People show disrespect for others in many ways.
In 2019, discord among people has reached new lows.
There were the horrific tragedies such as the 41 US mass killings in which 210 people died. Children are still being separated from their parents at the US-Mexico border.
To shift from the obvious and massive examples to the (possibly) trivial, can we talk about what we call each other?
At the risk of earning an “OK Boomer” from you, can I just ask that you call me (and every other human being) by the name they want (as I try to adhere to that myself)?
Please don’t call me “Karen,” to my face or behind my back.
“Karen” has become the go-to for anytime a white woman loses touch with her common sense and perspective and seeks out the manager.
Here’s Dictionary.com’s take:
Karen is a mocking slang term for an entitled, obnoxious, middle-aged white woman. Especially as featured in memes, Karen is generally stereotyped as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being a nagging, often divorced mother from Generation X.
There’s an assumption (often deserved, sadly), that a “Karen” action reeks of white privilege.
“Karens” ask for the manager when their food is lukewarm, when their tea is not sweet enough, when their perfect angels (children) are chastised when they are behaving in a way that endangers others, etc. (There are examples at Comic Sands, on Quora and on Reddit.) It’s possible the proportion of “Karens” rushing to get the grocery divider down rapidly is higher than the general population.
Although the woman referenced here and here really is named Karen, the letter to the editor of the Baltimore Sun about how Lamar Jackson should have donated to a charity rather than giving his offensive linemen Rolexes, along with its Karen-generating headlines, seems to be part of the Karen-verse. (Note: Among his charitable activities is Jackson’s $25,000 gift to the Blessings in a Backpack program last year.)
Here’s the thing. “Karen” behavior is egregious (usually — but also in this day and age when customer services has gotten so marginal, we all find ourselves in infuriating situations that are prone to bring out our inner Karens).
But cramming every middle-aged white woman with a bad haircut and a Volvo into the tiny compartment of a joke name only hurts us all.
Karen Cyphers Breaks it Down
This piece by Karen Cyphers (yes, she really is named Karen) is the one I wish I had written, to be honest. I love the way she delineates the history of this usage of “Karen” and ties in some research that tries to figure out if Karens really do get more aggravated than Dorothys, Janes and Marys.
Sarah Miller Tries to Break it Down
I didn’t love this piece as much (note the paywall, by the way), because of all the stereotypes and assumptions. “Karens are going to Karen. They are unstoppable. All they see are open doors. We should blame the Karens, but maybe we should blame the doors too?”
Names are More than Names
I wouldn’t call a black woman “Nia” (a relatively common name for black women) just because I didn’t have the mental dexterity to try to find out her correct name. If I had an issue with a black woman (or a woman of any ethnicity), I would hopefully have the good sense to try to resolve it using old-fashioned conflict resolution skills (while calling them by the right name).
The big conflicts in our society, I think, often have their seeds in the small choices we make.
If we don’t respect each other enough to call each other the right thing and refrain from stooping to stereotypes and memes, it’s possible we have already lost the battle.
Wife of one, Mom of two, Friend of many. My pronouns are she/her/hers.