The Damage of the Karen Meme

by Aug 25, 2022

Damage of the Karen Meme

As a result of a meme which uses a specific name to illustrate a negative stereotype, some women are seriously considering changing theirs 


I have just spoken to a woman called Karen who is seriously considering changing her name because of the Karen meme. She feels it is impacting  what people think of her and how they are boxing her into a negative sterteotype.

The name Karen itself was originally a Danish form of “Katherine,” descended from the ancient name “Aikaterine. ” It was popular in the US in the mid-60s and has been doing the social media rounds in the past couple of years to convey a specific stereotype.  It has become a pejorative symbol that conjures up an image of a white, overly privileged, middle-aged, (not Boomer) racist woman, frequently anti-vax, usually behaving badly (no appallingly) in a public place.


A common feature of the “Karen” stereotype is that they weaponise the privilege of their race and gender to make life difficult for people they perceive to be inferior to them. In extreme cases they make fictitious police complaints against black people.

This seems to have stemmed from the popular “Can I speak to a manager?” meme, which became have become infamous online for shameless displays of entitlement, privilege, and racism, and the tendency of some people to call the police when they don’t get what they want.


Damage of the Karen Meme


Worth a read: Understanding gender stereotypes – why we are missing the point

A bevy of Karens

Over the course of the years, these “Karens” have been filmed during their various tirades. Amy Cooper, a white woman, called the New York police from Central Park because an avid bird watcher who happened to be black asked her to put her dog on a leash. She told the police that an “African-American man” was threatening her, emphasizing his race to the operator. This incident now has its own Wikipedia page.

The name Karen has also become associated with anti-vax behaviour and refusal to wear masks in public places.

Since the out outbreak of the pandemic, video recordings have surfaced on social media of people refusing to wear face masks in shops and restaurants. “Karens” are frequently abusive to staff regardless of their ethnicity.  The same stereotype is also applied to women who share misinformation and fake news about the corona virus, as well as other conspiracy theories.

Bullying of another group

But is this fair to real women named Karen to objectify them all with a blanket negative sexist stereotype? It is de-humanising and “othering” so it is hardly surprising that the number of baby girls named Karen is now plumetting.

My own contact Karen is about to become Katerina, and I suspect we will see more of that, if the damage of the Karen meme continues. What we conveniently gloss over is that this is just another form of stigmatizing, bullying and mobbing.

We are basically using one negative behaviour to call out another.


Contact us for information on our workshops on Managing Unconscious Bias


Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events



📢New Programme available with 3Plus International

“If you have a brain you have a bias” and nowhere is this more apparent than in our hiring processes.

The ‘How to Mitigate Bias in the Recruitment Process’ programme is designed to convey the serious nature of bias in the recruitment process with a focus on gender bias and the way it impacts both businesses and organisations, but in a way that is thought-provoking and engaging.



Full programme details HERE

Dates for the Diary

Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally digital world.


best job search


3Plus Online Learning Programs 





Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles

The Gift Of Shared Parental Leave

The Gift Of Shared Parental Leave

Shared Parental Leave is a mechanism for supporting parents to divide parental leave in ways that work best for them as family – improving well-being and long-term loyalty and performance.

read more