Karen further spread in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic and protests for racial justice. White women in viral videos—engaging in what was criticized as selfish or racist behavior—were shamed as Karens. The mayor of Las Vegas, for example, was called a Karen when, in a TV interview, she pushed to reopen casinos without social distancing despite warnings otherwise. Another notable instance was “Central Park Karen,” the epithet for a white woman who called the police on a Black man who was birdwatching in the Manhattan park, falsely accusing him of threatening her. A more pointed explanation, which involves race, is the expression originating among Black people to refer to unreasonable white women. The term was popularized on Black Twitter as a meme used to describe white women who “tattle on black kids’ lemonade stands” or who unleash the “violent history of white womanhood”.
Needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. In r/EntitledKarens, another user shared an illustration of a Karen sparring off against a doctor, shouting that “stuff I read on Facebook” trumps science. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history – sent every Wednesday. Over the last few years, certain names have become the butt of online jokes.
Now it’s expanded to reference any snobbish or out-of-touch woman, which poet Becky Lavarn, of Texas, does not relate to. This one comes from the incel subculture, which is often described as involuntarily celibate and comprised of mostly men who lack sex and romance in their lives. The New York mom who freaked out at the dancer-come-TikTokker strutting her stuff on Freedom Lake in a string bikini. Because I have an extra pair,” says the pissed-off (and mask-less) Karen in the clip.
Besides analyzing the names, Bionic looked at the countries with the most women named Louise , as well as the places with the most women who are actually named Karen. In both instances, the U.S. was the top location in the world for Karens and Karen-like behavior. For the name Louise, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was second, followed by the U.K. Mr. Walton introduced the CAREN (Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies) Act (presumably he couldn’t come up with a suitable word that began with K).
“I am sure there are occasions where a complete jerk is deliberately using this new slang term as a way to harass a particular woman named Karen, and I think that should be called out,” Evans said. In other words, there’s nothing in particular about the meaning of the name “Karen,” or the specific trajectory of the name in pop culture, that lends itself to this kind of pejorative use. Cleve Evans is a professor at Bellevue University in Nebraska who studies onomastics letter templates for wood carving — the history and etymology of proper names. “There are myriad examples of words derived from names,” he told me in an email, including as racial or ethnic slurs. Names like “Paddy” and “Mick” functioned as anti-Irish slurs in the 19th century, while “Guido” was a common slur for Italians. In December 2019, Australian media reported that in the town of Mildura, a woman named Karen had been filmed trying to pull down an Aboriginal flag being displayed by her neighbors.
In recent times there’s been ‘Fajita Karen’ – a woman who refused to eat her fajitas without shredded cheese. Her husband posted a picture complaining to the restaurant they’d had to wait ’18 minutes’ for the cheese ‘as it’s the only way she can eat fajitas’. The internet, of course, saw the funny side and Karen-branded her.
Sometimes they mate with the male equivalent and reproduce so they can conquer every supermarket in the fucking universe. Their favorite animated characters are yellow pill-shaped things that have one or two eyes. And sure enough, Karen Han, who writes for Vox sister site Polygon, told me that “sometimes people on Twitter do assume I’m white and respond to tweets that they disagree with that ‘Karen’ meme.” Karen Turner likewise told me she gets people spamming her with the Karen meme on Twitter.
Bitch magazine described Karen as a term that originated with Black women but was co-opted by white men. In an article on high profile incidents in the U.S. of white women calling the police on Black people, The Guardian called 2020 “the year of Karen”. The meme became most popular in 2020 when the Black Lives Matter movement surged in response to multiple events. In 2018, it was among a handful of female names to become attached to a spate of viral videos showing white women racially targeting people of colour. The antagonist of one such clip, of a woman calling the police over a group of African American men having a barbecue in a park in Oakland, California, came to be known as BBQ Becky . British journalist and feminist Julie Bindel asked, “Does anyone else think the ‘Karen’ slur is woman-hating and based on class prejudice?” Freeman replied, saying it was “sexist, ageist, and classist, in that order”.