Copy your ad-free feed link below to load into your player:
The Karen, a white woman who surveys, inconveniences, and terrorizes service workers and people of color, is a relatively new term in the culture, but her character type has been with us for centuries. In this episode of Decoder Ring, we explore the history of this type, from the code names used during enslavement to the contemporary menace of the COVID age. From “Miss Ann” to the “Becky” of Sir Mix-a-Lot to more recent names like “Permit Patty,” these codes have served an important function to identify danger and ward off potential harassment or violence.
The modern Karen, as popularized by Reddit, Dane Cook, Mean Girls, and the now-endless stream of online videos of Karens gone wild, is a kind of composite character—combining the most threatening parts of so many different Karen types into a potent symbol of white entitlement.