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Leave Karen Alone

Karen: A pejorative term for a middle aged (often white) woman whose behavior is insufferably entitled, rude, and obnoxious; Karens are women who demand others bow down to unreasonable requests.

My name is not Karen. I don’t know who “Karen” is. I am not an entitled white woman. I suppose at 38, I’m “middle aged,” although I’ve never used that term to describe my age. I am now a suburban stay at home mom, and on behalf of all women, I implore society to cease and desist using the name “Karen” as a blanket insult to women.

I hope that this post is not misread, like I’m acting like the stereotypical “Karen” and demanding that society just stop making fun of women. I say this with a tone of respect, not in a whiny demanding tone.

I believe that the way this term is used is denigrating towards women. It is used to silence a woman from asking questions or making requests or simply stating that something isn’t up to par. It’s dismissive and insulting.

Our society as of late has normalized disrespectful terms to be dismissive of other people’s ideas and viewpoints. By using one of these terms towards another, you are saying that the opinions, words, and thoughts of another person should not be heard because of the connotations associated with insult du jour.

For example, the word “boomer,” in reference to members of the Baby Boomer generation became popularized as an insult in Congress when 25 year old Chloe Swarbrick retorted to a Congressional heckler with “okay, Boomer.” The connotations associated with this term suggest that a boomer is close-minded, stilted in antiquated ideas that serve no discernible purpose in modern society. I disagree. I don’t agree with many of the ideas espoused by members of the baby boomer generation, but I would never callously dismiss an older person with “okay, Boomer.” This is ageist discriminatory language and everyone deserves their voice.

On the flip side, the youth of today have powerful ideas that should be heard. They should not be dismissed because of their age. Innovation most often comes from youth because they bring in a new perspective. Lack of experience can sometimes be the greatest asset because you’re not weighed down by how something has always been done. Youth brings rich perspectives that should be heard, not heckled.

So many groups of people have been marginalized with demeaning language, whether it’s due to race, gender, age, ethnicity, religion, orientation, or identity. There are countless ways to hurt and belittle others, and we see this everyday in countless ways. I want to raise my daughters to be respectful towards others, and I mean everyone. I want my daughters to know that you can disagree with others, but focus on the argument. Don’t belittle yourself or your opponent by resorting to name-calling. Even if someone is acting like a stereotypical [pick-your-insult], honor yourself and honor others by using respectful language. Women have been called insulting names for standing up for themselves for generations. I want my daughters to have the courage to stand up and speak, to say what’s in their heart, to have the kindness to object respectfully, and the self-worth to know that they are children of God and so are any uncouth individuals who may call them names.

For all the real-life girls and women named Karen, leave “Karen” alone.


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