Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by DaveC426913, Apr 28, 2020.


How bad is the Karen slur on a continuous scale of OK to horrible?

Poll closed May 12, 2020.
  1. 0 Harmless silly internet fun that too many are offended by

    1 vote(s)
  2. 1 Mostly harmless "You may be a redneck if..." fun

    3 vote(s)
  3. 2. Harmful, but not surprising in a cynical world

    0 vote(s)
  4. 3. Very harmful - needs to be fought as any other form of oppression

    0 vote(s)
  5. 4. Analogous to the N-word - as some claim

    0 vote(s)
  1. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Why is it important for you Dave, to not accept that the label of “Karen” can be used to describe a racist woman?
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    It looks to me, now that I've looked it up on the web, as if the term originally had the meaning in which my teenage son uses it at his school in SW London, viz. an entitled and obnoxious professional class blonde, encapsulated in this thing about demanding to speak to the manager, in order to get her own way. The anti-vaxxer thing, which my son has picked up on, does indeed seem to be a bolt-on extra.

    According to Wiki, some time last year the term was given a new, racial twist, being adopted (culturally appropriated, even?) by black and Latin people in the USA, as a derogatory term for racist suburban white women, complaining about the activities of other racial groups. And now, very recently it has - apparently - become yet another political football in the venomous snake pit of American identity politics. So, no doubt, soon it won't be possible to use it at all, without getting vilified by some shrill group of easily offended people.

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    More details here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_(slang)

    It's a pity this has happened, in the USA. In the UK however (and maybe in Canada?), it retains its original meaning, as I have been able to verify with my son.

    I hate it when these slang words suddenly acquire harmful connotations. It can be like treading on a landmine.
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    It can be used to describe a racist woman, but it is also being used without that meaning.

    In discussions I've had with people IRL, the label is being interpreted differently, depending on who I talk to. This confirms what I'm seeing online - that there is some ambiguity in its meaning.

    Ambiguity tends to be harmful when widespread in social media. At the very least, a term that means racist to some people - and sexist to others - and harmless to yet others - is being applied willy-nilly.

    As for harm, I would certainly say there's been harm done between me and Bells due to the fluid nature of this meme.

    But this discussion (the parts not rife with directed anger and accusations) has certainly given me a better picture.

    At the very least, I will eschew its use, since I can't count on someone else's interpretation.

    Thanks all.
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  7. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member


    That's where I've been going. And I've certainly triggered a lot of landmines here.
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  8. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Are you in the USA or Canada? How's it used where you are?
  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I like the word, “eschew.”
  10. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    The first in-person reference I encountered was an interpretation of it as an attack on women and white people. i.e. one more "dumb blonde"-esque sexist meme.

    I thought that odd, which is what started me looking into it.
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  11. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Here (San Diego) it's used to describe the woman who always asks to see the manager. Bartenders especially use it.
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  12. Bells Staff Member

    It is in a long line of latest meme's that are targeted at privileged white women who respond a certain way when they do not get their way.

    Now I want people to consider this.. How many workers in low paying retail jobs that Karen complains to the manager about or calls the police, are minorities?

    Who cops the brunt of Karen's wrath when she complains?

    "Karen" at its heart, is a woman who expects to get her way and damn anyone who denies her what she feels is her god given right as white woman. That is who Karen is. Just as BBQ Becky is the white woman who calls the police when she sees black people having BBQ's in a park and she does not believe they belong in that public park, and the Becky that calls the police on black people trying to leave their own apartment buildings because they don't think that black person belongs there (even though he lives there).

    Much has been written about "Karen" since Bindel wrote her now infamous tweets and she deleted them when she was soundly mocked for it. The only people who view it as a slur are people who do not like to see their white privilege questioned or mocked.

    And rightly so. Karen deserves to be mocked. Because her behaviour is harmful, offensive, repulsive and bigoted. It is not a slur. It is a meme that describes certain people.

    "An attack on white people"... Yes, because someone mocking or shining a light on white privilege is an "attack" on white people?

    Karen is someone who pitches a fit when her (or his) white privilege is not taken seriously enough and they are denied the right to get their own way. They will ask to speak to the manager or call the police or ask for things to be shut down because they don't like how things are playing out or how they are being responded to or told. Karen's victim is often minorities. What matters to Karen is her white privilege and getting what she wants and feels she deserves or is entitled to.

    That is "Karen".

    Karen deserves to be lampooned and mocked, as it is a way to erode white privilege. Diminish it to the point where it's a national joke.

    So I don't quite understand how you see that as an "attack" on white people.

    Do you want to know how I know you are taking this way out of proportion in regards to Karen being a slur?

    You can type out the word "Karen", but you can't type out the word "nigger". What does that tell you, Dave?
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    In my experience:

    Justin, the taproom manager
    Lisa, the bartender
    Jesse, the other bartender

    Agreed with what she expects - but at least one Karen I've seen has been black, and one was Filipino.
  14. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    OK, as in London, then, i.e. to do with a sense of entitlement rather than anything racial.

    The entitlement thing does piss me off, on occasions. Just the other day, while I was last in the queue for the butcher (we have to wait outside 2 metres apart, as only 2 people are allowed in the shop at once), a woman came up and asked if I would save her a place while she took her dog for a run on the common. Bloody cheek! A normal person would do their other errands first, then get in the queue for the butcher. She was in effect giving me the job of telling the next person to arrive that they would have to wait longer, because this woman was walking her dog! So I said I couldn't tell some stranger that she was in the queue when she obviously wasn't. She was most put out.

    That, I think, is a "Karen" attitude. She was, I noticed, a greying former blonde. with blue eyes, who at first tried on her "winning" smile, which duly changed to a pout of dismay when I failed to yield to its charms.
  15. foghorn Registered Senior Member

    Bless you.
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  16. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    No argument there.

    While this may well be true, it does not define the extent of Karen.

    It also wrongly describes certain people. That's what labels do. Witness Billvon's example.

    Hate, met by more hate, is just ... more hate.

    You want impotent hate? Or you want to find a solution to solve the problem?

    That's your interpretation. There are myriad.

    Lampooning, mocking, eroding and joking are never good ways of dealing with serious issues. It's just diminishing the issue to humour.

    Why do you want to diminish such an important issue as racism to a glib joke, Bells?

    In the same way "baby eater" would be an "attack" on skinheads. That's not defending skinheads.

    I'll address this first:

    Again, no points for that "Bells". It's actually in the poll. And anyone who has done their research is aware of that modern truism. No one but an idiot thinks that are in any way comparable. It's included in the poll as the theoretical upper limit.

    And this in conclusion:
    As for slur: it is a slur in the same way as calling skinheads "baby eaters". That's not defending skinheads.

    As for proportion-blowing: I asked a sincere question about a current social issue - there's nothing blown out of proportion in that. The fact that I'm not backing down in the face of your bullying, hate and accusations doesn't mean I'm blowing it out of proportion.

    It means you are. You don't own this issue.
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
  17. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    Well done! I usually say to them, "No problem" and smile, then when they return, they humiliate themselves in front of everyone when they try to get back in line looking to you for support as you nonchalantly say, "Never seen her before in my life".
  18. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

    I know a woman who fits the description of Karen to a tee, racism and all the entitlement, and her name is actually Karen.
  19. Bells Staff Member

    And you are kind of ignoring the point...

    Perhaps we may need a new meme... How does Covid Connie sound?

    Well, I'm sure white women world wide will be happy you are taking up the cause to protect them!

    Well done Dave!


    I want Karen's to stop being Karen's.. Then we'd see a lot of that impotent hate disappear. Because they can take their white privilege and shove it up their hair cut.

    But that's just me.

    I have provided you with link after link that supports the interpretation of Karen in a variety of circles. Even in academia.

    Why are you so resistant to the fact that Karen disproportionately affect minorities and that minorities use Karen as a descriptive measure of particular behaviour from "Karen's" in society?

    Is it because to accept that would be to accept that Karen is in fact someone who is entitled and not nice people?

    I mean, how do you reconcile throwing down to protect bigots like "Karen"? Is that why you are deliberately pushing back on their affect on minorities?

    How do you want us to handle it when we see it day in and day out, Dave?

    Because laws, policies, still aren't that effective. Police are called on people of colour so much that yes, we use meme's to mock those who do it.

    And here is the kicker and frankly, you should really pay attention here as it's vitally important.:

    You don't get to dictate to black people about how they respond to racism.

    If they want to out and mock a racist person, then how they do that is their choice. Not yours.

    You seem more offended that people are mocking Karen than you are at the behaviour of Karen.

    Would you rather I call her a racist bitch or skank instead?

    And if I want to mock racists Dave, I'll mock racists. I do it all the time.

    As I noted above, you don't get to lecture people of colour in regards to how they respond to racism.

    If I choose to diminish racists and racism by mocking it, that's my choice. I'd suggest you check your privilege at the door. I have handled enough racism in my time to decide how best to handle it in any given situation.

    And if minorities and others decide to out Karen's behaviour by posting her on social media, then so be it. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. And if she behaves badly, she should be outed. Because that's all that's going to happen to her. It's not like she's a black woman, where bad behaviour will result in arrest or getting shot.

    You have advised that you are very concerned about how "Karen" is an attack on white people... When one considers how Karen is about white privilege at it's heart, frankly, how you now become offended when white privilege is mocked is beyond me.


    Why would you even include it in the poll? It's rubbish. Theoretical upper limits my butt. You fell for a racist online troll who included it in their poll.

    You keep referring to it as a "slur" while putting an actual slur in your poll and then trying to excuse that comparison as a "theoretical upper limit"..?

    Come on Dave?

    I mean, I'm not going to lie, I laughed when I first read it. Because it is so blisteringly dumb that I assumed you were trolling with this thread. And then I read through your arguments about how it's a slur against white women and your continued argument about how it is racist to name her Karen, because she's a white woman. Your attempt to excuse that poll now just kind of falls flat.

    The only people who think "Karen" is a slur tend to be Karen's Dave.

    But then again, given everything, the shoe kind of fits, doesn't it?

    And if I knew what you were talking about, that would be great.

    Ooh, I better be careful as you may report me to management again and try to get the thread closed down some more..

    And you were given different perspective and you still keep trying to ignore how Karen's behaviour is blisteringly bad and how it negatively affects so many minorities because 'there's a slur against white women!'..

    Yep. There was also Becky and numerous other names before Karen and there will be other names that become meme's that describe white privilege after Karen fades for something more recent.
  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    No that would be deceitful. I wouldn't be that mean.

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    But I confess I am a stickler for everyone taking their turn and not trying to game the system when there is something like this going on.
  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    As you are ignoring mine.

    Not sure if you're being sarcastic, but it would actually solve the problem since we would be defining its use.

    See, that's thing.

    You twist my words, even while accusing me of twisting yours.

    Nowhere have I said or implied I'm defending anyone. An attack is still an attack.

    Calling skinheads "baby eaters" is an attack (an unwarranted one, since skinheads do not eat babies). That does not mean I'm defending skinheads.
    Nor does it mean skinheads don't have some pretty terrible views. But saying they eat kittens doesn't help the issue. And making a joke out of eating kittens doesn't spread awareness of the skinhead problem.

    Saying a privileged woman is a Karen is an attack (it may be an unwarranted one, since not all privileged people are also racist). That is not the same as defending privileged people.
    Nor does mean many people out there have some pretty terrible attitudes. But saying Karens are, by definition, racist doesn't help the issue. And making a joke out of it doesn't help.

    N0 it wouldn't.
    Not any more than a Republican saying "I want snowflakes to stop being snowflakes. The all my hatred of bleeding hearts would go away."

    Yes you have, that does not change the fact that it's one interpretation, and that there are myriad.

    I've never shown any resistance to the claim that Karen disproportionately affects minorities.

    I'd say the problem is that you won't acknowledge minorities don't own the meme. It's been appropriated - but that doesn't mean the world has granted the appropriation.

    I'm not protecting anyone.

    I'm not.

    Like everything else in the world: you deal with the crime itself, not with the label.

    Totally agree. Nobody said otherwise. This is tilting at windmills.

    I do get to point out the problem in stereotypes.

    Note that door swings both ways: You don't get to dictate how anyone else interprets the Karen meme.

    Totally agree. Nobody said otherwise. This is tilting at windmills.

    I do get to point out the problem in stereotypes.

    Not 'offended'. Never used the term.
    Karen is a stereotype - a meme - not a person.

    Totally agree. Nobody said otherwise. This is tilting at windmills.

    This is a discussion - on a forum - about the meaning of Karen.

    Totally agree. Nobody said otherwise. This is tilting at windmills.

    I do get to point out the problem in stereotypes.

    Totally agree. Nobody said otherwise. This is tilting at windmills.

    Oh for cryin' out loud. This thread is not about you. And it's not a blog for your diatribe on what people of colour get to do, and what you perceive other people are doing to oppress you.

    I'm sure you had a lot more to say, but I've got to cut you off after so many paragraphs of rhetoric.

    This thread is about the origin, meaning and usage of the Karen meme.

    As it stands:
    1. The Karen meme appears to have originated on Redditt in 1997, by someone complaining about his wife, who took his house and kids.
    2. It appears to have seen a subsequent resurgence - and appropriated with a new meaning - in 1999 by primarily blacks and Hispanics.
    3. There are now, without doubt, multiple meanings and usages of the term.
    4. For some people, it's harmless satire. For others it's about obnoxiousness and privilege. For still others, it's specifically about racist privilege.

    There is definitely a great concern in that array of interpretations. One person may mean it simply as a joke, whereas the person they are speaking to may have a much darker interpretation. Neither of them are wrong, but definitely harm can come from assuming the others' without asking.
    Last edited: May 6, 2020
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  22. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Not sure it’s a joke per se, sounds more like a passive aggressive way of calling someone out on bad behaviors. But I’m sure those who are labeled as Karens, take offense because it’s definitely not a flattering term.

    “Chad” on the other hand, is flattering and usually used by men to refer to other men as being genetically blessed, when it comes to dating women.
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Passive aggressive is a good way of putting it.

    It focuses on the behavior of the doer - it's not really about what it does to the ostensible target. I don't think Karens are really harmed by the label - partly because virtually no one self-identifies.

    I more dubious of this. The Chad label I've been exposed to is used sarcastically and derisively - notably by Incels.

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