I’ve kept my mouth shut about the “Karen” thing except for a brief mention in my recent article about how Joe Biden’s crude, animalistic dominance behavior over female adults and children is overlooked by his enthusiastic upper-middle-class white supporters.
I get the “Karen” stereotype. Now that I have short hair again, I regularly get called “Karen” by Red and Blue MAGA alike whenever I question any of their deeply-held assumptions and cultural tenets.
Every time I see the “Karen” stereotype I think of my school friend Karen. This girl was one of the nicest, most caring, generous and humble friends I ever had. She is still the same kind, warm, giving person as when we were in 7th grade. Every time a libertarian or Men’s Rights Advocate (MRA) or incel calls me “Karen,” I think of Karen, Beyond Shelter’s Administrative Assistant: endlessly patient, giving, self-motivated, a fantastic mother who attended school while working full time. I am ashamed to say that Karen at Beyond Shelter was paid one-third what I was paid. We should have been paid equally — and ten times either of our salaries would not have been enough for what we went through on the job: but that’s another story. This Karen not only didn’t have all the bad Karen stereotyped behaviors, she was also not “white.”
I’m not sure I know the right way to say it but what I’m saying is:
Even though the stereotyped mean, selfish, irrational, abusive and lying “Karen”— real-life versions of Willy Wonka’s Veruca Salt (“I want it NOW Daddy!”) — deserves all the approbium heaped on her and more for her very real offenses —
The people who are named “Karen” and who don’t act like that do not.
Regarding myself, I was just thinking this morning, “Amy, you can sit and gripe and whine all you want but you are luckier than 99% of the people on this earth and a heck of a lot luckier than an animal whose habitat is being destroyed by humans.”
At the same time I don’t like being treated poorly by others and called a name solely based on my personal appearance. I’ve written dozens of articles (and taken personal action, throughout my life) based on my understanding that every other person feels similarly to me no matter who they are. Many “white” Americans think racism consists of this — poor individual treatment and slurs. If they personally refrain from that, most “white” Americans think they are done and are not “racist.” When they are themselves, called a name or criticized, they will bitterly argue that this is racist against them, and is wrong.
So, it is very easy for these people to see how racial slurs and other types of slurs are hurtful. But the thing is: it’s really not the slur that’s a problem. It’s everything else, and especially, it’s things that affect people’s lives. Like — what happens when a person is pulled over by law enforcement. Or — what happens when they try to enter a traditionally “white,” especially “white male” profession or pastime. Or neighborhood. Or apply for a loan or a credit card or insurance or want to buy a house. No, Mr. Men’s Rights Incel, my calling you a total useless halfwitted dickwad is not the same as my friend Karen from Beyond Shelter who attended school at night, worked full time during the day, and took care of her five children on a salary of $32,000 a year. Mr. Men’s Rights White Supremacist Nazi — my calling you that is not the same.
Many “white” people wonder why non-white people complain. They are the people who will search for reasons why somebody like George Floyd “did something wrong” and therefore “deserved” being murdered with a bad cop’s knee on his neck. They probably don’t even know about the many thousands of missing Native American women and girls.
These people and their counterparts who love to call me “Karen” or “KKKaren” (regardless of what their race or gender may be) have a super hard time putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes. I have always really loved this article by Wally Shawn because it described something about actors (and he’s a great one) and how this trait he has, allows him to experience what others do, because all these different people are inside of him.
So now that I am living in a part of the South (Florida), I’m very happy being here because most of the people I live near and who I encounter on a daily basis are gracious people. That is the South, and oddly, I was raised a bit that way by my wonderful Bampy and exacting, perfectionist, “most beautiful woman in Redlands” Nana. As one example, to this day, when someone enters or leaves a room I’m in other than immediate family, I will stand and acknowledge them.
And pretty much everyone here is “white.” And I have tightened my jaw and grip on the wheel of my Jeep when I’ve passed a traffic stop for this entire past year. I’m sure all but the white supremacist Men’s Rights Incels reading this will understand why when I say “I’ve only seen one white person being questioned by any authority this entire time.” Granted, that was a rich-looking white dude who backed into a car across the street and tried to get away with it. So I’ve seen dozens of traffic stops and every single one of them was of a Black man or group of people.
On an individual basis, I do believe the overwhelming majority of “white” Americans do not support the injustice applied to “nonwhite” Americans. It takes a lot of character to really look at it. It’s very hard for me to believe that “white” Americans who do daily work with Black or brown or Native Americans do not understand that these other people’s lives and what is possible and not-possible for them is not the same and if they are fair-minded and gracious and decent and not vicious-minded cruel, immoral and hateful Men’s Rights Racist Incels — that there is not something bad going on that needs to stop.
Do we really need to keep Black Americans in prison in high numbers to work for big companies for free? NO we do not.
So all this said, I don’t like being called “Karen.” It’s not my name. My friends by that name are anything but the stereotype. I do not act like that and never have. I can control my temper — I never lost it in 20 years in the classroom, much less in public or in a store or restaurant.
I think a better replacement for the “Karen” name would be “Hillary.” Or maybe, “Nancy.”
What do you think?