OPINION

A shout out to all the nice people named Karen ... and Becky, Ian, Kyle, Ken and Richard

Is this Karen? Maybe not ... maybe so. Photo: Shutterstock
Is this Karen? Maybe not ... maybe so. Photo: Shutterstock

Is there anyone else out there wondering why women who have recently been called out for challenging mandatory mask wearing and border control rules are being called 'Karen'?

I know I am? That's not surprising though.

And is there an alternate name for males who do similar?

I will confess that I have often felt like everyone knows something that I should also know, but don't.

The acronym LOL quickly springs to mind. More than a decade ago when I first saw this term I was sure it meant lots of love.

I never even questioned my understanding of the acronym until one day I was listening to a radio program discussing the three letters and their meaning.

One of the radio announcers was chuckling about the fact that their mother thought it was lots of love.

My first thoughts was "yeah, well isn't it?"

That mental inquiry was quickly corrected over the airwaves when the announcer pointed out that these letters actually stood for laugh out loud.

I took note and adopted the new understanding as if I was always in the loop on this matter.

Quietly I was relieved that I was not the only person with the wrong interpretation, and to this day I still hear people say they thought LOL meant lots of love.

Now back to the latest term causing me a little confusion - Karen.

My understanding was that this was a woman's name made popular in the 60s and 70s. I went to school with several people named Karen. Several of my friends are named Karen. One of my closest friends has this name. All are lovely people.

However I have done some research - largely to put myself back in the world of the 'knowing'.

I've resorted to the Urban Dictionary and have learned that you really don't want to be labelled a 'Karen'.

The explanation for this term is quite detailed but basically it is described as "the stereotypical name associated with rude, obnoxious and insufferable middle aged white women."

The description goes on to say that some of the behaviours of a Karen include:

  • Reveling in making the life or retail workers a living hell by constantly making a scene over nothing and demanding to "speak to the manager" (a near universal battle cry among Karens)
  • Threatening to sue someone for a minor misdemeanor they may or may not have committed and may or may not have even involved Karen at all

Apparently the name used to describe people who behave in this manner has not always been Karen.

According to a University of Virginia media researcher referenced in Wikipedia the name Becky was used in the '90s. The researcher added that "Karens are part of a lineage of entitled white women going back a couple centuries" and "Karen is part of a continuum ... before there were Karens and Beckys, there was Miss Ann."

Males also have a special label, or four, for poor behaviour. According to the Urban Dictionary this name is Ian and is the name for a middle aged white man that finds it necessary to hurl abuse at women who believe there is an issue with male-orientated violence.

However, the male option does not appear to be as definitive as Karen. The names Ken, Kyle and Richard have also been used. Again I have known some very nice people with these names.

I won't judge my friends by their names - their character and kindness are far more endearing.

Here is a shout out to all the nice people named Karen, Becky, Ian, Kyle, Ken and Richard.

This story What's in a name? And why Karen? first appeared on Southern Highland News.