OPINION

Lots in a name - let's leave the Karens alone

Lots in a name - let's leave the Karens alone

It is an unlucky time to be named Karen. In the past few months, the name has been used widely to describe women who are perceived to be white and to act as if they are entitled to better treatment than other people.

The term skyrocketed in popularity as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US. It has crossed the Pacific Ocean and established itself in Australia.

I first noticed use of the new pejorative term in Australia when someone on social media described a Melbourne woman as a Karen because she told a reporter it was boring to walk the same routes every day due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

On Facebook, I posted the question of whether a man can be a Karen.

I answered yes to my question and put a photo of the St Louis personal injury lawyer who pointed an assault rifle at peaceful anti-racism protesters as they walked by his big house.

You have seen that photo, right?

He is wearing a bulging pink shirt; in the photo, his wife makes her own contribution to racial harmony by pointing a silver pistol at the protesters.

Husband and wife were later charged with felonies.

A highly educated woman I know pointed out that Karen is a woman's name.

Why focus on entitled white women? Are there not plenty of white men who view themselves as entitled?

I don't know who started the use of Karen as a criticism. Someone who knew a real person named Karen?

Could the popular new name for an entitled person just as well have been Amanda or Helen? What about Barbie? Kenneth?

The person who started the new use of Karen as an insult probably did not intend to deride women in general - and everyone actually named Karen.

But here we are.

It may be best to stay away from derogatory terms for some or all members of what is an historically oppressed group, such as women.

I would put b---h in that category, even though the term is so popular that it now is sometimes applied to men.

For all you people actually named Karen: I will leave you to your lovely name, and I hope others will too.

I speak as someone whose name is commonly used to mean toilet or a prostitute's customer.

So what are we to call an entitled person? Whatever you want, but not John. Please.

John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.