It’s time to stop making us scapegoats when others misbehave.
News for those of you who are unaware, according to BBC News,
“Karen” has, in recent years, become a widespread meme referencing a specific type of middle-class white woman, who exhibits behaviours that stem from privilege.
This derogatory, offensive term embodies all women regardless of whether their name is Karen or not.
Can we really confirm all women behaving badly are alike and deserve the same name? If so, why mine? How did one of my birth year’s most popular names become a universal symbol of negativity and entitlement?
Some will say, “Look, she’s being a Karen,” just for merely reacting this way. I beg to differ, and here are four of my reasons why.
1. Grouping people into categories against their will is damaging
While it’s been documented that attaching oneself to a group can have positive, lasting benefits, when others decide this grouping for you, it can have the opposite effect. I self-identify in groups according to my interests, my religion, my gender, and the list goes on and on. I do this because it offers me a sense of belonging. When others decide which groups to thrust me into, elements of alienation comes into play. This, by definition, undermines the very purposes of why we group.
2. My name is a name, not a label
Recently, many articles have focused for various reasons on the subject of names. You can view my satirical response letter, “An Open Letter to the Person Who Hates Shortened Names,” here. Some articles like mine are in jest, while others cut to the bone of grave, underlying topics and issues, like bullying and feminism.
Joyce E.A. Russell notes, “A person’s name is the greatest connection to their own identity and individuality. Some might say it is the most important word in the world to that person.”
When you label people using a word that undermines them to their very core, recognize you are playing dirty.
3. Attaching my name to inexcusable behaviours incites and divides
Further to the BBC report, we learn
a predominant feature of the “Karen” stereotype is that they weaponise their relative privilege against people of colour — for example, when making police complaints against black people for minor or even — in numerous cases — fictitious infringements.
As I navigate my way toward better understanding and personal accountability of life inclusive of cultural and racial similarities, differences, and society’s negative behaviours as a whole, I hold myself personally responsible for my actions.
Those who ascribe bad behaviour to my name are deferring accountability. In some cases, one could even say that not only are we name-calling, but we are subconsciously excusing the behaviour by chalking it up to the fact that the person is just living up to the name.
Are we looking for world unity or for more ways to incite and divide?
4. It gives people the opportunity to show their ignorance
I have viewed many people who jump on the bandwagon and throw around the meme without regard for what it truly stands for and for how hurtful it is to those who bear the name. Neither should be taken lightly, yet, through ignorance or ill intent, people continue to reference “Karen” in a derogatory way, for what, to sound cool? (Is the word “cool” even a reference anymore, or am I showing my age?)
I ask those who are reading (I thank you for showing interest thus far) to help reach out and educate others how “ugly” those who reference “being a Karen” is and how, in my opinion, it demeans their point of view.
To those who are guilty of referencing the meme, please stop. If you get to know those of us who bear the name, you will find many who are misjudged. If you know a Karen who fits the bill, by all means, call them out. Just don’t attach it to their name; their bad behaviour deserves much more scrutiny than quoting a meme.
Many think my displeasure at misusing my name is a selfish response and is petty. Many may think the issues at hand deserve far more focus, but I beg to differ. One does not discount the other. If we condone name-calling and thrust people into groups against their will, we are no further ahead in our quest to unite and abolish the divide.
I wish to apologize to a fellow writer publicly. I called her out for referencing the meme in one of her articles. While I stand behind my belief that the article would be far superior without the reference, I in no way meant to hurt, attack, or chastise her. I don’t believe I did, but I believe she may have taken it that way.
We are all just trying to live life the best way we can. As a whole, most if not all do not wish to be held accountable for what others do, much less based on a name.
I’m definitely not condoning the behaviours attached to the reference, whether it be toward a person in the service industry, people of colour, or any other grouping who receive ill-treatment, but it’s time to call out the offenders and not the majority of Karens caught in the crossfire.
To all the Karens out there who wear their given name proudly, carry on. Remember the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” Well, it’s okay to acknowledge sometimes words do hurt. Keep doing you, and perhaps one day, this meme craze will blow over because fads always do.