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“Karen“


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#1 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:08 AM

no - not a baby name thread!

Karen the Gen X stereotype - the apparently peevish white middle class woman who asks to speak to the manager....here is (IMO) a really good article by Julia Baird - why mock Karens for challenging authority? isn’t that just cementing sexist stereotypes?

https://www.smh.com....213-p540mv.html

from the article -

“The fact that Ken is absent as an entitled stereotype is even odder when you consider men often complain more than women. An Ecuadorean study found female consumers were less likely to complain than male. (One Swedish study found women make more complaints than men when it came to medical malpractice, but they also had more complaints upheld than men.) Research by
Qudini, a London “customer experience management platform”, found that while women were more likely to have poor in-store experiences – far worse experiences with “rude or unhelpful staff” – men are more likely to complain directly to a staff member and on social media, while women complain to friends.

And, here we go – more men than women requested to speak to a manager. But it’s the women we make fun of. Men assert, women whinge. Men point out problems, women are being Karens. Florence Nightingale was a Karen: privileged, annoying to anyone content with the status quo, and insisted on seeing the manager – for her, government ministers, flooding them with complaints in the form of pie charts and entire new models of military medical systems. The second wavers – the women’s liberationists had no truck with politeness, with queues and submission. They marched, called for the managers, demanded change, and ran in greater numbers for office, seeking not to access, but possess power.“


#2 kimasa

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:26 AM

My issue with that argument is that the Karen meme isn't actually about challenging authority, it's about unreasonable customer service demands, which then spun into unreasonable demands in general.

"Karen" and "Ken" aren't challenging authority, they're walking in the door at 4:59 when the store closes at 5 and making everyone stay past the time they get paid while threatening to get everyone fired, hence the manager.

#3 Hands Up

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:28 AM

Yep. You are right there is no male equivalent being mocked. I think of “Karen “ as less of a middle aged general stereotype and more as an out of touch, anti SSM anti everything that helps others stereotype and a racist bigot to boot (possibly helped by the flag incident of 2019!). Kind of like the “ok, boomer” response.

But yes, males are as bad if not worse and somehow escape.... again.

#4 BadCat

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:39 AM

I agree with Kimasa.

But I also agree that it's unfairly targetted at Karens and not Kens.  There are plenty of Kens out there not getting mocked for being entitled creeps.  I deal with entitled prats regularly and the number of Karens and Kens is about even.

#5 newmumandexcited

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:40 AM

As a teacher I deal with a lot of Karens. A lot. And the weird thing, I deal with very few Kens. I wonder if the women are doing the talking for a shared issue or the women themselves are just demanding more.

They can expect so much for their children eg a complaint mid-week: ‘of course ds should be in the gifted class, after all I’m gifted.’

Non ironically.

#6 RPM

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:46 AM

 newmumandexcited, on 15 February 2020 - 10:40 AM, said:

As a teacher I deal with a lot of Karens. A lot. And the weird thing, I deal with very few Kens. I wonder if the women are doing the talking for a shared issue or the women themselves are just demanding more.

They can expect so much for their children eg a complaint mid-week: ‘of course ds should be in the gifted class, after all I’m gifted.’

Non ironically.

I think there is a good chance it is women raising a shared issue or even their husband's issue.

I find that where typically "mother/wife" issues are involved (school, shopping, cleaning, children's activities), a lot of men will complain to their wives and expect them to sort it out rather than complaining themselves.  The wife then feels pressured by the husband to raise the issue.

#7 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:47 AM

yes i agree with Kimasa’s point too - but i think “Ken” needs to come in for criticism too, and so i liked her point on that. “Karen” is bearing the brunt of the class (and aged) based criticism, where there are plenty of white middle class middle age men who are unreasonably demanding and don’t check their privilege - as ever - women are judged more harshly for the same behaviour.


#8 kimasa

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:49 AM

I think your Karen vs Ken quantities vary from occupation to occupations.

Teachers probably deal with more Karens because there are still so many men not involved in their child's education.

I deal with both but in different ways, due to the same reason as above Karen is more likely demanding books be banned because her 17yr old picked a YA book that is about a teen transitioning and is threatening to get me fired for not doing so. Ken is more likely demanding that I magically fix the wifi that IT have been working on for hours and is then threatening to get me fired for not waving a magic wand at the router.

DH works for a volume builder and his job is basically taking all the alterations people want to make and coming up with how much extra it's going to cost them, then telling them that. He deals with significantly more Kens then Karens. Ken wants a bedroom changed into a soundproofed surround sound home theatre and he would like it to cost no more than $10.

#9 BadCat

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:51 AM

Women do tend to deal with a lot more situations than men do that would come under this umbrella though.

Women carry the load and so they are more likely to be the one's talking to the teachers, doing the shopping, handling the medical appointment, calling Centrelink, sorting out the overcharge on the electricity bill....

Given that women are overwhelmingly the one's doing the work, it's not unreasonable to come across more Karens than Kens.

I do come across a lot of Steves though.  Steves are often mansplainers, always sexist, often abusive.  But the context is different.  Steves tend to be online and I doubt they say any of the same stuff in the real world outside of men's groups.  I see a lot more Steves than I do Karens.

Basically, men are more entitled and more vocal, but women are still copping more feedback when they dare act like a d*ck than men ever do.

Edited by BadCat, 15 February 2020 - 10:53 AM.


#10 kimasa

Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:53 AM

Meanwhile, go a generation up and the joke is Jim. Jimette comes up every now and then, but it's mostly Jim.

If someone is telling you how stupid you are while you're fixing their computer that they asked you to fix, it's Jim.

#11 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 15 February 2020 - 11:36 AM

i wonder if the tone of the karen meme has changed over time? i remember seeing it at first in reference to the unreasonable customer service demands - but lately i’ve seen it applied in ways that i think are unwarranted.

i was following a thread on twitter recently - there was an article about female High Court judges being interrupted at something like twice the rate of male judges -the female judges were “ok karened” by some of the people commenting - and then the inevitable “women in very senior roles - white women no less - whinging * “cry me a river”. well, ok - but where does that logic go - should the person who penned the article not have written about it? is it ok that female judges apparently don’t speak with the same authority as male judges? is that just a coincidence? or is it noteworthy but only if the judges are working class and non white - so the fact that the women are middle class and white - should they not raise it? so, shut up woman? it was probably white middle class barristers doing the interrupting, but, is that ok?


#12 kadoodle

Posted 15 February 2020 - 12:18 PM

Yes, it’s now become a cutesy way of telling women to get back in their box.

Which is also disempowering to the harassed customer facing staff who came up with the notion in the first place.

#13 qak

Posted 15 February 2020 - 01:15 PM

Why is it Ken? Should be Kevin!

#14 gruidae

Posted 15 February 2020 - 01:52 PM

I think the men from the Karen generation get boomer-ed instead because they don't have an identifying fashion trait. To many people,middle class white men all look the same with the same haircuts from about the age of 40-60.

Those using it about the article about barristers vs judges aren't the original intention of the stereotype, which is mostly about people who use their privilege to "punch down".

Mind you, in my experience 90% of magistrates are in fact Karens, Kens and not-ok boomers. If I had a dollar for every time I've been supporting someone in court and they've cut off a nervous applicant for a DVO being questioned aggressively by their abuser with a curt "Alright Ms XXX, you're under oath to answer the question succinctly!" - deliberately trying to elicit tears, then once it does saying "If you're not fit to continue I'll be forced to adjourn this case".

This is especially true if the applicant is a person of colour and the abusive partner is white.I had to get into a routine of forewarning people "He will try to make you cry to get the case adjourned, the magistrate will try to make you cry to get through their list faster" Maybe a little better since they got specialist magistrates to volunteer for DV hearings but still kind of hit and miss on the empathy front.Something about the power of the position attracting people of limited empathy, both male and female.

DP calls the women who are like this Karen and the men Boomers.She works servicing cafe equipment. Mostly this work is done during the night but also emergency call-outs when something breaks down.She comes home b**ching about 'boomer men' and 'Karen women' who are outraged and demand the counter staff "Tell her to turn the machine back on, I'm in a hurry" for their latte and leave scathing reviews when the equipment is being serviced or repaired. Ummm...no, it has no o-rings in it right now and it will p*ss frothed milk all over the floor and run under the counter onto your designer shoes.

So maybe this one isn't about sexism so much as about men's age group being unidentifiable because they're all so samey looking, so they get lumped in with boomers.

#15 purplekitty

Posted 15 February 2020 - 03:30 PM

I've always interpreted Karen as white,female entitlement wth a probable large helping of racism and anti-feminism.

#16 me-n-b

Posted 15 February 2020 - 03:54 PM

I have been feeling uncomfortable about the Karen memes for some time now. Agree that they have changed. Feel like now (as a nearly 40yr old woman ) that if I speak up for my rights as a consumer, return something faulty, question something, etc that I am being seen as a Karen. I'm not advocating being rude or demanding but I do want to teach my daughter that it's ok to stand up for herself.

#17 purplekitty

Posted 15 February 2020 - 04:00 PM

The original Karen was a haircut.

#18 Feral-as-Meggs

Posted 15 February 2020 - 04:14 PM

It’s extremely difficult to make headway against a bureaucracy, whether it’s a government department or a big company.  

By design they have layers and layers of ill-paid disempowered functionaries to deflect their clients/customers.   The real decision-makers hide behind these staff to avoid accountability and to have plausible deniability when they get caught out.  

Meanwhile the client-facing staff cop all the emotional fallout.  

It’s just another facet of capitalism.  

Of course there are loads of “Karens” asking for ridiculous stuff.  But there are also loads of perfectly nice overburdened women who are just trying to sort out whatever issue they have.  







#19 fruitfairy

Posted 15 February 2020 - 05:11 PM

View Postpurplekitty, on 15 February 2020 - 04:00 PM, said:

The original Karen was a haircut.

That's what I thought too.  I may have called my husband that at one point when he started to grow his hair and was actually sporting "the Karen".

#20 RichardParker

Posted 15 February 2020 - 05:20 PM

I've been guilty of spewing expletives when I come for a 3pm coffee and the machine has been turned off.  Its not because I feel l'm entitled to a coffee, I'm just barely holding on to sanity and mental stability and that coffee was my last hope for the afternoon....

Has anyone read "Why We Can't Sleep"? - there was an excerpt in the Australian's Magazine a few weeks ago - I wanted to buy the book but then didn't want to spend the money on a paper copy but have lost my kindle somewhere in the house.  

It's about Gen X Women and why we're so stressed out and miserable, whatever situation we are in.  Maybe we're Karens because we're crying out in despair for some semblance of life amidst the debt and pressure.

Edited by RichardParker, 15 February 2020 - 05:21 PM.


#21 Lucrezia Bauble

Posted 15 February 2020 - 05:29 PM

View PostRichardParker, on 15 February 2020 - 05:20 PM, said:

I've been guilty of spewing expletives when I come for a 3pm coffee and the machine has been turned off.  Its not because I feel l'm entitled to a coffee, I'm just barely holding on to sanity and mental stability and that coffee was my last hope for the afternoon....

Has anyone read "Why We Can't Sleep"? - there was an excerpt in the Australian's Magazine a few weeks ago - I wanted to buy the book but then didn't want to spend the money on a paper copy but have lost my kindle somewhere in the house.  

It's about Gen X Women and why we're so stressed out and miserable, whatever situation we are in.  Maybe we're Karens because we're crying out in despair for some semblance of life amidst the debt and pressure.

it’s a good point RP - i read an article recently calling us the “sandwich generation” - we are often sandwiched between still caring for quite young children ANd caring for elderly parents.


#22 gruidae

Posted 15 February 2020 - 08:06 PM

View PostRichardParker, on 15 February 2020 - 05:20 PM, said:

I've been guilty of spewing expletives when I come for a 3pm coffee and the machine has been turned off.  Its not because I feel l'm entitled to a coffee, I'm just barely holding on to sanity and mental stability and that coffee was my last hope for the afternoon....



While I understand being on your last nerve.just try to remember the woman fixing the machine gets paid less than you and has probably worked from 11pm-7am,  gets no penalty rates as it's piecework then had her sleep interrupted on a callout and is due to start at another store at 11pm that night. She may also be juggling multiple generations.She's not deaf and she won't think highly of you lording it over some poor teenage barista on her behalf.

You spewing expletives just might get on her last nerve which won't make her spew them back at you. She'll be well aware she's service staff, the barista is as well and you have the power position as a consumer with rights they don't have, like being exposed to verbal abuse at work.

It will however, get you called Karen when she gets home and possibly even an entry on r/retailhell , which is an evolution of an old livejournal "customerssuck" where I believe the term Karen was first coined back in the early noughties.

The same goes for what gets labelled as "boomer" men who think it's counter staff / female service people's job to put up with flirty chit chat.

That's the main gender divide on enititlement and hospitality industry staff, according to the stories DP tells. The women carry on and threaten jobs by going up the food chain -who they're then shockingly polite to because they see them as equals - the men want their ego flattered by someone who can't tell them to **** off.

She hates daytime callouts because there's customers in-store and the reason she's there will definitely cause them inconvenience, which causes tantrums.

#23 Lime-Polka-Dot

Posted 15 February 2020 - 08:12 PM

View Postpurplekitty, on 15 February 2020 - 04:00 PM, said:

The original Karen was a haircut.

Which was also often called the "I want to speak to a manager" haircut.

#24 Lime-Polka-Dot

Posted 15 February 2020 - 08:15 PM

View Postnewmumandexcited, on 15 February 2020 - 10:40 AM, said:

As a teacher I deal with a lot of Karens. A lot. And the weird thing, I deal with very few Kens. I wonder if the women are doing the talking for a shared issue or the women themselves are just demanding more.

They can expect so much for their children eg a complaint mid-week: ‘of course ds should be in the gifted class, after all I’m gifted.’

Non ironically.

I've had a few instances of bringing in Ken to try to intimidate me into doing whatever Karen wants- usually he has only heard half truths of her half of the story.

#25 RichardParker

Posted 15 February 2020 - 08:20 PM

Yeah OK. I did my time in retail for peanuts as well- I didn’t say I was lording it over anyone - I just swore in the vicinity of a hipster barista (who was actually a man)- at my regular cafe - not swear AT someone or threaten jobs. Anecdotally, the rudest I’ve ever seen someone be was my millennial admin staffer who we took out for a work lunch- she was downright obnoxious to the waitstaff who got her order slightly wrong. Some people are douchebags.

ETA- the machine gets turned off at 3pm everyday at my local cafe- I’d just left it too late- it wasn’t broken.

Edited by RichardParker, 15 February 2020 - 08:27 PM.





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