Last Updated on May 22, 2020
Karen: the five-letter name used to describe a confrontational, argumentative middle-age, possibly divorced, white woman who uses every possible opportunity to lodge a complaint with low-level retail managers.
The name has become almost immortalized in a variety of memes traversing internet subculture and political ideology.
There was, in fact, a recent brouhaha in the middle of a global pandemic where feminists and female journalists took issue with the liberal use of ‘Karen,’ then quickly assigned the title of a “slur.”
But the name has ascended to online superstardom–even deserving its own dictionary and Wikipedia entry.
According to the slang section of the online Dictionary:
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.
While Wikipedia defines the poorly-coiffured motherly meme as:
…a slang term that is used to typify a woman perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary. One of the most common Karen stereotypes is that of a white middle-aged woman, typically American, who displays aggressive behavior when she is obstructed from getting her way; such women are often depicted as demanding to “speak to the manager” and sometimes have a variation of the bob cut.
Wikipedia goes onto touch upon the origins of Karen, attributing its creation as an internet sensation to a now-defunct Reddit account.
The recently repopularized ‘Doge’ meme has also satirized Karen, perhaps elevating its popularity even more.
Feminist stalwart Julie Bindel ignited the social media firestorm at the beginning of last month where Karen became a hot topic.
Via National File:
The tweet which sparked the social media firestorm, eliciting over 9,000 responses and several independent tweets broaching the matter, read “Does anyone else think the ‘Karen’ slur is woman hating and based on class prejudice?”
Does anyone else think the ‘Karen’ slur is woman hating and based on class prejudice?
— Julie Bindel (@bindelj) April 5, 2020
The tweet provoked popular replies from social justice and black Twitter, who justified the meme name “Karen” in becoming a slur on historic racial lines.
One social media tweeted “Karen as a woman hating slur is bullshit. But let me help y’all understand what ‘woman hating’ looks like against black women. You’re welcome. No need to thank me.”
The Karen meme will continue to make its presence felt on social media as a wide variety of individuals ranging from blue checkmarks to anons use the name.