Is the Karen moniker more sexist than funny?

Count me among those who don’t find the “Karen” designation amusing. I think it’s sexist, anti-woman, and even dangerous.

When I first learned of this social media trend, which has even been adopted by the regular media, particularly the tabloid press, a Karen was defined as a white woman who calls the police on black men for trivial reasons. Now apparently the moniker has morphed to represent a white woman asserting herself or her rights in any situation at all, whether or not it involves a non-white person and whether or not it involves the police.

(For the record, my name is not Karen – thankfully.)

At first I was merely offended on behalf of women named Karen. It seemed unfair at best, defamatory at worst. But now I think it’s much less benign than that.

Why this name in particular, out of all the names in the world? There are an awful lot of non-white women named Karen. What do they think of this? It seems there are more lily-white names that could have been chosen; Caitlin or Buffy just to name two.

Now that it’s come to apply to virtually any Caucasian woman in virtually any situation, I worry that it could dissuade women who feel justifiably uncomfortable or threatened in a situation from speaking up or seeking help, for fear of being Internet-shamed in front of millions as a “Karen.” Is this what we want?

Where are the #MeToo people? Where are the feminists? There seems to be nothing but radio silence on this from the usual quarters that come forward to defend women. And shame on the tabloid media for picking this trend up and running with it.

It doesn’t seem that the notion of Karens gibes with #MeToo, #TimesUp, or #BelieveAllWomen.

It made me wonder whether Bill Cosby’s accusers are now considered Karens. Weren’t most of them white? And sure enough, Camille Cosby came out the other day and accused the #MeToo movement of being racist.

And why isn’t there a corresponding term for a man in a similar situation? Why are only women being targeted and labeled? Why don’t we hear about “Jeffreys” or “Todds”? I would venture to guess that there are more racist white men out there than there are racist white women.

It’s time to stop the misogyny.

Leave a comment