Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Karens and related topics

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Recently, I have repeatedly encountered the derogatory term “Karen”, in the sense of a White woman who overreacts against Blacks as perceived threats, criminals, whatnots. This notably in relation to the “Central Park birdwatching incident” (to follow the terminology of the linked-to Wikipedia page). As this tied in well with some of my observations and a few recent texts, I intended to write something on the matter. However, the definition of “Karen” provided by Wikipedia seems to be much wider. ([1] is the same page fixed to the version that I read.)

Below, I will first give an abbreviated treatment of my original angle (based on my original understanding of the term), and then follow with a few observations around this and another Wikipedia page. (The first as it might or might not apply to “Karen”, but definitely contains some important points in general. Also, partially, because Wikipedia often is faulty and partisan in contexts like these, which leads to the second; moreover, usage might well have drifted.)

“Karen”:

While it might well be that some White women do have a particular fear or whatnot of Black men, there is fair chance that most alleged observations of this are specious—something that instead reflects undue fears in general among women and/or undue fears of men. This possibly in combination with the behavior of some Black men, or other parts of their appearance than skin color. If so, it is an excellent, multiple illustration of how people tend to jump to conclusions.* Specifically, many women display similar fear-driven behaviors even when the counter-part is not Black. For instance, Germany (a country with few Blacks) has instituted dedicated zones of parking houses for women—not because there is any actual increased danger for women, but simply because sufficiently many women have a greater fear than men and have complained long and hard enough. For instance, I (White) have myself had a few women very hurriedly change side of the street during walks after nightfall (in a manner that makes a coincidence unlikely).

*Examples are manifold, but one (with many variations) quite relevant to much of my writings is a woman who is fired because she did a poor job, but who instantly attributes this to her being a woman and the decision-maker an allegedly sexist man, without reflection on how e.g. her own behavior might have caused the events and without ever asking herself whether the same would have happened to a man with the same behavior. (Unless, obviously, to answer it with a resounding “NO!’, because she has already made up her mind that she fired because she was a woman.

Then we have to consider what might increase the risk of such a reaction: In my case, I am 6’ 3” and often on the wrong side of 220 lb. Chances are that an already skittish woman is more fearful of me than of someone 5’ 3” and a 110 lb—and that is even somewhat understandable, despite my posing no danger whatsoever to her. Similarly, if someone wears a hoodie, has tattoos, is of over-average muscularity, speaks loudly or with poor grammar, whatnot, chances are that some mixture of own experiences, somewhat true* stereotypes, and built-in circuitry will cause a stronger fear reaction in a woman than would the stereotypical accountant.** These are also, in my impression, likelier to apply to a Black man than a White man. Then: was it really the skin color or might it have been the hoodie, the tattoos, etc.? Or, in light of Feminist propaganda, that it was a man (and not a woman or child), irrespective of skin color.

*Most people who wear hoodies are not criminals, but the proportion of hoodie wearers who are criminals is almost certainly higher than for the overall population. (Possibly, after adjusting for some other factors, e.g. age.)

**With many other factors potentially applying in a similar manner.

Finally, to the degree that skin color does play in, is it a matter of racism or a knowledge of crime statistics? (Remember the context of a woman who is already skittish for irrational reasons—or rational, for all I care. She is already scared as she walks home on an empty street late at night—and then she sees someone who is disproportionately* likely to be a criminal.)

*Note that that this does not imply “likely”, just “likelier”.

Wikipedia:

I will not analyze these articles in detail, but I mention a few specific oddities that I saw during skimming:

  1. There are no less than three mentions of “privilege” in [1]. None of them make much sense and the whole concept is highly dubious to begin with—and, if not, it has by now degenerated into a generic and argument-free debate blocker. It has no place in an encyclopedic text.
  2. [1] abuses “they” to refer to someone who has already been identified as a “he”. Abuse of “they” is indefensible in general, but when there is no ambiguity about either sex or gender, it is utterly inexcusable and, again, has no place in an encyclopedic text. (Either gross incompetence or blatant ideology pushing.)
  3. [1] claims:

    Kansas State University professor Heather Suzanne Woods, whose research interests include memes, said a Karen’s defining characteristics are “entitlement, selfishness, a desire to complain” and that a Karen “demands the world exist according to her standards with little regard for others, and she is willing to risk or demean others to achieve her ends.”

    This matches my impressions of very many women quite well. At least one or two of these likely apply to a majority of all women (and more than a few men, in all fairness). When it comes to mothers, at least up to a certain age of the child, the situation is even worse, as many seem to think that every non-mother is a second-class citizen. Note e.g. the rude woman in a recent text.

    However, I stress that “a desire to complain” might need differentiation: If someone complains e.g. for the sake of complaining, in the hope of some unwarranted benefit,* for some feeling of importance relating to the complaining (all of which I do have the impression that many women do), then it is a negative. On the other hand, if the complaint strives to point out flaws that could and should be rectified, unethical business methods, governmental waste or incompetence, or similar, then it is a positive—we need more of this type of complaint. (And I engage in such complaints regularly my self. Indeed, this very text could be seen as an example.)

    *For instance, during a restaurant visit, I once heard two women at a near-by table loudly complain to the waiter about the substandard meat and how they refused to pay (or wanted a discount?)—despite having actually eaten all of the meat … They were in the restaurant business themselves, and they knew poor quality when they saw it! (My meal, for the record, was excellent.)

  4. A less reasonable portion is:

    While the term is used exclusively in a pejorative manner towards a person of a specific race and gender, some have argued that “Karen” lacks the historical context to be considered a slur, and that calling it one trivializes actual discrimination. Others argue that the targets of the term have immense privilege, and that “an epithet that lacks the power to discriminate is just an insult.”

    For fuck’s sake! Why would a slur need a historical context? How does “calling it one trivialize[s] actual discrimination”? This portion is also an excellent example of abuse of the word “discrimination”. Later we see one of the abuses of “privilege”, and the claim “an epithet that lacks the power to discriminate is just an insult” is potentially* another abuse in the “discrimination” family and misses the point about slurs.

    *Depending exactly on what is meant: if the use parallels the preceding, it is an abuse; if it implies e.g. that an insult that could apply to anyone is not a slur, it would be correct use (but still a disputable thesis).

    To this I note that Wiktionary on “slur” says “An insult or slight.”, that Merriam-Webster gives “Slur definition is – an insulting or disparaging remark or innuendo : aspersion.”, and that both match my own understanding well—a slur is a (one-word?) insult.*

    *This might be another case of significant modifiers being dropped by idiots, who do note realize that they are distorting the meaning of the core word, e.g. with “slur” as a short for “racial slur”, “sexist slur”, whatnot paralleling “discrimination” as a short for “racial discrimination” (etc.), while the true meaning of the respective word goes under in all the abuses.

  5. I followed a link to the page on “Woman card”. The very first sentence discredits the entire page: “The woman card, also called playing the woman card, the gender card or the sex card, is an idiomatic phrase that refers to exploitation of either sexist or anti-female attitudes by accusing others of sexism or misogyny.”

    If the author had left out “anti-female”, it might have been technically correct for some subset of uses (but highly confusing). However, with that portion in, it is clear that the entire concept is put on its head. The “woman card” is a woman* trying to get advantages of some kind, usually in a debate, by using the fact that she is a woman. This, in most contexts, is a irrational, despicable, and/or intellectually dishonest line of argumentation—and pointing it out is a good thing. Here, however, the “woman card” is twisted to refer to the one pointing the use out and condemning that as despicable—PC bullshit at its worst and entirely unworthy of an encyclopedia.

    *The page also gives Bill Clinton an example along the lines of “be pro-Hillary, because she is a woman”. This could conceivably be viewed as a relevant example of a non-woman, but non-women are definitely far rarer.

    The continuation is as bad: “The phrase is used to describe accusations [sic!] of women either mentioning their gender to gain an advantage in discussions or implying or accusing other people of sexism in order to garner support.” No: it is not the “accusations” but the “mentioning” (etc.) that the phrase refers to. (And this continuation removes the risk that the first quote was just extremely poorly phrased.)

    Note the recurring issue of a PC/Feminist/Leftist/whatnot double-standard: They are allowed to, and do, try to shutdown others with even entirely unwarranted accusations of e.g. “privilege” or “mansplaining”—but do not dare use a similar term against them, even should it have an actual objective justification!

    As an aside, “Karen” is an interesting example, as it might put two factions of the overall PC movement against each other: the Feminist, which would like to see it banned as anti-woman, and the “Blackist” (for want of a better word), which sees it as a means to shut-down non-compliant women.

Written by michaeleriksson

July 4, 2020 at 12:47 am

One Response

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  1. […] another proof that I live in a rotten-to-the-core-building ([1]): and that “Karens” are a matter of women, not specifically White women, feeling entitled and being presumptuous, […]


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