The lockdowns associated with COVID-19 have seen an increased exposure of Karens. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a Karen is defined as the stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle-aged white women.
To provide some examples, a Karen is the person who demands to ‘speak to the manager’ in order to belittle service industry workers.
There have also recently been Karens in Brighton who have defied COVID restrictions to walk in a different neighbourhood because they are sick of the same scenery, and there are Karens who refuse to wear a mask in Bunnings because such an act ‘infringes their rights’.
To put it simply, the name has built up quite a reputation and there are many poor Karens who, by no fault of their own, now deal with the daily stigma that comes with having such a name. There are even some who have gone through the painful process of changing their name just to escape the awful association.
You might think that’s ridiculous, but until you have had a brush with the potential reality of being a Karen, it’s hard to understand quite what it is like.
As someone whose name is Taryn — which is very similar to Karen — when talking on the phone, many people hear Karen. The other day when I went to pick up my take-away, I was asked what I ordered and I said ‘the chips’. The guy at the counter replied, ‘Ah, yes, the order for Karen.’ Karen. I nearly fainted from embarrassment. I was presented with a bag which had in big lettering ‘Karen’ written across the top in permanent marker. I felt like a criminal. Grabbing the bag, I high-tailed it out the door.
Now I think that was a rather silly reaction but I have an increased appreciation for the kind of feelings someone who has the name may experience. It made me consider the mental strength people named Karen must have to not wear the negative connotations that shroud their name.
So if there’s one thing you can be grateful for today, it’s that you aren’t named Karen. And if you are a Karen reading this, you have my sincerest sympathies for this ridiculous connotation.
Taryn Cameron is a Year 12 student from Tallygaroopna who writes about life in lockdown.