What Is A ‘Karen’ and why is she significant in 2020? – Talking Point
Pride was one of the events that was cancelled in 2020
2020 has been a funny old year. What started off as a new decade of positivity, huge milestones left and right from the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury to the Olympics in Tokyo, it all turned to shit in March. It was supposed to be a worldwide celebration as we moved into the new twenties. Instead we got a global pandemic, then we had riots, counter riots, political upheaval, cancellation culture and all that came with it, good or bad. Amongst all the social anxiety and social change emerged a new phenomenon, the ‘Karen’.
You are bound to have heard about this already and wondered what it’s all about so we thought it might be handy to shed a bit of light on the matter. There is an Instagram page called @karensgoingwild which collects videos and memes of women in America basically losing their temper for their coffee being wrong or someone walking on the grass. It’s the person who ‘demands to speak to a manager’ with an apparent sense of entitlement.
With coronavirus, the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBT Pride month, things have taken a somewhat more sinister turn. The premise is that a Karen is a privileged white woman who might call the police when they see a person of colour, or an LGBT couple etc and they simply don’t ‘approve’.
It's all in a name and a haircut
Videos of women shouting racist or homophobic abuse at others who might be peacefully protesting or marching have popped up all over the place often resulting in the perpetrators rightly losing their jobs. Over here in the UK, while it’s not really the phenomenon it is across the pond, we are seeing more and more of this kind of worrying behaviour.
The problem is, when does laughing at or having a go at a ‘Karen’ become vilification in itself? Also some people are declaring that it’s just sexism dressed up. There are a few videos of two women basically screaming that the other one is a ‘Karen’ which is very confusing to say the least.
Ultimately it’s all about everyone trying their very best to treat others with the same respect you would expect to be treated yourself. This is a difficult time and social anxiety is through the roof as people worry about what’s going to happen in the future. All we can do is be mindful of other people but also think carefully before we fling an insult at someone, whether it’s a new one like ‘Karen’ for 2020 or one of the old ‘classics’. Name calling is still name calling even when it’s an actually name.