the name Karen, these videos have made them outraged, of course, but also, at times, ashamed.



Comments

  1. What about John's? Not all of us pick up prostitutes. This has been going on for decades in the media. Are you going to defend us ? "I'm going to the John" we aren't toilets!!!! 0 outrage and zero blog posts.

    What about "peeping Tom"? Not all Tom's are creeps. Are you going to defend us?

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