Looking for Karen

I feel sorry for all my friends named Karen. I’ve always liked the name and even considered (briefly) naming child#2 Karen except he ended up being son#2 so that name was out. But back to Karen. When I first heard Karen used as a descriptor it was, according to the Urban Dictionary, specifically: a pejorative term used in the United States and other English-speaking countries for a woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others. Karen was generally portrayed as having a blonde bob haircut, asking to speak to retail and restaurant managers to voice complaints or make demands, and being an anti-vaxx , Generation X soccer mom.

Then it started to change and was soon applied to all white women engaging in what was considered racist acts. And now? Now anytime a woman asserts herself, whether appropriately or not, she is labeled a Karen. In fact it is now applied to any woman for any reason as an insult! Why am I even bringing this up? Because I was called a “Karen”. I was paying for my purchase at Goodwill. I was using “Goody Bucks” which are in store credit. A manager is required to enter a code. The cashier paged the manager and the transaction was completed. It took all of a few more seconds. However the young man behind me was very impatient. When the girl called the manager on the intercom he muttered “Karen” just loud enough to be heard by me and several others in line. I pretended not to hear him. I had a pleasant exchange with the young lady at the cash register and left smiling. Surely this was an anomaly. Nope. I went to the grocery and the cashier rang up my pears as grapes (pears were $0.88 a pound and grapes were $1.19). I pointed out the error and she corrected it… The couple behind me were giving me the stink eye and when I looked their direction they glared at me. As I was moving away, they commented to the cashier that “It must be so hard dealing with all the Karens”! Really? I’m a Karen?! I suspect that it is much easier to label all women who pose an inconvenience to you personally as Karen than to take responsibility for holding yourself in check.

Keep your attitude and tongue in check
Airing grievances or slights perceived
Remember we are all human
Equal in the eyes of God if not man
Never forget “There but for the grace of God go I”

A little Acrostic poem to remind us to be nice and have a little compassion for our fellow humans – both man and woman!

57 thoughts on “Looking for Karen

  1. I have never heard that about the name Karen and hope I never do because it is a beautiful name and. Maybe it is locational~? There are so many ways to be bigoted in this world, I hope I never hear that one again, don’t you~?

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      1. Oh YES~!

        This may explain why I use the acronym “SAM”. It was not my fault that my family history brought me to the “handed down” name of “Marion”, from our ancestors. This did not bother me as long as I was in the South, but through the years I have very often been asked if Ms. Marion is home. There are times that I rather “boil” at the stupidity of their ignorance, but when I went away to school that common error brought me to the realization that I needed a “nickname”.

        The name “Mike” was already taken by my sister Myra so I needed to come up with one of my own. What I came upon was a simple “SAM”, which is an acronym for “Same As Marion”. Really works well, except for those looking for the recognized name Marion. Oh it started out as “Smiling SAM the working girls friend”, but that was too long and some people just did not like it. Besides today it may no longer be appropriate~!

        SAM

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        1. You are in good company – John Wayne had the same name. There are lots of names that over the years have faded in and out of favor. Leslie used to be a man’s name and now you only see it used for women. I gave both my sons names that were not popular but had special significance as family names. My younger son seems to take great pride in his name as does son#1… Of course there are some names that are just cruel. A receptionist I worked with told me about her father – first name was May. When he joined the Army he “accidently misspelled it” as Mayn – short for Maynard. It kept him from being beat to a pulp…

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          1. One of my sisters, after marriage, had a family of two daughters and a son. As grown women each of the women decided to change their names….(legally). Her nickname had always been Tee, a cute name meaning tiny in our native French, because she was very small in statue. She changed it to Tia, aunt in Spanish… I thought this was dumb. Even today I have a real problem remembering the new names, so we refer each as “old what’s her name”. Her son was the only one who kept his birth name and he was a “JR” having the name of his father, who was a terrible person and a well known despot, who had very few friends due to his mean (Trumpean) ways. If any of them needed to change their name it would have been the son. True story~!

            As for Marion, when making an appointment or reservation on the phone, I always use SAM, which does do away with a lot of explaining on the phone.

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            1. I have never seriously considered changing my name though I did toy with the idea as a teen (a silly phase). I’m glad you found a work around that makes life a little easier!

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  2. Good grief, re their Karen comments towards you! It is SO hard for me to remember, when I am in the situation, that what someone says something like that, that they are speaking of themselves more than of you. Thank you for the acrostic…writing that down: Never forget.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. Takes time and is something that is not easy… Many times I went to my mother in tears because of some mean-spirited remark only to have it explained that their words would only “stick” if I chose to let them. Not an easy concept for a child.

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        2. Takes time and is something that is not easy… Many times I went to my mother in tears because of some mean-spirited remark only to have it explained that their words would only “stick” if I chose to let them. Not an easy concept for a child.

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  3. I’ve been aware of the pejorative use of Karen, and how it evolved. I grew up with a lot of girls named Karen and silently wince for each of them as I imagine their challenges when introducing themselves. With humor, I suppose it would be something like: “Hi, I’m Karen ____. And NO, not THAT Karen.”

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    1. I know a lot of Karens too and I’d say that all of them are good people – polite, caring, gentle and with a sense of humor that is currently getting a real workout!

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  4. Just like everything else in our society right now, it starts with one little thing and explodes into something else. We appear to have lost our ability to do moderation.
    My “wife”s name is Karen. Ha. That’s a little household joke. I get a lot of mail for Karen and Carrie. Apparently there was one time when somebody heard Karen instead of Carrie and then it was sold to whomever. So now, we’re a couple. It’s exciting. My real spouse doesn’t mind.
    How terrible that you expect accuracy.

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    1. There are several men in town with my husband’s first and last name. For several years I was getting mail for Lisa. Seems she was in a little bit of financial difficulties due to credit card woes. It nearly took a lawyer to get it straightened out! I feel for you – especially since you’ve been misnamed Karen!

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  5. I’ve dealt with enough of the real “Karens” when I worked at the hotel that it leads me to believe those people muttering about you are the ones that feel entitled to go through their days being catered to and should be called “Karen”.

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    1. Hehe! I bet there are plenty of people in service positions that have had to deal with the entitled customers. It just irks me that the term is now applied so broadly that the name Karen is being bandied about and applied to every female in any situation. I suppose you are correct in that they are likely the entitled in these scenarios.

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      1. Ha ha, a small advantage of being deaf is not usually hearing such stupidity, and even when heard using my handicap to ignore them~! I once did hear such a negative comment about me, which they thought i would not hear, after that day, the kid that said it, no longer worked at that place~!

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        1. It is always the best policy to avoid saying anything in public which would result in a parental reprimand. I sometimes catch myself and at 62 still ducking to avoid my father thumping me on the top of my head… I guess it has kept me in line all these years.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. I am so disappointed and surprised to read this. I never knew about this aspect of, pardon me, bitchiness! This is the first time I have heard about the name Karen. I think Karen is a pretty name. You should have just turned around and said, “you are such a Karn (pile of ugly rocks), and walked away. He would have to sizzle and wait till he went home to get the meaning.

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  7. It’s just stupid. Women have enough problems asserting their legitimate rights without being labeled for doing so. The so-called Karens were not doing that. It’s bad enough that THEY were labeled with a perfectly good name belonging to many great women (like my neighbor) when there was already a perfectly useful phrase, which would “entitled bitch.” I read an article about the use of the name and, apparently, it’s a name that’s seldom given to children “of color.” (I hate that phrase. How’s it different from “colored people”?) Even so, I taught an African American girl whose name was Ashley. When I called roll for the first time, she said, “You didn’t expect that to be me, did you?” and we both cracked up. No, I didn’t. I expected a tall, slender, dark-blond with a manicure.

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    1. Every culture and country has favorite names that point to tradition and history and language. As such we do make assumptions about people based on their names. Still, the use of “Karen” seems a shame when the English language is rife with alternative descriptors. I like fescennine, and scurrilous, and giglet.

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    1. The Karen Hill Tribes are very interesting! I ended up reading about 4 posts and then looking them up on google. Now an hour later I have to finish this comment! Too many men are afraid/uncomfortable around strong and determined women….

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  8. Thanks (I think) for educating me on the meaning of “Karen”. I think this whole Covid thing has made everyone just a little more impatient and less tolerant. I consider myself to be more friendly and forgiving than average but I found myself getting short with the Frontier Communications customer service rep today and realized I was out of character. Just call me Karen.

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    1. NEVER! Everyone gets a little testy when dealing with Com giants. Unless you were screaming for a manager and demanding free services I see no resemblance (with the original meaning). I’m hoping that in a year this latest slang will fade into obscurity.

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  9. Great post addressing a very real but rarely discussed problem. My best friend’s name is Karen and she’s a great person. Also, abusing the Karen derogative anytime a woman of a particular race asserts herself is dead on right! I can just see the world’s bullies taking this and running with it! Thank you for posting!

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  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds the term “Karen,” when used in a derogatory way, offensive. It is sexist, and also racist. I get so very tired of the stereotyping and labeling that goes on these days. If someone is acting obnoxiously and demanded privileges that aren’t available to everyone, then just call them what they are: obnoxious people who think they’re better than others. There’s no need to bring sex or race into it. It’s hard enough to be an assertive woman as it is……. Sometimes it seems to me as if society moves one step forward and then one step back.

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    1. It was a shock to me too. I figured that if I was rude in return that would have just confirmed their opinion… Karen is a lovely name that is probably going to take a hit in the popularity polls because of this.

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  11. I have several friends, a cousin and a cousin-in-law by that name, and find them all delightful people. Those who want everyone else to be compliant and not “in their way” are the ones who deserve pejoratives. I was brought up that when one waits in line-one waits patiently, as there are usually good reasons why some people take more time when it’s their turn-especially with those who are elderly, disabled-or are just having to have something corrected.

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