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Everyday Racism Instagram on "Karen"

(248 Posts)
Mizzler Wed 02-Sep-20 19:16:46

https://www.instagram.com/p/CEpA-dlMjj_/?hl=en

I've been trying to learn more about race and racism since the BLM protest movement appeared and I'd been following this Instagram account as a way of trying to understand more about the issues involved.

This post has really troubled me though and I'm struggling to articulate why. I think it's because whilst I completely accept that black and minority ethnic women suffer great disadvantages in the UK, I'm very uncomfortable with the "Karen" meme. It strikes me as deeply misogynistic. In this post, they make reference to a "Karen" asking to speak to a manager as a way of asserting authority. Isn't that what women SHOULD be doing? Being assertive isn't the same as being aggressive, even if women behaving assertively is perceived as aggression by a patriarchal society.

I feel like I'm rambling here and I'd be very grateful for other people's thoughts. smile

OP’s posts: |
ProfessorSillyStuff Wed 02-Sep-20 19:21:54

I fully agree. I really feel uncomfortable with it for all the reasons you mentioned. Also that I know a white American lady named Karen and she has an amazing mind and personality, she's one of the kindest souls and deepest thinkers I've ever met, and she's super humble to the point of poor self esteem already. I am beyond embarrassed for anyone who considers themselves enlightened using this kind of meme, and feel sorry for people named Karen in general!

CivilCervix Wed 02-Sep-20 19:25:00

Have you read this article by Helen Lewis on the Karen meme Mizzler? It's excellent and sums up how problematic it is https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/08/karen-meme-coronavirus/615355/

SoManyActivities Wed 02-Sep-20 19:28:52

The whole 'Karen' thing is simply yet another way of people that people can be misogynistic under the guise of seeming 'progressive'.

PaleBlueMoonlight Wed 02-Sep-20 19:29:13

I think they have removed it?

SerenityNowwwww Wed 02-Sep-20 19:31:42

SoManyActivities

The whole 'Karen' thing is simply yet another way of people that people can be misogynistic under the guise of seeming 'progressive'.

Racist and sexist. Also agist.

So much for the ‘beeeee kinnnnnd’ generation.

ArabellaScott Wed 02-Sep-20 19:32:03

Of course it's sexist. Patronising rubbish to try and argue otherwise.

Yoshinori Wed 02-Sep-20 19:50:26

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Mizzler Wed 02-Sep-20 19:59:18

Thanks CivilCervix I'll go to read that now.

OP’s posts: |
Mizzler Wed 02-Sep-20 20:00:49

Yoshinori I'm not claiming the Karen meme is racist, but that it is sexist.

OP’s posts: |
NiceGerbil Wed 02-Sep-20 20:02:17

What is permit Pattie?

And no one said it was racist. They said it was ageist sexist and on another thread pointed out it's potentially classist which is a reasonable point.

Meanwhile who has been in the news for killing black men? Oh yes, white police officers. The met aren't as good at it as in USA but they still manage to do it disproportionately.

MichelleofzeResistance Wed 02-Sep-20 20:03:02

So pointing out that calling white, middle class females a name intended to dismiss, ridicule and belittle them, and is sexist and agist and certainly identifies a specific racial demographic..... proves that women who complain about their oppression deserve to be called names?

Do I have that right?

Just checking.

And btw, guidelines state FWR board doesn't allow negative generalisations.

testing987654321 Wed 02-Sep-20 20:03:41

To be honest, it’s a very Karen thing to oppose the Karen thing.

Funny use of the word honest.

NiceGerbil Wed 02-Sep-20 20:05:23

I don't think Karen is (was) a particularly middle class name was it?

ArabellaScott Wed 02-Sep-20 20:07:24

What is permit Pattie?

It's another bloody American thing. It's yet another cultural trope/story that doesn't translate to the UK, despite very earnest people trying to impose it and insist that our history/society/language are exactly concomitant and interchangeable.

thatwouldbeanecumenicalmatter Wed 02-Sep-20 20:07:49

Yoshinori

To be honest, it’s a very Karen thing to oppose the Karen thing.

A Karen is a woman, typically middle aged, middle class and white who does any form the following:

- asks to see the manager as a way to belittle shop assistants just doing their jobs/ as a way to “report” shop assistants for not doing what they want

- reports BME people for doing ordinary things e.g. Permit Patty, the woman who reported a black girl for selling bottled water etc

- participated in racial microagressions e.g. touching black woman’s hair

- is an anti-vaccer

The idea that it’s racist is extremely laughable ! 😂

Claiming the Karen meme is a racist thing is ... a Karen move.

Such a typical point of view from someone who I bet my house, isn't called Karen. hmm

Would you be ok if it was your name?

Be kind. Yeah?

ArabellaScott Wed 02-Sep-20 20:08:23

In the UK Karen is a working class name, I would say. At least, it is here in Scotland. I see people use it to deride women in a classist way, absolutely, take the piss out of their hair, sneer at them for making a complaint, etc.

StillWeRise Wed 02-Sep-20 20:08:32

Yoshinori for a better understanding of the Karen meme, I recommend you read the Helen Lewis article linked above.
Then see if you want to lecture us.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Wed 02-Sep-20 20:11:53

@Yoshinori let's put it it this way.

A group of people on MN decide to start making fun of the name Yoshinori. They use 'Yoshinori' as shorthand for arsehole, and create many funny-not-funny memes and threads along those lines. You finally decide to speak up, and somebody replies:

To be honest, it’s a very Yoshinori thing to oppose the Yoshinori thing.

A Yoshinori is a woman, typically middle aged, middle class and white who does any form the following:

- asks to see the manager as a way to belittle shop assistants just doing their jobs/ as a way to “report” shop assistants for not doing what they want

- reports BME people for doing ordinary things e.g. Permit Patty, the woman who reported a black girl for selling bottled water etc

- participated in racial microagressions e.g. touching black woman’s hair

- is an anti-vaccer

The idea that it’s racist is extremely laughable ! 😂

Claiming the Yoshinori meme is a racist thing is ... a Yoshinori move.

Do you see now that this is a completely circular argument?

shivermetimbers77 Wed 02-Sep-20 20:18:23

The Karen meme is just another way of dismissing middle aged women, and trying to make them (even more) invisible. I hate it. I completely agree that rude people belittling shop workers is not ok (and have been on the receiving end plenty of times), but the Karen thing just means that ANY middle aged woman who tries to disagree or object to anything can be instantly dismissed. The worst sort of stereotyping. And the kicker is that complaining about the Karen meme is used as evidence of your inherent Karen-ness, and around we go in a depressing, misogynistic loop.

JesusInTheCabbageVan Wed 02-Sep-20 20:29:26

The Karen thing just means that ANY middle aged woman who tries to disagree or object to anything can be instantly dismissed. The worst sort of stereotyping. And the kicker is that complaining about the Karen meme is used as evidence of your inherent Karen-ness.

Exactly!

Dervel Wed 02-Sep-20 20:44:09

I think it’s one of those things whereby getting all riled up about will potentially extend its use, and potentially calcify it completely into modern lexicon with more permanence.

Meme culture moves on pretty quickly after all, but if it becomes too much of a sticking point people will just use it more and more, because they know it will wind other up.

MirandaGoshawk Wed 02-Sep-20 20:52:02

I loathe it. I complained about its use in a FB group that I'm in and was told that I WBU because "not all women are called Karen and therefore it's not sexist". Then someone else asked if I'd like to speak to the manager. I said I AM the manager. But there you go, it's a way of putting women down. Best to ignore it, as Dervel said.

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 02-Sep-20 20:54:23

Meme culture moves on pretty quickly

You see it as part of meme culture, which is transitory. I see it as part of 'shutting women up' culture which is very permanent. From witch burnings to now. Uppity, bossy, fish wife, hysterical, nag, scold, shrew, Karen. There is no end to the ways that women who ask for things are silenced. Sometimes permanently.

RoyalCorgi Wed 02-Sep-20 20:58:21

Both Helen Lewis and Sarah Ditum mentioned the "finger trap" feature of the Karen meme, namely that the more you argue against it, the more you prove yourself to be a Karen. After all, protesting that you're not a witch only goes to prove that you are a witch, doesn't it?

Anyway, that would be my response to Yoshinori, except for the fact that Yoshinori misunderstood the entire argument and seems to think people are complaining that the meme is racist, when in fact the complaint is that it's sexist.

So now my response to Yoshinori is: go and read the OP properly, then read the Helen Lewis article.

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