Is it a prejudicial, ‘woman-hating slur’ to call a white woman ‘Karen’?

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When Beyonce sang about Becky With The Good Hair on her Lemonade album, she set off a firestorm within certain groups of women – Beckys, if you will – about whether it’s some kind of slur to call someone Becky. Beyonce wasn’t the first person to call someone Becky as a pejorative and she wasn’t the last. Over the past, I don’t know, five or six years, Becky has become a catch-all name for someone basic AF. All the while, “Karen” has risen up as another catch-all name for a white woman who weaponizes her white privilege and then cries crocodile tears when she’s called out. Those white women who call the cops on black kids playing, or black people having a picnic in the park, or black people entering a building? Those women are all Karens. But maybe Karen is the true victim here??

This tweet went viral yesterday because… it’s like Peak Karen to complain that being called Karen is a prejudicial slur. It’s doing the most to convince people that you too are being “oppressed,” oppressed by people on the internet calling you Karen, oppressed by the same groups of people whom you oppress daily. Plus, I think this just went viral because we’re all at home and desperate to fight and/or dunk on internet Karens. So it was with the Beckys several years ago – I remember there were women (Beckys and a handful of Karens) absolutely convinced that calling someone “Becky” was racist, racist against white women. This Karen nonsense shall pass, I hope.

PS… The photos are of famous Karens. Like, real Karens. Karen Gillan, Karen Elson and Karen Allen.

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176 Responses to “Is it a prejudicial, ‘woman-hating slur’ to call a white woman ‘Karen’?”

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  1. Nicole r says:

    This has to be trolling, right?

    • Helena Handcart says:

      To be fair, that comment was from Julie Bindel, who could start a fight in an empty room.

      • Lorelei says:

        Julie is also apparently a well-known TERF, so should probably just be ignored anyway (in addition to the fact that this Karen comment is ridiculous).

      • Matty says:

        Do those who refer to any white woman as “Karen” … do they want to insult or start a fight?

    • Janet says:

      @Matty: I think that any term that is aimed at and defined by a particular race/sex and is derogatory is racist/sexist by definition. Stereotypes are assumptions based on preconceived ideas and racist/sexist terms are all stereotypes.

    • charo says:

      Do black women like to be called “Jemima”?

      • Otaku fairy says:

        False equivalent, and you know this. This is like comparing being called a jerk, asshole, or tyrant to calling a Jewish person the K-word (you know, the REAL K-word). All name-calling is not equal.

  2. Lightpurple says:

    My sister Karen loves the Karen memes.

    However, the Becky and Karen thing raises a question for me, why are there no similar pejorative uses of men’s names?

    • emmy says:

      Chad? If that doesn’t fit, this seems like a project. :-)

      The Karen memes are funny because they’re true. As white women, we need to be much much louder when these Karens give us a bad name by being awful. And learn how to take some criticism as well. It’s a process and we need to speed it up. I used to just let other white women spew their venomous bullshit because I didn’t want to be viewed as aggressive and combative, especially when men were around. I’m 36 now, I stopped caring years ago. But I could’ve done much better when I was younger.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        +1.

      • Mac says:

        Chad is what incels call men who are attractive. Let’s not make anything incel a meme.

      • Caty Page says:

        Isn’t “Chad” a RedPill name for an attractive but basic man? It seems different since it’s not based on Chad using his privilege to deny, deflect, and play victim after making a racial agression or microaggression.

        I vote “Brad.”

        Let’s test it: “Sure, Brad. ‘Those people’ did look suspicious throwing a BBQ on 4th of July on a public beach.” Insert massive eyeroll at Brad.

      • WTW says:

        @Lightpurple, I’m going to tell you something that you don’t want to hear: The average white man does not behave like the average “Karen.” Think about all of the videos of white people calling the police on people of color for barbecuing, selling water, trying to get into their apartment, etc. In how many of these videos were white men instigating anything against POCs? The behavior that the name Karen is used to encapsulate does not describe the behavior of most white men. I’m a black woman and not really a threat to most white men. They don’t go out of their way to put me down or put me in my place, likely because they already have power and don’t really need to. This doesn’t mean that white men aren’t problematic, but white women are very problematic in my day-to-day interactions with them, be it in the workplace or just as I go about my day. One racial justice activist I follow on Twitter said that white women are much more triggering to her than white men are. I agree, and so do many black women. It’s like white women resent that they can’t have the power that white men do and spend their lives exercising their white privilege by leveling microaggressions at POCs and exhibiting generally nasty but underhanded behavior. White men, in my experience, don’t behave like this and are generally easier for me to get along with. There’s no white male equivalent to a “Karen,” in my opinion, because white men don’t have to be passive-aggressive, condescending busybodies to wield power in this society.

      • wisca says:

        WTF WTW? Your defense of white male patriarchy is ahistorical. White men subjugate EVERYBODY. White men in America own the means of production and almost all the land. White men owned the enslaved & essentially their white wives. White women couldn’t wear pants to work, own a credit card, or get a mortgage on their own until the second half of the 20th C.

        Black men got the vote–right out of enslavement–BEFORE white women with college educations. Obama won & Hillary was vilified. Biden won & Warren was vilified. Patriarchy undermines all women.

        Where I agree with you is that MANY (MOST?) white women in America hold on to white power and use it as a cudgel against BIPOC. White women were/are some of the most vicious practioners of white supremacist violence and rage against black men and women themselves & by proxy. White women lift up their white husbands, fathers, & sons because it enriches them. BUT NONE OF THIS ABSOLVES WHITE MEN WHO HAVE RAPED & PILLAGED the entire planet (People & the natural world).

      • WTW says:

        @Wisca, I know history very well, and the way you responded to my post pretty much sums up Karen-ness. I’m not discussing history here, which I know very well. I’m discussing day-to-day interactions with white people, during which white women are consistently more problematic than white men, in my experience. Are you a black woman? I’ve been a black female all of my life, and I’m telling you my experience and the experience of other black women I know. White women have consistently made my work life and day-to-day interactions more difficult by behaving in condescending and passive aggressive ways. As for you bringing up slavery, you do know that white women owned slaves and brutalized them as well, right? You do know that white women took part in lynching parties and shouted slurs and threw bricks at buses of black children trying to integrate schools, right along with white men? That you think white men are solely responsible for the oppression of black people in this country speaks volumes. I’m not defending white patriarchy. In fact, I’m arguing because we live in a patriarchal society, white men already have power and do not have to wield it in the petty dehumanizing ways that white women do. Until you’re ready to have that conversation, you’ll never really understand what black women in society go through.

      • Jezebeelzebub says:

        My friends and I have been using “Jeffrey” or “Jeff” for years to indicate a certain type of whiny, entitled a-hole guy.

      • osito says:

        @WISCA — I don’t know if you’re a WoC or not, and I don’t want to assume, but I do think you missed the point with WTW’s message. It doesn’t appear to me that you two are opposed to each other, simply that WTW wasn’t talking about Patriarchy as a whole or even Capital O Oppression. WTW was highlighting a specific form of racism that she has encountered, and that she’s encountered more directly than other forms. That you bring up an argument used by white suffragettes to re-disenfranchise black men by lowering their perceived status to that of one “below” white women says a lot about your understanding of intersectionality within feminism, both historically and in the contemporary milieu. Seriously, some of them *changed their minds* about abolition because black men were given the right to vote (and then repeatedly disenfranchised in other ways: poll tax, threats, actual lynching, the entirety of the criminal justice system disproportionally effecting black communities and then not allowing those convicted of crimes the right to vote, list goes on).

        There’s some really great reading about this stuff that might help heal some of the rifts we experience as women. Just two that I *love* Dr. Brittany Cooper’s “Eloquent Rage” and Rebecca Traister’s “Good and Mad” — which includes a surprisingly good section on why black women *might* feel a way about white feminism from a white woman’s perspective, and might illuminate some of the stuff that we simply can’t get into in a comments section (even this really awesome one). I hope we all do the work that we need to do so heal.

    • Jade says:

      I’m not American so I could be wrong but I think calling someone a Chad works the same way doesn’t it?

    • Mia4s says:

      Yeah the meme doesn’t phase me in the least, even though I’m not a fan of it because all three Karens I know are awesome…and one is a Woman of Colour…awkward 😬. I get it though.

      But it is interesting that there doesn’t seem to be a male equivalent. A bit like “bitch”.

      • Some chick says:

        It’s always easier to pick on girls.

        WHITE MEN are the problem.

        Sure, some white women coattail on that.

        If you can’t take a Karen or Becky joke, I might ask why not.

        I do feel for WoC (and really any women) who are actually named Becky or Karen. But I think most folks get it.

        The deeper issue is that it is always the women who are attacked.

        The problem is WHITE MEN. Let’s join forces and go after them! Hmm?

    • Kaiser says:

      Chad and Brett

    • Ash says:

      This is a great point, actually. I wish I’d come up with it myself!

      “Told me how to do my job that I’ve been doing for longer than him? Such a Chad.”

    • runcmc says:

      There’s Chad, but that’s the only one I can think of.

    • lucy2 says:

      I see “Kyle” used a lot.

      • Esmom says:

        I haven’t seen that much but it makes me laugh because when my kids were little they had a game called Guess Who…One of the people was named Kyle and for some reason they both developed an irrational animosity towards him, lol, and make up all kinds of dumb things that only “Kyle” would do.

      • Alibeebee says:

        We use Hank – for basic guys with no flavour
        Brad for misogynistic type men

    • lobstah says:

      Todd – that’s the name we use. Like the douchey guy next door in Christmas Vacation…

      • Dazed and confused says:

        Yes!! That’s what we use too.

      • ChillyWilly says:

        Lol! Todd is perfect!

      • Elizabeth says:

        53% of white women (who actually voted) voted for Trump. That’s what’s up. Being called Karen or Becky is not a slur. Let’s talk about racial justice in this country.

        Donald Trump, exhibit A. The vilest most misogynistic rich white man, and 53% of white women voted for him. Right there. White supremacist patriarchy is woven into those women.

        Karen or Becky is mild compared to what I’d call them, these are the enforcers of racial oppression and dehumanization.

    • Agirlandherdog says:

      We use Kevin…

      • Elisa says:

        Ha, we also use Kevin!

      • greenmonster says:

        Kevin and even Alpha-Kevin.

      • lara (the other) says:

        Don’t forget Horst

      • Reece says:

        We use Kevin for the guy that thinks he’s smart but he is an idiot or just completely clueless in that “How do you not know this?” way.

        I think the white men privileged names have been around longer but no one complained about it until “Karen” came along. Which is what Karen does.

    • MarineTheMachine says:

      There is the infamous Ryan.

    • Jess says:

      Good point, Lightpurple. My teen daughter loves using the term Karen (as do I – it’s so perfect) and she thinks Todd is a good counterpoint for similar men.

    • Bettyrose says:

      I’m glad your sister is cool with it because I’ve always really liked the name Karen. It’s simple and mature, passes the CEO test no question. I’m sorry it’s the name that got linked to this entitled white woman imagery, but I don’t associate it with real life Karens, nor do I think the calling out of entitled white women underserved. That said, entitled white men are like a plague (literally at this point) so can we get a Jared trope going please?

      • Another Anne says:

        Jared should absolutely be the new go-to for a mediocre white man who thinks he’s able to do anything/the expert on everything.

    • Twitchany says:

      There’s the Kyle stuff.

    • Becks1 says:

      I feel like Karen is Becky’s mom.

      I’m a Becky, and the tag doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I am VERY basic in terms of how I dress (well always in terms of how I dress) and the things I do. I don’t think my personality is a Becky, but I am not insulted if someone says something like “she was being such a Becky.”

      • Sushiroll says:

        If Karen is Becky’s mom, then Carol is Karen’s mom. That’s what I call the really old nasties who taught Karen how to be an asshole.

    • Korra says:

      Brad or Jason or my go-to default problematic white guy names.

    • petee says:

      I thought that all started with the Smudge the white cat Memes.

  3. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Try living with Tom, Dick or Harry… KAREN.

  4. Mel says:

    Yeah…wrong take lady. True Karen thing to do indeed.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Julie Bindel is awful anyway, and is the type of feminist who makes it necessary to revisit the conversation about why not pressuring all women and young girls to embrace the label is a protection. She’s a republican TERF who hates bisexual women, blames rape on women being ‘too’ willing these days, and tries to use racism in the world to promote her conservative beliefs as a white woman (which isn’t very different from white men who use/idealize Asian women and brown women from other parts of the world over conservative ideals about how we should all behave). Her rant was probably triggered by being called a Karen for at least one of those behaviors.

      • Sarah says:

        THIS. The “Karen” label is absolutely meant to call out a certain type of woman…like her. It goes way beyond “asking for the manager”.

      • sunny says:

        Yes! Standing ovation to this comment.

      • osito says:

        I had no idea who this woman was before reading this article. Thank you for your description of her, even though just reading about it makes me physically feel unpleasant things in my body. (fear and stress response?!? Who knows…). I wish this were at the very top — might give pause to some of those who rush to ask “but isn’t it, tho?” This is who you’re aligning with, you Not-All-Karens out there…

      • grumpy says:

        what is wrong with being a republican, why is that a character failing? She is British so it can only mean she doesn’t like the monarchy which is perfectly valid.

    • Esmom says:

      Absolutely. The Twitter responses to that utterly Karen Tweet gave me life.

    • Mac says:

      An oppressor who thinks she is oppressed. I am so tired of these women.

    • bettyrose says:

      Otaku, OMG. Based on your description, I’m not understanding how she self identifies as a feminist. Quick google search tells me she’s active in defending women who are prosecuted for killing violent male partners, which is great, but if the rest of that is accurate, GAH!

  5. Watercress says:

    My sister (who I havent spoke to in over three years) IS called Karen and is the ultimate Karen.

    She organises family get togethers 12 months in advance and makes spreadsheets about who has to bring what, makes snide, obtuse remarks about people on social media so she can never actually be caught out (but everyone knows who she’s talking about) and is bossy, self-centred and self-righteous AF.

    So yeah…there are actually real Karens out there organising the world one Excel spreadsheet at a time.

    • Imtired says:

      Ok that’s honestly interesting however I don’t see the connection with the description in the post about white privilege.
      Furthermore, I thought Karen was something else entirely, someone who asks for the manager a lot. There is a subreddit on Karen I believe

      • Watercress says:

        @Imtired say what?

        My understanding of a Karen is they are generally middle-aged, privileged white women who are lower middle class – middle class, entitled AF, slightly ignorant and very very demanding, bossy and easily outraged.

        Sooooo where’s the confusion?

      • Emily says:

        I also thought Karen was a middle aged lady with a “let me talk to your manager” haircut. I never thought it was about race. Maybe I was missing something.

      • Veronica S. says:

        Karen has always been unavoidably about race. It’s acknowledging the way white women of a certain social class can emulate the arrogance and sense of entitlement traditionally associated with wealthier white men, particularly when dealing with individuals of a lower socioeconomic stratum. You’ll never see it applied to black women or other non-white women specially because it’s tackling that very specific white cultural demographic.

      • Imtired says:

        Ok so I guess your sister also asks for the manager?
        The confusion was that the article says it’s about white privilege but I just assumed your sister is the same race as your family, and she’s being annoying to her own family
        Anyways I know there’s a subreddit but I haven’t really read it, I’m learning today so I appreciate what you shared

      • Becks1 says:

        Karen always wants to “talk to the manager” because she is able to get her way if she just goes a step above you, especially if the person she is initially dealing with is a minority. She wants to speak to the manager bc there is an unconscious assumption that the manager is white and will side with her. That’s my understanding of it anyway.

      • bettyrose says:

        It’s about a sense of entitlement in public places, which can be related to race. I mean, everyone should feel comfortable asking for a manager when they’re not getting the service they’re paying for, but “Karen” is more about an expectation that your needs come first, and we’ve all known that person/had to endure them in the workplace (actually, one that painfully comes to mind for me wasn’t white. She was central Asian in heritage, but she was born and raised in a U.S. suburb and married to a wealthy white man – so the class/cultural stereotypes behind “Karen” still applied to her and gawd was she a handful).

  6. minx says:

    As I understood it, Karen is a “Let me speak to the manager.” My daughter works at Subway while she’s in college and she says affluent suburban Karens are the worst, questioning every charge/bread/condiment/meat and bullying young workers. They often bring in a bunch of kids and hold up the line while their kids take forever to pick their sandwich.

  7. Erin says:

    Class Prejudice is a good thing. That is all.

  8. Otaku fairy says:

    The funny thing is that a lot of the ones who try to turn Karens being called out into misogyny/reverse racism/ageism, are quick to whine about ‘PC culture’ and desperate to keep women outside their demographics from criticizing slurs with actual violence and oppression behind them. To them, oppression is being expected to give those up. They are the queens of demonizing those less privileged than themselves for not laughing or smiling along to abusive behavior. Zero sympathy them.

    • Rapunzel says:

      This is precisely why this is not a slur. Karen is a substitute for selfish, privileged woman who acts aggrieved when anything inconviences her. It’s not slur. It’s shorthand description.

      • Esmom says:

        Exactly. JFC. And as others have pointed out, it is an utterly Karen thing to not understand this.

      • bettyrose says:

        Well said Rapunzel. As I said above, I have no issue with the description for all the reasons you’ve stated, but I do like the name Karen.

    • ChillyWilly says:

      Well said Otaku fairy.

  9. Silas says:

    White feminism.

    Lol, I am not surprised at all that this woman loves the Queen. Of course she does. Karens think people should be as deferential to them as people would be to the Queen.

  10. Ali says:

    Ha Karen.

  11. Erinn says:

    This might be the first time I’ve read “weaponizes their femininity”, but that is definitely the case at times.

    I don’t feel bad calling people a Karen. Though from what I’ve seen Karen is much more of the “I want to speak to your manager” or “my ex wife Karen took everything – I haven’t seen the kids in years!” kind of vibe. The obnoxious “I know everything” type. The minivan majority. The middle aged woman who’s probably popping pills and mixing it with wine while complaining about how awful pot is.

    I do feel sort of bad for people who are genuinely named some of these things – that WOULD suck. And I’m sure there are plenty of absolutely lovely Karen’s out there. But it’s for the most part, just a case of picking a name that’s very common among middle aged white ladies, and it was Karen this time, just like it was Becky before.

    But let’s not pretend that calling someone a Karen is any worse than all the folks who make a habit of ripping on millennials or whatever. It’s not a word that has any historical context of suffering – people need to get over themselves.

  12. Summergirl says:

    Just this: tell me where all the Karen equivalent memes are for men. I’ve never thought of the Karen thing as the least bit prejudicial towards white women–that’s ridiculous–but this whole grouping of women into certain types by a name I actually find quite misogynistic. (And women can be misogynistic towards other women.) I’ve laughed at some Karen memes too. But I’d like to see vast swaths of men grouped by haircut or “can I speak to the manager behaviour”–until I see Mike or Matt weaponized that way (even humorously), the Karen memes will bug me as much as they sometimes make me laugh.

    • Lisa says:

      Agreed.

    • Goldie says:

      Fair point, but I have seen blogs run by POC use “Brad” and “Chad” in the same way that “Karen” is used. It just hasn’t caught on with the mainstream yet.

      • Esmom says:

        In my son’s college town, the local police Twitter feed uses Brad and Chad to describe the drunken frat boys and their messy antics. Cracks me up.

      • Fleur says:

        I would say Todd, Bob and Dick are also standard stuffy middle American white guy names that are used derisively. The Bobs, Dicks and Karens of America have such inherent privilege, that anyone is getting fussy over the mocking of that privilege is peak Karen.

    • Erinn says:

      Chad’s and Kyle’s – the Kyle one especially was HUGE for months on end. Kyle is the monster energy drinking douche bag type guy. There was TONS of Kyle stuff during the “storm area 51″ especially. It’s out there – but I guess you can miss it depending on the sites you visit.

    • Lulu says:

      Exactly this. I think that ‘Karen’ is the comfy kind of misogyny a lot of people like to slip into. We’ve all had that whiny customer we roll our eyes at, and who doesn’t feel irritated when someone pulls up in their Range Rover with several posh-named kids in tow, snaps her fingers and demands to see the manager?

      Thing is though, as someone whose job involves a lot of interaction with members of the public everyday, I can fully confirm that men are just as likely to whinge, throw a hissy fit over ridiculous things, use class privilege (“My firm designed this very building and you’re telling me you can’t squeeze me in for ten minutes?), demand to speak to your boss – and certainly more likely to devolve into outright swearing and verbal abuse when they don’t get their way. But there’s no ‘Simon’ or ‘Josh’ in the way that Karen has entered common usage.

      And a woman may be a fully obnoxious and annoying person, but if you find her behaviour somehow shriller, more demanding and worthy of mockery whilst overlooking identical behaviour in a man, that is misogyny.

      And I have found it very telling that, on Reddit subs and similar places devoted to mocking Karens, what gets a middle class mother labelled as such is often simply being a female customer with the nerve to complain about anything, no matter how justified. “I told this lady that her order didn’t arrive on its due date, and the cow rolled her eyes”. “I had to deal with such a Karen today – went to get house to repair the dishwater and she told me I needed a certain part and she’d already explained this to my company on the phone. She turned out to be right, but jeeze, where did she get off repeating this louder and louder when I didn’t pay attention and kept trying other things first??”.”I wrote down an order wrong and then didn’t double-check this kid’s allergies that had been explained to me on their arrival. They were able to pull out an Epi-pen, what’s the big deal? But noooo, Karen’s got to go storming off to my manager because I endangered her brat’s life, yadda yadda yadda.”

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        Uhhh no. The term Karen is not misogynist. And to call it such is very similar to what Julie Bindel attempted to do with her tweet. Karen is a descriptive of privilege- specifically white feminist privilege. And to call it misogyny is a low key way to attempt to create a victim narrative that simply doesn’t exist. Ive worked with a LOT of Karens in my time. Who weaponized their white womanhood AGAINST non-white women.

      • Miumiiiu says:

        Thx lulu, you’re making a great point

      • Jennifer Devlin says:

        Brilliantly put, Lulu. Thanks.

      • Veronica S. says:

        I’m a white woman who works retail on the side, and I don’t agree with that at all. The whole “basic bitch” term was definitely comfortable misogyny, particularly in the way it was mainstreamed as an attack against younger white women for relatively harmless infractions (wearing Uggs, drinking Starbucks, etc.) rather than any serious behavioral issues, but it’s clear that Karen has always been a very specific indicator of class privilege more than anything else – that that class cultural privilege is inherently tied to whiteness in the United States.

        Karen, like Becky, is about the utilization of class and race to attain power over others – particularly because it involves appealing to a higher authority (usually a manager) in order to dole out petty, retaliatory action against somebody who is not in a position of power and likely did little harm simply because they did not get their way. The only way that’s inherently attacking gender is in examining how white women hypocritically utilize the gains of feminism (since we are the ones who primarily benefited from it thus far) while weaponizing traditional Western gender markers (female empathy, maternal concern, etc.) to make themselves victims. For white women, our experiences as woman do not preclude us from being subjects of critique when it comes to matters of race or economic class.

        The reason it is predominantly focused on women is less because men are less likely to be have like assholes in a retail settings (they certainly do) but frankly from their statistical recurrence – women, as holding the majority of home care positions, are far more likely to do things like grocery shopping or clothing shopping. The association is to femininity because that particular role is more recurrent among women, and particularly among women of a certain social class.

      • WTW says:

        @Valiantly Varnished, thank you for making this point. I completely agree with you, particularly with this part: “Ive worked with a LOT of Karens in my time. Who weaponized their white womanhood AGAINST non-white women.”

        I think many of the white readers on this site will overlook this point, but as a black woman, this has been my biggest complaint in the workplace and of so many black women I know, whether they are in working class or upper-middle class professions.

      • Your cousin Vinny says:

        Exactly. When there isn’t a male equivalent there’s definitely a sexist element.

        In the years I spent in customer service roles I encountered plenty of privileged men and women behaving appallingly. I can still get worked up thinking about some of the degrading and frankly abusive things that were said to me and the way in which I pretty much had to take it.

        Generally speaking it was the men who were the most openly combative and threatening and quick to escalate to insults and verbal abuse if I dared to oppose them by FOLLOWING THE FEDERAL LAW.

        They always insisted on seeing the manager (who was a woman) who would then be abused in turn until they demanded to speak to the next highest manager (who happened to be a man).

        Interestingly, they always calmed down and backed off when he arrived and would listen patiently as he explained exactly what me and my direct manager had already tried to explain to them to no avail. For some reason they never argued with him and would quite often shake his hand and thank him for his time and leave without even looking at those of us he had just been abusing.

        So yes, there is a misogynistic element here. It doesn’t explain the full story as white privilege definitely plays a role but In my experience, so too does gender.

    • Becca R says:

      Chad. Brett.

  13. Sarah says:

    Complaining about being called “Karen” is peak white feminism, Karen.

  14. Lucy says:

    LOL. I am sure there’s plenty of women out there whose actual name is Karen who do understand that it’s not actually aimed at them. You know, except for the ones who are total Karens (which is not the same as having that name) ;)

  15. trace_smiles says:

    AKA Such a Taylor thing to do

  16. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    What @mitchellscomet said.

  17. Chica71 says:

    Yes, but I’ll always remember Karen fondly because of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.

  18. STRIPE says:

    I think it says a lot about whiteness that THIS is the “prejudicial” term white women have to endure. If someone called me a Karen, I’m not sure I could even muster a shrug. Technically it is a pejorative, obviously. But also whatever. On the list of terrible things you could call someone, this is so far down it’s hardly worth discussing in real terms.

    • Sarah says:

      YEP. Slurs are about power differentials. “Karen” is pointing out obnoxious, entitled, privileged behaviour and guess who is most likely to act in such a way?

      • STRIPE says:

        That for sure – but also “Karen” just lacks the historical/power imbalance punch that other slurs do. To me this is complaining about getting your shoes wet while your neighbors house is underwater, ya know?

  19. Eleonor says:

    Ehm for me Karen is Karen Walker from Will and Grace and it totally makes sense…

  20. Lara says:

    I mean Julie Bindel is a TERF so I wouldn’t pay much attention to her.

  21. MLouise says:

    I think it best that we point out behaviors not based on gender, race or ‘social (read money) class’. I would like to see what type of man a so-called ‘Karen’ married, … Also, this is another case of women’s behaviors being presented as ‘justly judged’ when most women’s behaviors are overtly openly scrutinized (which ‘good old habit’ Did not help get Hillary elected). In a nutshell, what does it accomplish overall to go against a behavior based on gender? Call it a ‘judgy Karen and Brad’ type of people, or even better let’s not use $ and social status- not as if all the bad are without $. I find this def above quite problematic and yes targeting poor white women is not good in my eyes- this is a behavior men and rich can have too.

    • ADS says:

      “…most women’s behaviors are overtly openly scrutinized (which ‘good old habit’ Did not help get Hillary elected).”

      It’s ironic you should say that because ‘Karen’s’ are precisely the type of women who did not vote for Hilary, whereas over 90% of women of colour voted for her.

      • osito says:

        Upvote.

      • Valiantly Varnished says:

        And call the police on POC minding their own business…

      • AMA1977 says:

        That’s because Karens are hugely resentful of women who break out of the mold and/or make inroads into traditionally “male” workspaces. Karen doesn’t have the brains, ability, or confidence to make her mark in the world in a meaningful way, so she will bitch to the manager, gossip about anyone and everyone who isn’t just like her, live her life through her poorly-behaved offspring, and will ESPECIALLY tear down high-achieving women.

  22. Lucy says:

    Julie Bindel is such a karen. Plus, she is a huge TERF. Ugh.

  23. Abby says:

    I truly hate the Karen bullshit. It needs to die already.

    Also Karen is an awesome name.

    • Esmom says:

      I grew up in the 70s. My school was pretty small but I had three Karens in my class (actually one was Karyn). I honestly have not met anyone younger actually named Karen. I think that’s how it ended up as the moniker for this trope because it fits the middle aged group so incredibly well.

      I think that as long as Karens are being Karens, they absolutely need to be called out on it. Let’s hope it dies out because they finally get it.

    • Tiffany says:

      Since you are sick of it Abby, you need to tell those Karen’s to check their privilege and stop thinking that can say and do whatever they want to black people and when they are told to mind their business put on fake tears while on the phone with cops so they can witness said cops but their hands on black people or worse while you watch with a big smile on your face.

      Can you do that Abby or is it too much.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree! Entitled white woman bullshit does need to die already.

  24. TIFFANY says:

    Karen started with a woman who put raisins in her potato salad.

    Seriously, that was the woman’s name who made the suggestion. And Twitter was on it.

    That was when it became a punchline to where were are now.

    There was BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, Security Sarah, you can go on.

    Basically white women, stop using your privilege to have black people killed.

    • whatWHAT? says:

      WHO THE F WOULD PUT RAISINS IN POTATO SALAD?!

      I mean, Karen, sure…but what kind of monster would do such a thing?

      I mean, that’s just WRONG. Raisins don’t even belong in COOKIES. or muffins, or bagels or ANYTHING except trail mix. and even then, it’s questionable.

      • Tiffany says:

        Karen did. And if I were her co workers, she is banned from potlucks at work forever, you hear me, forever.

      • Imtired says:

        👿 stop it…. raisins are nice in cookies, butter tarts, couscous, Irish soda bread (use currants which are small raisins), bran muffins, carrot cake, and curried couscous salad. We also have some very nice raisin brioches/danishes in Quebec. I don’t use them in potato salad and never tried that or saw it in person, but I feel like raisins are too vilified lately. I love a good oatmeal raisin cookie and in contrat i feel that chocolate chips are what don’t belong on cookies (not that I don’t like chocolate.)

  25. Mumbles says:

    I LOLed at the idea of “Karen” as a slur. Slurs are used to make powerless people feel even less powerless. The people called “Karens” have plenty of power.

    I will say this, though. To the extent that women who whistleblow or call out true wrongdoing are dismissed as “can I speak to your manager” types, that’s unfortunate. Women have a history of being whistleblowers (think of Enron) because they are not good old white boys who go along. But yeah, I’m going to assume going forward we can distinguish between real whistleblowing (good) and calling the police on people of color for having a picnic or selling water (Karen bs).

    • Tiffany says:

      Yeah, not even the same thing.

      Can not believe that whisteblowing is your defense.

    • Katherine says:

      Slurs are used all the time about powerful people! What does power have to do with it? I know several for oppressive white dudes in power. They aren’t has hurtful to these people because they DO have power, I’ll grant you that, but the concept applies across all power dynamics.

      And no the whistleblowing thing isn’t the same thing at all.

      I don’t think women who legitimately whistleblow are dismissed as karens the way it is being discussed here. They’re dismissed because in general women can be dismissed and ignored. Especially when posing a threat to power. That’s it’s own separate problem.

      Karens has to do with women calling out sh*t that either doesn’t exist or isn’t a big deal usually to the detriment of a POC.

    • Joanna says:

      Guys, guys, to me she’s not saying it’s the same thing or equal. She’s saying we call people Karen who complain and IT is not the same as someone who calls the COPS on POC. and she’s right. I’ve complained to the manager but I’m no Karen. Karen is way worse.

  26. Millenial says:

    I think sometimes these thing start out as productive, and a way to call out privileged behavior, but then they get co-opted by people who use the terms to suit their purpose.

    In the case of “Karen” (not so much “Becky”) I tend to see the term used *most often* by white men wanting to complain about a woman – someone they work with they think is a b-word or whatever. So, I think it started out fine, but has been co-opted into something misogynistic by a large subset of people.

    • osito says:

      True. Awful people gonna awful. But I don’t think the disproportionate reaction to the taxonomic nomenclature or Karens or Beckys or Susans or whoever has to do with the truly awful. I think it has a lot to do with racism and classism.

    • Chrys says:

      Agreed. A guy called me ‘Karen’ because I disagreed about Bernie Sanders ability to pass universal healthcare (which I’m totally for, btw).

    • Jules says:

      yes. people love to hate and hate to love. the majority of comments here are insane

      • Otaku fairy says:

        Insane? Yikes. Holy gaslighting, Batman. So far none of the valid criticisms here of the Karen call for disparaging comments about mental health, or hating to love. That kind of goes into the type of behavior being talked about, though.

  27. Bunny says:

    I make more than my share of ‘Karen’ jokes, but in thinking about it, think that sometimes it can be “punching down”.

    Not all women share the same privilege. Society has strata of privilege.

    I’ll need to think about it some more.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Punching down? HOW?? White women (which is what the term Karen is a descriptive of – white female privilege) are second on the strata of privilege. Let’s be real here.

    • Veronica S. says:

      It’s literally pointing at a specific intersection of class and white privilege that some white women are privy to in a culture where economic class is a huge indicator of power. You wouldn’t call a white single mother in line at a counter getting frustrated because of a food stamps issue a Karen because she doesn’t have that level of privilege. She may be behaving like an asshole, but there’s a recognition of a key difference in socioeconomic privilege at play.

      I am a firmly middle class white woman, and I am baffled by how many people in this thread cannot get this. White women do not get to build our feminist movement off the backs of WOC, stepping on them every step up the ladder, and then enjoy the majority of the bounty at their expense without swallowing our pride and dealing with a few Karen memes now and then. A better use of our time is examining why WOC do not see us as trustworthy allies.

      • GirlMonday says:

        Applause. Upvote. Like. Heart. Underscore. Exclamation point.

      • Imtired says:

        About the single mom part, many Karen’s may also have experienced that, or divorce, and or abuse, and based on the age for their stereotype’s generation, A LOT of sexism. Just because she looks clean and doesn’t literally have a young child with her …

  28. Hotsauceinmybag says:

    It might be… The same way people use the names “Sheniqua” (as pejorative terms for black women) and “Maria” (for Latinx women). Yet we don’t have necessary conversations surrounding those names. Bindel has a very WW hot take on something that overall does not have near the effect or prejudice that using Maria or Sheniqua pejoratively has.

    But Beckys and Karens are gonna Becky and Karen, I guess.

    • Prayer Warrior says:

      Maybe we need to come up with a description of a “Julie”? One who thinks she is the jewel more precious than any other? (MY Precioussssssssssssssss)……..sorry the ADHD got the best of me and I wandered into Gollum territory)…..A Julie being a white, non-inclusive (almost wrote in-conclusive….need coffee)….willing to demean others for personal gain……..hmmmmm
      What about it, Celebitches?

  29. MellyMel says:

    That tweet is the dumbest and most Karen thing ever. This virus needs to go ahead and go away cause some of y’all have TOO much time on your hands to be writing this nonsense.

  30. Anne says:

    Julie Bindel is a TERF scumbag. Her particular brand of feminism is abhorrent.

  31. Boo says:

    My son calls me Karen and seems to think Karen is someone who complains about other white people’s stupid wind chimes and wants them to pick up their dog poop.

    This Julie Bindel lady is trying to stir up trouble and I’m not interested. I’ll continue being Karen who hates wind chimes.

  32. Slacker says:

    A few things: the Karen slur is absolutely woman hating-it is not about the privilege of Karens , its about the sexism of the white, cisgender, heterosexual men who started the Karen memes. It’s white male toxicity at its best trying to portray women as unreasonable nagging withholding, hags. if it were just about white female privilege then it wouldnt have been created by misogynist white males. I would not call it racist, just misogynist. These memes are all about how Karen ruins some white dudes fun all the time bc shes Karen. To extrapolate that to the disgusting people who call the cops on people of color for no reason is incorrect. The Becky thing is different. It definitely is race based and it’s also true. i have zero problem with it. The Karen memes are pure toxic male culture, end of story. Let’s please not let them divide us.

    • Slacker says:

      oh and its not class based, pure sexism. it is gross. i know many lovely women named Karen including a cousin.

    • Malificent says:

      Not all upper middle-class white women are “Karens”. Just like not all straight, cisgender, white men are toxic and misogynist. In both cases, individuals have a choice to distinguish themselves by their behavior.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      The “Karen” meme was started by POC – specifically black women to describe the toxic white feminism that we encounter on a daily basis. Becky is a similar phrase for white women who are clueless about racial dynamics – and ultimately don’t care. To attribute it to “toxic male culture” is incorrect. Karens are the women who call the cops on black folks bbq-ing in the park. Or harass little black girls about selling lemonade without a license.

      • osito says:

        *Thank you* for this, VV, and literally everything else you contribute to this site. I never say it, but I always think it, so here’s me saying it.

        Also — to everyone — am I alone in thinking that “basic” also has long held a place in AAVE? I remember my mom calling other WoC she didn’t particularly like “basic” when I was a kid in the 80s and 90s. I always saw it as a word used in Black and Queer Black culture that “spread” (was culturally hijacked), and at that, wasn’t used by the people who created it to target “young white women,” but once it was appropriated that’s who it was applied to by *other white people*.

      • Ange says:

        But isn’t it such a classic Karen move to decide what a term means despite not knowing anything about the actual etymology behind it lol.

    • SheaButterBaby says:

      The whole Karen thing was created by POC, not white males…

    • GirlMonday says:

      I can’t with all the Karens in this thread. “Karen” started (LONG BEFORE it became a popular pop culture reference) as an inside joke among Black women to describe a specific type of white woman. The Black women on this thread know what it means.

      • Imara219 says:

        @GirlMonday lol and thank goodness we have so many white women willing to explain and dissect the meaning of a term that started exclusively in the Black community 😒. What would we do if these women weren’t explaining it to us? 😄🤦🏾‍♀️

    • Slacker says:

      this conversation and the existence of these words is bizarre. especially given the context of the Karen memes. Oh and Ange, I’m pretty sure I’m not a Karen given all Karen’s are white.

  33. Cate says:

    I’m an upper middle class white woman with a borderline “speak to the manager” haircut and…no, it’s not racist or prejudicial. There are definite problem behaviors women of my race/class are prone to that we do need to be called out for. I definitely try to be aware of these tendencies and stop them in myself, but I am not silly enough to think my self-policing is perfect. Also, being called a “Karen” might sting a bit, but really…it’s not going to hurt me. Sticks and stones and all that.

  34. LidiaJara says:

    My understanding of why there isn’t a male equivalent is because Karen (& Patty & hometown hero Becky) refers to a specific type of threat – some imperceptible or imagined slight makes the woman feel attacked, and she calls in overt force to protect her. The woman stays a victim (sometimes literally, like Carolyn Bryant Donham) and the violence is a heroic defence of her honor or discomfort.

    I mean of course men can be violent indirectly and women can be directly violent, but I’ve always heard Karen in that context.

    Here in Oakland the guy named I’ve heard are more hipster – “okay Atticus” “okay Jasper”. But those are more hipster (can we just call them yuppies?) baby names than names of Millennials.

    • osito says:

      Excellent breakdown, and thank you for highlighting that there is a male equivalent (because that’s being used to misdirect attention from the weaponization of white femininity), even if it’s local to you. I’ve also heard Brad, Tommy, Bill, and Luke, fwiw.

      • Imtired says:

        Theres not a male equivalent. Chad is lesser known and none of the others mentioned here are really a thing. There is a whole Reddit about Karen. I appreciate and believe that it was started by WOC but men have jumped on it and it has indeed become misogynistic. Maybe it’s not when used by other women, but it is when used by men.

      • osito says:

        I still see it as a redirect from legitimate criticism about the behavior of some white women, though I do and am willing to consider it on a case-by-case basis. Also, just because the male equivalent isn’t a thing to you, doesn’t mean it’s not a thing. I, my husband who is non-white, and our non-white friends talk about, generalize, and joke about the behaviors of white people without regard to gender dynamics. Karen and Chad (and their kids Becky and Tommy) get theirs when they ask for it.

        If you’re a white woman, maybe spend more time thinking about why being called a Karen makes you lash out and tone police so hard. I’ll think about why I feel safer making a Karen meme than standing up to racial microaggressions and oppression in more directly confrontational ways.

  35. Jj says:

    I’m honestly more curious why it is called a “Karen” instead of any other names, or just calling the bad behaviour as it is. Calling names sound a bit paggro to me. Someone educate me please?

    • LidiaJara says:

      I think it’s sometimes safer for non-white people to talk about “Karens” in a slightly obtuse way. It’s also less likely to get deleted from social media than a direct comment – there are tons of methods people use to talk about racism indirectly because posts calling out “white people” directly are always flagged and people have gotten their accounts disabled over it.

    • Imara219 says:

      Black people speak in code and since the term originated in the Black community 🤷🏾‍♀️.

  36. Valerie says:

    A SLUR? I don’t think so. A pejorative, yes. But not a slur.

  37. Nic919 says:

    It’s unfortunate that this tweet has brought attention to a vile human being. And the tweet is the true example of a Karen.

  38. JByrdKU says:

    My mother’s name is Karen and she’s a lovely woman. As such, I find the entire affair completely ridiculous.

  39. Jezebeelzebub says:

    I guess I feel a *little* bad for those decent Karens out there, but the decent Karens wouldn’t get all bent out of shape about this shit. Saying its a slur or that its predjudiced or whatever is some Karen-ass bullshit, though. Come on.

    • Kc says:

      My name is Karen. I have many privileges in my life. If being a meme is the worst I ever have to go through then I am beyond fortunate. It’s odd to have so many people calling/using your name, but if you don’t have a sense of humor about it – well, that speaks volumes!!

  40. Bucky Bieber says:

    The male equivalent is obvious. It’s Donald.

    White Man: I’m sick of people whinning about white privilege.

    Everyone: OK, Donald.

    • osito says:

      I mean, it’s literally the hegemonic normative structure, the voting majority in most municipalities, the Grand Dragon Oppressor, Agent Orange the 45th, and we do a lot to call that out and make fun of it, too. This thread is making me angrier as the day goes on (not you, Bucky…just venting here) because it seems like people are intentionally missing that it’s a targeted criticism of white women. It’s not that the criticism of white men simply doesn’t exist; in the case of Karen specifically, it’s not *the point*.

  41. Jane says:

    I’m a white woman and I totally am behind Karen. My mom is a Karen (petty, vindictive, abusive – abused her elderly mom, my grandmother, for money) and, thirty years ago, a Becky (straight hair, slept with other women’s husband’s, blamed the wives).

  42. Blase2 says:

    Do people really need to name call and pigeon-hole others? Inevitably both are mistakes. Mean people exist in every demographic.

    • Imara219 says:

      The meaning behind Karen goes deeper than calling out mean people. It really speaks to a specific form of white women behaviors that supports institutional and social racism through microaggressions towards black people. They are white women who exert a form of power and uses tools in their arsenal to rise white men to act for them against the minority. Soooo definitely beyond a mean girl white chick.

    • Bucky Bieber says:

      And it’s the mean people in those demographics who get the labels.

  43. Leah says:

    The “Karens” of the world made themselves Karens by calling 911 on black people for standing in line for coffee, using a swimming pool and picnicking. It’s pointing out a character flaw for white women who call the cops on innocent people, it’s not a racial slur. Now if only they would listen to that old saying “live and let live” people wouldn’t call them Karens.

  44. McMom says:

    I originally heard the term used to describe the middle aged woman who demands to “speak to the manager” – I didn’t realize there was a racial component until, well, really until I read this post.

    A few weeks ago, I described myself as a Karen when the barista lost my daughter’s order and then tried to blame it on my daughter. I insisted on speaking with the manager – who gave my daughter a gift card to apologize.

    So, it was at Starbucks and we were en route to a lacrosse game, which I recognize makes me sound like the ultimate, entitled, middle aged Karen.

    BUT – in my defense, my daughter is a (adolescent) WOC (I’m white) and it really felt that she (not I) was getting pushed around by these older, male baristas and I wanted her to stand up for herself. So I realize I was fulfilling many stereotypes with my behavior, but dismissing my daughter like that made me mad. No doubt in my mind they would have acted differently if I had been the one to place the order.

    • Valiantly Varnished says:

      Well this is a prime example of what happens when terms and phrases are co-opted from black culture without context and understanding. Karen was always about white female privilege. It was only when white women decided to co-opt the term that it became about haircuts and “asking for the manager”.

  45. McMom says:

    Has anyone posted this yet?

    https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/the-difference-between-a-karen-and-a-becky-explained-1842708257

    This is good – a Becky is clueless about her privilege (and has zero interest in understanding) whereas a Karen is aware of her privilege and uses it as a weapon.

  46. Sillyb says:

    I’ve heard Chet used as the male equivalent for Karen.