“There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people. Some are a little better or a little worse, but all are activated more by misunderstanding than malice. A blindness to what is going on in each other’s hearts…”
― Tennessee Williams
Williams, a renowned playwright, had a point. Some people are a little better and some people are a little worse. We will go further in saying that there is a rather huge blind spot however in what is going on in people’s hearts these days, as the world is divisive and split now more than ever. The vitriolic rhetoric that social media and the media has been spreading for the last six years has only poured gasoline to stoke the fires of the name calling. But we currently ask one question. Why does every woman who does anything assertive, confident, or brave, now have the moniker of Karen? And why has the Karen name been so stigmatized and demoralized? Living around Boston where “Reverse the Curse” has deep roots for all, a thought arose, why not “Reverse the Curse on Karen”?
I started this conversation with my business partner, and we wanted to take a stand on this Karen issue for several reasons. We both have best friends with the name Karen, who are nice, caring women. They are good moms, good wives, good friends, and good upstanding citizens, who shouldn’t be lumped into a pejorative classification because they were born with their name. But possibly, the biggest issue for us, we are raising boys to become men. We want them to know that it’s okay to speak up, as a woman or a man, when something isn’t right.
It was this point that prompted the biggest discussion between us. How do we teach our kids, who are inundated with the “Karen” memes, that we are just being assertive? And being assertive doesn’t have to mean you think you are better than everyone, being a bitch, bossy, or privileged. It does mean, you don’t sit back and stay quiet and let life just happen to you either.
Most people on the internet and in real life, don’t even remember if “the incident” where the real Karen was in hysterics and asked to “talk to a manager”, was in a Walmart or a Target. Another nebulous origin of the “Karen” was from a reddit.com board, where a 17 yr. old kid was getting his kicks off reading about a husband who was divorcing his wife, Karen. The 17-year-old decided to make a sub-thread and succeeded in making his own soap opera, tele-novella on reddit that got a lot of followers. From a bitter divorce, a lady with a poorly timed name “Karen” going through bitter said divorce, and a teenager who voyeuristically watched it crumble and then fictionalized it, we got the “Karen” meme.
Now, an entire new generation of kids, my kid, our kids, think that any woman who is confident, asks for something, or basically exists, is a “Karen”. What the #$%*? And worse, our own offspring think if they stand up for themselves, they figure they will be labeled a “Karen” as well (or at least the male equivalent). Because of this, a generation of Zoomers we are raising, mainly males, are looking at their moms as Karen’s for basically doing anything. Are we going backwards in “childrearing” because they are being brought up by the dominant TikTok and the algorithm matrixed internet, that serve them up this content? The content that is littered with memes and videos of women being put down over and over for being: middle aged and speaking up. Women who resemble their moms. In their little minds, that are not fully developed until they are 25, our boys are processing this information that parents shouldn’t be embarrassing and mom’s especially because they will be considered “Karen’s”.
Stanford Children’s Hospital researchers concluded that parents are still the most important role models for their children and that it’s important to remind your teens that they are resilient and competent. This struck me as I read it because both attributes are exactly what this mom keeps getting called a “Karen” for. Have I politely asked for the right change back when I was given change for a $10, instead of the $20? Yes, I did. My husband would have done the same. However, I got called a “Karen” by my son for competently (and politely) asking for the correct change. My son would not have called my husband out for the same action.
There was this great article by Amanda Montell from Chief.com and she said this, “Time and time again, scholars find that women who wish to take up professional space are expected to strike a precarious balance of appearing pleasant and polite, like the sweet-tempered caregivers we’re used to women being, as well as tough and authoritative, like capable leaders.”
While women need to take up space in all spaces, we’re expected to walk such a tightrope that one false move finds us on the floor being called “Karen’s” even by our own offspring. Let’s permanently stop the name calling. Let’s at least for now #reversethecurseonkaren and let all Karen’s have their names back. Let’s show our boys and girls, it is not about race, privilege or even a name. It’s about showing up for life and showing up for ourselves.
If any of this resonated with you, we are calling on you. Parents, moms, women, Karen’s everywhere, let’s start coming together, instead of breaking apart. Let’s stop attacking each other’s names and start showing our children what confidence looks like. Back up their mom’s instead of calling them nasty names. Let’s start the conversation as humans. #reversethekarencurse.
One half of a powerhouse producing team dedicated to making great content, making clients lives easier, raising good humans, and fighting for all the Karens of the world to #ReversetheKarenCurse. Check out the brand new instagram account reversethekarencurse and for any content or in-house advising, bringitinmedia.com.