Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: The “Karen” issue

I’ve been wondering what it feels like to be a real-life “Karen” these days. Through no fault of their own, Karens everywhere have had their name co-opted to signal a privileged white woman is on the premises. And she would very much like her dressing on the side. Unless that’s too much to ask, in which case please summon the manager. Also, look at this water glass. Is that lipstick? You can’t see that?  Are you blind AND incompetent?

It’s worse for real-life Karens lately. Bad enough to be associated with a jacked-up bob made famous by Kate Gosselin and the ultimate waiters’ nightmare but far worse to be used as a catch-all name for the suburban bigot who calls the cops when a Black man is spotted breathing in and out while walking in HER cul de sac.

Because I have exactly 19 Facebook friends named Karen, my research was easy like Sunday morning.

Before I get to real life Karens and their responses to my ridiculous version of journalism, let me just say I’m guilty of using the Karen slam and I’m sorry….y’all made me do it.

When Duh hubby asked what took so long for my curbside pickup at the hardware store, I responded: “Because Karen had to have her [email protected]#$%ing mulch!” Sorry Karens everywhere.

In addition to being a code word for demanding harpie and blonde bigot with the local precinct on speed-dial, Karen is the now universally accepted term for the entitled white woman who doesn’t wear a mask or social distance because she just doesn’t wanna. She’s the one who secretly meets her manicurist because it takes more than a pandemic to keep a Karen from her pink and white full set.

All of this made me wonder if real-life Karens care. As someone whose name is most often associated with an extremely promiscuous woman in a Simon & Garfunkel song, I can only imagine how much Karen-shaming must sting.

Karen S. told me “It doesn’t bother me. I know it’s some type of dig, but I don’t pay attention to it.”

Karen H. said “I just laugh and go on… Although I do brace myself when people I don’t know first ask my name.”

Karen M. said “My gut instinct absolutely hates it. My clinical, logical side says it’s not about me (and) recognizes that to openly not like it means the childish ones have a heyday at (my) expense. The practical side of me just says, Oh, well and keeps on scrolling.”

Wow. My Facebook friend Karens are such grownups! Most admitted to mild irritation at worst to amusement at best. One noted “Karens are often the badass bosses one would be asking to speak to.”

Is there a male counterpart? Yep. “The Guardian” describes “Kyle,” as an angry, aggressive white teenage boy who loves Monster energy drinks, body spray and punching drywall. As one commenter put it: “Karen might be Kyle’s mom, and they don’t have a very good relationship.”

Celia Rivenbark won’t sit at that table near the bathroom.

3 Comments


  1. James Protzman

    June 27, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Nicely done.

    We’ve been having a few Karen experiences, good to know we’re not alone. I wish everyone could take things with such good humor. We probably wouldn’t be losing so much ground to the Trump Pandemic.

  2. Karen Ziegler

    June 29, 2020 at 9:13 am

    It hurts. It is my name, so it is hard to hear. I wish people would stop doing it.

  3. Philys Feenjaiuk

    July 3, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    So people who ask for salad dressing on the side are “Karens”…? Wow. You might wanna rethink a couple of those examples. They seem kinda trivial, frankly, not to mention exceedingly common over a wide spectrum of people. Supposed to be funny? Wasn’t. Surely you can do better than, uh, salad dressing, given the many Karens and their gun-toting, fake tears police calls and assorted other misadventures afoot.

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