Karen

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

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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)
    25.0%
  2. 1 Mostly harmless "You may be a redneck if..." fun

    3 vote(s)
    75.0%
  3. 2. Harmful, but not surprising in a cynical world

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. 3. Very harmful - needs to be fought as any other form of oppression

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. 4. Analogous to the N-word - as some claim

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,133
    Considering what usually precedes it, how bad do you think it is?

    A young Karen likely would have been the class snitch, tattling on her classmates to the teacher to get them in trouble. Middle-aged Karen is the one asking to see your manager. And a Karen at the peak of her powers will call the police on someone for a mild inconvenience.

    The most recent Karen fires came from across the Atlantic, fanned by white British women claiming that “Karen” is — wait for it — an oppressive slur. “Does anyone else think the ‘Karen’ slur is woman-hating and based on class prejudice?” tweeted Julie Bindel, a British feminist writer, whose credentials in oppression include being known for espousing anti-trans rhetoric. Nonetheless, the conversation around Bindel’s tweet included white women who did feel Karen memes were offensive. Hadley Freeman wrote in the Guardian that the Karen memes were sexist. Another viral tweet went so far as to call “Karen” the equivalent of the n-word.

    As a millennial black Karen, and a child of immigrants, I find the brouhaha hilarious and twisted. “Karen” is not and will never be an oppressive slur. Anyone who disagrees can take it up with my manag … — I mean, with history.

    [...]

    Freeman largely ignores race in her piece, save for one throwaway line: “People of color should describe their experiences of racism in whatever language works for them.”

    Well, many of us decided that Karen, or, say, Becky, works for us. Black American expression, including hip-hop, rap and remix culture, drives global social media culture and shapes language. Take Becky, for example: It was rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 song “Baby Got Back,” in which a white girl, disgusted by the shape of a black woman’s body, talks behind the black woman’s back to her friend Becky. Over the years, and partially thanks to Beyoncé, “Becky” was popularized in the black community to refer to a white girl, especially one with backstabbing tendencies
    .​

    I think it's more interesting that those now whining about it in the media are attempting to alter its meaning, history and context completely.

    "Karen" is usually thrown out as a label to white women who like to remind people of colour of her white privilege by being racist at people of colour and minorities. As was posted above:

    In America, white women are often believed and protected at all costs, even at the expense of black lives. In 1955, it was a white woman who falsely accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of whistling at her in Mississippi, which led to him being brutally beaten and killed. Fast-forward to recent years and we still learn about black people being arrested or assaulted because a white woman called the police unnecessarily. Becky and Karen memes and jokes should be understood in this context, part of a long tradition to use humor to try to cope with the realities of white privilege and anti-blackness.

    Dehumanizing slurs don’t gain their cruel power overnight. They are part and parcel of generations of violence, erasure and discrimination. Calling the Karen meme the new n-word or asserting that it is a sexist slur only trivializes actual violence and discrimination that destroy lives and communities.

    And to invent oppression when none is happening to you? Well, as a Karen, I just have to say — that is peak Karen behavior.

    You left out the 'it's a label for racist white women who threaten the lives and livelihood of people of colour with her white privilege'. So I am not voting.

    My god, you're turning your own thread into a white privilege meme.

    Understanding the “Karen” meme requires first understanding two things: One, the process by which memes born on social media find their way into the larger internet, becoming warped and critiqued by people who encounter them out of context; and two, the custom (also largely based in social media) of giving white women nicknames that reference their specific brand of racism. While “Karen” and “Becky,” another term for a white woman (further locked in by Beyoncé’s reference to Becky with the good hair in Lemonade) are standards, some women’s nicknames align with the racist incidents that brought them to the internet’s attention in the first place. In 2018 alone, we met Permit Patty, BBQ Becky, Cornerstore Caroline, and, of course, Kidz Bop Karen, with many of these names (and the general Karen) originating with Black women. The silly names don’t get at the weight of these women’s offenses or the danger in which they put their targets: writer Antonia Noori Farzan wondered, in a 2018 Washington Post article, whether these names are too cutesy for white women who put Black people at risk, writing, “Their memorable nicknames easily lend themselves to hashtags, memes, headlines, and ridicule. But whether the viral monikers are a productive way of calling attention to the experiences of lack Americans is a matter of debate.”

    A white woman being called “Karen” hardly seems like something to squeak up about in the midst of the pernicious, violent racism defining our current circumstances. But perpetrators don’t like to be called perpetrators—indeed, many people had only heard of Bindel previously because, in 2019, she deemed the term “TERF” to also be a slur
    .
     
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  3. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,133
    I see..

    But what does said white woman usually do to be labeled a "Karen" or "Becky", etc by particular groups of non-white people?

    Would you rather people of colour just label her "racist moron" instead?

    It's a means of being able to express against explicit racism and threats and white privilege.

    Hah!

    This is what I mean about altering its meaning and context.

    Is that so it can be labeled as sexist and/or racist? Consider it in its actual context:

    But it’s dishonest to keep pointing at the people over there who use a word for their own benefit to detract from the much higher number of much less powerful people using the same term to highlight the harm caused to them by you and people like you. Just because white men co-opt the language of “Karen” doesn’t make it theirs; and it isn’t sexist or ageist for an underpaid, Black service worker to tweet about what a Karen most of her white, wealthy customers are. It’s a way of dealing in the face of limited power.

    It’s easy to be offended when something hurts your feelings, but it’s embarrassing to be an adult and not understand the way that power shapes impact. I’m sure that being called “Karen” when it’s not your name doesn’t feel great, but I’m also sure that having the cops called on you at your job for not accepting expired coupons from an angry white customer who swears they are valid doesn’t feel too great, either.

    Middle-class white women don’t want to be called “Karen,” just as they don’t want to be called “middle-class white women.” They want their individuality known; they want to be known as Sarah, or Jane, or whatever their real names are. They don’t want to be grouped and judged based on something they have no control over. But the defining characteristic of a Karen is that she sees no one as an individual, instead moving through the world prepared to fight faceless conglomerate of lesser-than people who won’t give her what she wants and feels she deserves. She’ll wield the power that, yes, might be very different from that of a white man, as she makes her demands. And that feeling of entitlement is what makes her, undeniably, a Karen
    .​

    Just remember, people of colour are deathly afraid of Karen, simply because Karen can cost them their job or worse, their lives.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,132
    To be clear: the descriptions weren't meant to encapsulate or pidgeonhole one's outlook, they are simply examples of severity on a scale.

    By your description, it sounds like you see it as a 3? It's bad, and needs to be fought like other forms of sexism and racism?
     
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  7. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,133
    Where would you get that from?

    I think it is an expressive form or description from victims, that allows them to easily identify people who may and do at times harm them or cause others to harm them because of her white privilege.

    You portray Karen as the victim, instead of the actual perpetrator. And that's what makes this thread hilariously ironic.
     
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    37,156
    I didn't. Somewhere 'twixt one and two; it's almost like a requisite harm of market demand.
     
  9. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,132
    I don't portray Karen as anything (let alone victim).

    Presumably, this is more about the mindeset of the purveyors of Karenism, not the supposed victims.

    I'm asking. Sincerely.

    And I pointed out that - since my exposure to this is limited - I may come to it with inadvertent bias.
    So I'm looking for alternate input.



    That seems to be tantamount to suggesting there is a such thing as a stupid question.
     
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    37,156
    And Then It Was Over (... if only)

    This just landed in my twitfeed, so that's about the state of it per this afternoon:

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    Heads, he's got a point. Tails, well, it's Karen Pence.

    We heard, before the election↗, that Mike Pence had a reputation of being not very bright. But Karen? To the one, she's a schoolteacher°. To the other, she married Mike.

    But, yeah, why not declare peak and stuff the cheap-veneer stereotype into a wood chipper. Karen Pence went and broke the model.
    ____________________

    Notes:

    ° Education isn't a promise of intelligence. Donald Trump got a degree from Wharton; Ted Cruz has degrees from both Princeton and Harvard. And former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), most famous for being unutterably stupid, has an LLM from William & Mary.
     
  11. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,133
    The poll is premised on casting her as the victim.

    "How bad is the Karen slur on a continuous scale of OK to horrible?"
    1. 0 Harmless silly internet fun that too many are offended by
    2. Mostly harmless "You may be a redneck if..." fun
    3. Harmful, but not surprising in a cynical world
    4. Very harmful - needs to be fought as any other form of oppression
    5. Analogous to the N-word - as some claim
    So why do you think you are not casting or portraying Karen as anything?

    Your poll turned her into a victim from the get go. You just seem to be asking how much of a victim she really is.

    Your opening thread then asks if she is a victim of sexism, racism, classism, misogyny, ageism..

    You may not use the word "victim", but your questions directly paint her as a victim.

    Karen is the perpetrator of racial abuse.

    She literally threatens the lives and livelihoods of predominately black people, especially black women - usually by calling the police when she feels her white privilege is being stepped on by those 'uppity negroes' when they do not give her what she wants, feels she is entitled to, etc.

    American society - historically and presently - has an underlying belief of protecting white women from African Americans. Many black men and boys, and women were strung up on many trees in your country for speaking to, looking at or touching a white woman. Sometimes white women falsely accused black people of infringing on their whiteness, leading to death for the black accused.

    So your portrayal and premise that she is somehow a victim, and you may not think that is how you have portrayed her, but believe me, it is, given the historical context of the meme is, yes, kind of hilarious and somewhat eyeroll inducing.

    Karen's are racist. They like to remind black people, usually people in subservient jobs or roles, of her white privilege. If she does not get what she wants, if the black person she is dealing with, does not give her what she thinks she is entitled to, Karen will more often than not call the police and we all know how well that can go for African Americans in the US, don't we?

    You can change her name to any other name, the reason for the meme will remain the same.

    She is called Karen because it's a way for her victims to vocalise and explain using few words, how they feel and what they experienced.

    Yes, but you have turned Karen, the perpetrator of racism and white privilege into the victim.

    That is what I was addressing and querying that.

    So am I.

    "Karen" is insulting to Karen because no perpetrator likes to have their behaviour labeled or pointed out to them.

    Labeling her as "Karen" is not sexist, racist, nor is it ageism and misogyny. White women who have attempted to portray it as such have their own reason. As I said, no perpetrator likes to have their offensive behaviour labeled in a negative manner and no white racist woman likes to have her white privilege mocked in such a way or any way really.

    You have based the premise of your thread on a series of (apparently now deleted) tweets by Julie Bindel and suddenly, these questions by white authors and predominately white feminists about "Karen" start to spring up.

    You want an alternate input?

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    You mean there isn't?
     
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  12. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,132
    Hm. Maybe there is less exposure to this meme out there than I assumed.

    Karens are not victims; but they are targets.

    The Karen meme is targeted by perpetrators at a fuzzy, poorly-defined stereotype characterized by certain behaviors.
    The perpetrators are the ones promoting it; ostensible Karens are not self-identifying (except as backlash).

    It is analogous to the "snowflake" slur. Snowflakes do not self-identify; it is a slur designed by others to reduce and dismiss the voices of a different fuzzy, poorly-defined stereotype characterized by certain behaviors.

    A hypothetical Karen is only a "victim" of the Karen meme inasmuch as a hypothetical snowflake is a "victim" of the snowflake slur.

    Do you acknowledge the parallels between these two slurs?
     
  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,001
    A snowflake isn't acting badly. (Apparently) Karen is.
     
  14. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,132
    "Snowflake is a 2010s derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions."
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowflake_(slang)

    "....used extensively as a putdown for someone, usually on the political left, who is easily offended or felt they needed a "safe space" away from the harsh realities of the world, but now has morphed into a general putdown for anyone that complains about any subject."
    https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Snowflake

    In the case of both Karen and snowflake, it is the accusers who pass judgment on whether or not someone is acting badly.
     
  15. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,001
    I know what snowflake means. It's possible to not be acting badly and to be accused of being a snowflake.

    It's not likely to not be acting badly and to be accused of being a Karen.
     
  16. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    27,534
    Snowflake?? Hmmm, I had imagined it to being called "cupcake" as per a young James Kirk to a couple of over bearing Star Trek officials/security guards in the Star Trek movie.
     
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Messages:
    37,156
    And Then ....

    It is Twitter, after all.

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    You don't want to know what that means. But this manner of bombast is well-recognized. Twitter commentator AntiFash Gordon↱ noted in March:

    weird how "leftists" who hate women and engage in "ironic" racism and ableism go full NazBol about 99% of the time, and then people are like, "Wow, I thought he was being ironic this whole time"

    He happened to be referring to none other than Mr. McCarthy, who had gone off the day before about "intersectionality", and along the way in AntiFash's thread can be seen complaining that people should embrace Nazis for the sake of solidarity. And, as the commentary continues↱:

    seriously, casual racism, sexism, and ableism is a *massive* red flag

    the dudes (and they're usually dudes!) who do that shit are primed to go full fascist if they ever get their feelings hurt

    keep an eye on those dudes in your circles, folks

    He's not wrong.

    To the other, I can't blame Karen for Sean P. McCarthy.

    (And remember, if you find the backstory, there's a reason McCarthy wanted it separate from his tweet. "Ironic and jokermode and blackpilled", said one quasi-sympathetic response↱ in asking him to delete the tweet. It's not too different from the right-wing version, actually, likehistorian Angus Johnson's↱ take on right-wing irony and the fall of Milo Yiannopoulos: "It's not just his passwords. It's the Nazi buddies, the Nazi jewelry, the seig-heiling, the 1488 hand-wringing, the memes—and yes, using Nazi in-jokes as your passwords in the context of the rest of that." After all, part of the reason AntiFash put the word, "leftist", in quotes, like that, is McCarthy's approach to leftism, which often reads like gutter-comatose Poe parody.)​
    ____________________

    Notes:

    @$eanMcCarthyCom. "Anne Frank was the rare Karen to have their secret weapon (calling police) used against her". Twitter. 30 April 2020. Twitter.com. 1 May 2020. https://bit.ly/2WoiI7U

    @AntiFashGordon. "seriously, casual racism, sexism, and ableism is a *massive* red flag the dudes (and they're usually dudes!) who do that shit are primed to go full fascist if they ever get their feelings hurt keep an eye on those dudes in your circles, folks". Twitter. 7 March 2020. Twitter.com. 1 May 2020. https://bit.ly/2xrHtHN

    —————. "weird how 'leftists' who hate women and engage in 'ironic' racism and ableism go full NazBol about 99% of the time, and then people are like, 'Wow, I thought he was being ironic this whole time'". Twitter. 7 March 2020. Twitter.com. 1 May 2020. https://bit.ly/2Yp8mqN

    @raccoonmetrics. "You're a good dude. I believe in you. Please just delete it. I get that it's ironic and jokermode and blackpilled. Pls just delete." Twitter. 1 May 2020. Twitter.com. 1 May 2020. https://bit.ly/35olVrT

    @studentactivism. "It's not just his passwords. It's the Nazi buddies, the Nazi jewelry, the seig-heiling, the 1488 hand-wringing, the memes—and yes, using Nazi in-jokes as your passwords in the context of the rest of that.". Twitter. 8 March 2018. Twitter.com. 1 May 2020. http://bit.ly/2PI45uh
     
  18. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,132
    There is no actually Karen present.
    Accusers don't come face-to-face with any actual Karens, they just launch judgements at news and post memes.

    Snowflake is aimed at a poorly-defined hypothetical group. There aren't any actual people that identify as snowflakes, just people accusing others of being snowflake-like.
    Karen is aimed at a poorly-defined hypothetical group. There aren't any actual people that identify as Karen, just people accusing others of being Karen-like.
     
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,132
    It is not confined to Twitter. There are a dozen other social media sites.
     
  20. Bells Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,133
    Or maybe you should do a bit of research on the subject before portraying "Karen" as the victim?

    And I am not saying this to be rude or offensive. It is just general commentary.

    About as much as they are "targets":

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    I'll be blunt.

    Karen is a white supremacist.

    When African Americans comment about "Karen", they are commenting on the social aspect and protection of white supremacism and white privilege.

    In that context, do you think "Karen" is a slur?

    Who are you determining are the "perpetrators" in this context?

    African American people, predominately women, who are often the target of Karen's wrath, threats, abuse and white privilege?

    If you ask an African American about "Karen", it is not exactly "fuzzy, poorly-defined stereotype". Perhaps it is because they are the ones who are the victims of Karen and her ill will.

    I guess it's a case of you haven't experienced bigotry and racism, therefore you view reaction to it as being "fuzzy, poorly-defined stereotype characterised by certain behaviours"?

    So, if you deem the people who are perpetrating the Karen meme - African American, predominately women - as the "perpetrators", then you are basically determining that Karen is a victim of sorts..

    Karen's self identify by their behaviour and attitude towards others, especially people of colour.

    Do you think African American victims of "Karen" should promote Karen's voice?

    You have deemed it a slur.

    How would you prefer black people refer to racists who threaten their jobs and lives by calling the police when said racists do not get what they feel they are entitled to?

    "Karen" is used to define such behaviour and yes, it lessens the voices of "Karen", thereby reducing the psychological damage it (her behaviour and actions) does to the victims of "Karen" and her racist white privileged behaviour.

    Karen is not hypothetical.

    And therein lies your dilemma or issue with the subject of "Karen".

    Not really, as I don't really see it as a slur but a description of behaviour from people who seek to abuse their position in society.

    Then again, I don't see "Karen" as a victim as she is a perpetrator and a threat to the health and safety of others.

    And I will be perfectly honest..

    I really have issues understanding why it is so important to or necessary to portray "Karen" as a victim of a slur.. Why do we seek to protect white supremacists in society? Why should we? Why should we protect their "voices" instead of labeling their actions accordingly?

    If a woman's actions and behaviour see her labeled as a "Karen", then is she a victim of a slur? Isn't doing that just, well, "Karen"? Because god forbid a white supremacist has her privilege questioned, huh?

    So no, I don't see the parallel's between the two, nor do I consider Karen to really be a slur. And snowflakes don't really get people killed, arrested or threaten the jobs of others.

    Racist behaviour is easily identifiable, especially if you have been on the receiving end of said racist behaviour. So your belief that it is "fuzzy":
    Is not something that victims - people of colour - would agree with.

    It's fuzzy to you because you have never been on the receiving end of it.

    And it's interesting that people who criticise it in this thread have been white.. No?

    Yep.

    Just as this fellow:

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    Might not self identify as racist because he may have black friends.
     
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  21. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    17,132
    Bells, one of the ways of promoting a civil discussion is by addressing the issue, not the issuer.

    You used the word 'you' sixteen times in that one post.

    It suggests you're more interested in an argument than a discussion.

    If you want to promote awareness, accusations and blame are counter-productive. Maybe simply set the record straight, as you see it.
     
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,001
    Ah come on, don't be a snowflake...
     
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  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    17,132
    If only there were some way of doing research - somewhere one could go to get input - by asking - from other people on an issue... Hm.

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    Are you aware of anyone who says "I'm a 'Karen' and proud of it?" Not "by their behavior". By actually self-identifying.

    Because I think Karen is a label applied by other people.

    I am happy to be corrected.



    To be clear, I do not think any person is a victim. I don't think Karen are actually victims.

    I think that the people who use Karen as a label on other people are promoting hate and intolerance.

    Now, sure it did start off predominantly as black women applying it to white women pf privilege, but it is generally acknowledged in (what passes for literature on the internet) that Karen has morphed from that into a more general Karen as privileged and intolerant and wants to talk to the manager.

    So it's not being applied to racists anymore, so much as it's being applied to pretty much anyone who thinks someone out there on the internet is a "bitch".

    Again, my concern is not about Karen; my concern is about the intolerance being promoted about a stereotype.


    Racism is not the common use of Karen in its recent resurgence.
     

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