S1: This ad free podcast is part of your Slate plus membership. This podcast contains explicit language.
S2: So just to start, can you tell me your name? Well, my name is, unfortunately, Karen. Karen Ratner is an artist manager in the music business at the end of May. After I saw a pertinent tweet of hers, I reached out simply because her name is Karen. When did it start to become clear to you that there was something going on with the name Karen? I first started noticing it with that hideous haircut, with the chunky highlights. Then people were saying, oh, there there’s Karen demanding to speak to a manager.
S3: I want to see your manager or whoever is in charge. And I want the number of your corporate office and I want that young lady’s name.
S2: When it first started, it was pretty innocuous, you know, like, you know, calling you guys that punched the wall, Chet, or something like that.
S4: And then about, I don’t know, is like a week or two ago, I started seeing on Twitter the name Karen trending.
S5: Karen being code word for racist white women.
S6: There was an African-American man. He’s reportedly written myself and my daughter.
S4: I do not want to be in a category with a psycho like that. I would say at least 10 different people have said something to me.
S7: I was thinking of you today or how are you feeling about this? And it bugs you. Of course it bugs me. It’s embarrassing.
S3: This is Decoder Ring, a show about cracking cultural mysteries. I, Willa Paskin, every episode we take on a cultural question, habit or idea. Crack it open and try to figure out what it means and why it matters. Karen is a relatively new term of her particularly pernicious white woman who has been described as the policewoman of all human behavior. She’s the type who belittles service employees demanding to speak to the manager, who wants to personally mandate others responses to the coronavirus and who most of all surveils people of colors every move, notoriously calling the cops on black people for having barbecues, selling water, birdwatching in Central Park. Just for existing white women who do these things, who have done these things are for the most part, not actually named Karen, but they’re Kerins nonetheless. On today’s episode, we’re going to look at how the name Charente came to signify all of this. The answer encompasses the terms specific, relatively recent origins online, the crucible of the coronavirus, and a much longer history that involves a number of other names that black people have used to describe dangerous white women. So today on Decoder Ring, where does the Karen come from?
S5: If you are alive in America right now, you have a likely heard a Karen in action.
S8: Friends. Look at the numbers and tell me why everybody’s living in fear. Tell me where we’re putting these things on and not being able to breathe.
S3: It’s OK. I’m sorry. Apologized. It’s my fault, you know. You know what? That didn’t upset me a bit. Sorry. She called police on an eight year old little girl. You cried, hide all you want. The whole world unfeasible and illegally selling water without a permit on my property.
S5: In that first video, a white woman is trying to police every single person dealing with the Corona virus. In the second one is scolding an immigrant cab driver. And then the last one is calling the cops on a little black girl for selling water. This is just a tiny sampling of the hours and hours of Carrin videos you can find online right now. And though the widespread availability of videos like this is relatively new, the behavior they capture is not the Karen who’s been with us for a long time, even if she only recently got her name. So that’s we’re going to start with Karen before the Karen.
S7: There’s a history in American culture. I’m really thinking about the role that white women have in racial oppression, systematic racial oppression and charity.
S9: Hubley is a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
S7: And so you can trace throughout black culture the use of these symbolic white names to describe these roles and experiences that black people have. And this goes all the way back to those times when people weren’t slaves.
S9: These No-Name Mishan Miss and is maybe the oldest of these names of the Proteau carats. And it originally described the mothers, wives, daughters, sisters of slave owners.
S7: But it’s really that we invested in watching and patrolling to make sure that enslaved people were doing the work they were supposed to do and then in patrolling their entire being from day, day and night.
S5: Ms. And stayed in use long after emancipation and out through the civil rights movement. And it had a male counterpart, Mr. Charlie, which originally referred to a slave owner who became slang for basically any white man. Both Mr. Charlie and Mishan were in group terms that black people used with one another and that white people weren’t always aware of. You can see all this worked with Mishan, a song from Little Richard’s self-titled 1956 album.
S3: Supposedly, the miss and in the title refers to a real white woman and Johnson, who along with her husband, took Little Richard. And when he was just 14 and had been kicked out of his house. But the song includes the lines. I want to hear, hear, hear, Miss Ann. I want to hear her call my name. And I’m in love with Miss Ann for a black artist to be singing about a miss and about a white woman in this way. In 1956, the year after Emmett Till was murdered, after a white woman falsely accused him of whistling at her would only have been safe possible if the reference was largely going over white people’s heads.
S5: In the decades after Little Richard released the song, The Term Miss and Faded from the vernacular and another name with a related, though not identical connotation took its place.
S3: Oh, my God, Becky, look at her. But it’s so big.
S5: In 1992, with Sir Mix, a lot’s hit Baby got back an ode to plump posteriors. The name Becky became widely known shorthand for a white girl lurking around black people and culture. Even though just decades before, Becky hadn’t necessarily been white at all.
S10: There’s so many different songs and the history of black music about a big Dar Adams as a music historian and writer. Becky, in these songs was usually black. There’s Leadbelly did a song called Back in 1935, did a song called. She was a Gambling Girl, Becky, supposed to be black in this song.
S11: And you and other songs.
S10: Back in the late teens under its 1920s, there were always songs about Betty. Betty was always of a different ethnicity often.
S5: Becky was Jewish. Becky being short for the Old Testament name Rebecca. There were lots of Becky’s an early vaudeville recordings. Fanny Brice, the famous Jewish showgirl, sang. Becky is back in the ballet in 1922, that same year. Julian Rose released Becky, the Spanish dancer in the song. Becky isn’t actually Spanish. She’s Jewish, but she’s learning to dance like a Spanish dancer.
S12: Bunyon she’s many onions. She got Spanish idea, Becky.
S13: In other words, started out as an ethnic thing. But over time, that association faded away.
S12: Her daughter is Mia.
S5: Rebecca got more and more popular throughout the 20th century, becoming a top 20 name in the 1970s and 80s. At the same time, coming out of the civil rights movement and the black power movement, black naming conventions were changing. And Rebecca and so Becky became increasingly white. So much so that by the 1990s, Becky could become the quintessential white girl name in Baby got back, even though in a funny wrinkle, it’s not actually Becky who’s speaking in the song’s intro, just like because that’s exactly where I am from you.
S14: That’s right. So you can imagine all the back dancing to the song and charity hardly again. That is exactly what grew up is not ironically, dancing to baby got back like flailing around, approximating black culture, black dance like someone who used the word twerk a lot like after we learned it from Miley Cyrus. Exactly. I think that Miley Cyrus, an average groupie, Becky, is not quite a character.
S5: She’s younger and she’s more clueless. But she’s not harmless either. The Becky is a white girl who is racially obtuse, who doesn’t get it. And part of what she doesn’t get is that just her presence in black spaces can be dangerous to black people and particularly black men. There’s more threatening aspect that Becky would get a very public airing in another song with the. He better call back to the good, this lyric from the Beyonce song, Sorry for 2016 album. Lemonade was widely understood to refer to the other woman in Beyonce’s marriage, though this woman was a woman of color herself. The lyrics still accentuated the Becky’s nefarious side.
S7: Becky is just more insistent on cultural appropriation of black people, on particularly a narrative around black men, so that you may vilify black culture, which you may be attracted to for some, you know, exotic vacation model, which still goes all the way back to slavery, to black men. So that’s why you get beyond, say, talking about that with the good hair, right? They have no interest, no culture and blackness are criticizing black men in the Beyoncé song.
S5: Becky is a menace in the private sphere, wrecking marriages. But in April of 2018, she would become something even more dangerous, a would be killer who operates in public by making use of the violent power of the state. In other words, a Proteau Karen.
S15: Yeah, I’d like to report on the illegally using a charcoal trail. I’d like to go with immediately for that cause over my children and I have to pay my taxes. All right. And the person that she is and the real I need a description of what race it is African-American.
S5: That’s a clip from a nine one one call placed by a white woman who for two hours harassed a black family picnicking and grilling in a park in Oakland, California, calling the police on them multiple times. The woman who did this is named Jennifer Sheltie, but she became widely known on the Internet as barbecue, Becky, an image of Shelta on her cell phone was Photoshopped into a variety of settings like the March on Washington, so that it looked like she was calling the cops on Martin Luther King Jr. or Obama or The Jeffersons. In another image, a picture of Schultz, it was accompanied by the text. Hello. I’d like to report black people minding their own business.
S4: I just was very fascinated with the barbecue.
S5: Becky Tweed’s Abel Williams is an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and the Communications and Media Department and a fellow at Harvard.
S4: Honestly, I thought they were hilarious. I got lots of chuckles from them looking at it just sort of like a casual Twitter user. Well, I say casual, but also I researched Twitter and social media, so nothing is ever terribly well since 2018.
S5: April has been studying the particular alliterative Twitter Meems the barbecue, Becky burst. She now has a dataset of over 89000 tweets making fun of not just barbecue, Becky, but also permit Pattee, a white woman who called the police on a black girl selling water, who heard earlier in the episode and corner store Karoline, a white woman who called the cops on a nine year old boy. She falsely accused of groping her in a bodega and golf cart. Gayl and road rage, Randee and so many more so with each new meme.
S4: Most of the time, it’s a white woman who is using her power to sort of police black bodies in public spaces. It wasn’t just a meme to be funny, but people were actually sort of extending the movement in a way in particular of Black Lives Matter movement, because they were saying, look, these crimes are calling the police on black people.
S5: No wonder why people keep getting murdered by the police, naming and mocking and meaning these women and very occasional man may be funny, but it’s not a joke. It’s calling attention to what is still happening and has been happening for centuries. White women weaponized their privilege and martialing the power of the state to, quote, protect themselves and their preferences from people of color, even though it’s the white women who represent the much more grievous and immediate threat. That’s the really important thing to understand about this type of meme. The weight less important, part one that’s relevant to this particular podcast. Is it through 2018 and 19? The women in these means, we’re not primarily being called Karen’s barbecue.
S4: Becky was the first one who sort of started the trend. And then from then on, the subsequent women, even though they were given a particular nickname like Permit Patti or bus operator Brenda, for example, were still referred to as back to you. So people would say, oh, we have another Becky and it’s Peppermint Patty. Right. Or we have another Becky and it’s bus operator Brenda. So people were calling them Becky is at the time. And I think this shift from Becky to Karen is really interesting.
S5: I do, too. And that’s what I want to head next. So the pernicious and privileged white woman has gone by many different names over the years, but it’s only recently that she’s become known as a Karen. And now I want to get into how that happened. Karen is a Danish shortening of the name Catherine. It was a top 10 American girl’s name for almost all of the 1950s and 60s, peaking at number three in 1965. This puts carrot’s from the height of the names popularity in their 50s now.
S16: And just hearing the name most Americans get that a name is handy as a shorthand because it brings the living, breathing person into view. And it can also be handy because names tend to go in generations. And so often the name immediately summons not only a type but their age.
S5: John McWhorter is a professor at Columbia and the host of the Slate language podcast Lexicon Valley.
S16: It’s a very articulate way of communicating what you don’t have to define it. Even often you couldn’t define it. And yet the two of you were talking about the same thing.
S5: Say a name to someone and they will have a feeling about it. A vibe and that’s fed by a lot of things. Personal experience, knee jerk judgments, an anthropological sense of its demographics and pop culture and pop culture has been priming the Karen for years.
S1: I had an epiphany and here it is right here. There was one person in every couple of friends that nobody fucking likes.
S3: This is a bit when the comedian Dane Cox 2005 comedy Special Retaliation Example.
S17: Carrie is always a douche bag, Karen, and she’s always a bag of douche when she’s not around. You just want to be gone, Karen. She’s such a douche bag until she walks something you like.
S5: The Karen in this joke doesn’t have any specific traits or any particular personality. She just sucks. If names are like a stew of associations, this Dane Cook joke is a leading ingredient in the Karen still. Also in the stew, the Karen a will and Grace who is funny but beyond entitled. One of the lesser mean girls in mean girls played by Amanda Seyfried. Maybe even the way Ray Liotta says Karen over and over in that one scene in Goodfellas all over the house.
S8: And that was worth sixty thousand dollars. I need that money. That’s all we got.
S18: That’s all the money that we had.
S5: And then into all of this plops, one more Karen.
S19: So I’ll read it. I want to say around three to four years ago, you had a user Asia.
S5: Romano is a digital culture reporter for FOX.
S19: He actually had the now deleted user account succ underscore. You underscore, Karen. So Reddit user. Thank you, Karen. Basically made his entire account about shitting on his ex-wife named Karen. And he kind of got to be known for it. And he got, you know, suppressing these really long, elaborate, brutally angry stories that carried the original posts along with the account had been deleted.
S5: But for a couple years, this user would pop up in various Sobran. It’s the term for the theme discussion boards that make up Reddit and go on impassioned over the top performative harangues about his supposed supposedly awful ex wife.
S19: These posts turn into what Asia calls Reddit law because they became part of Reddit or Reddit did what it often does. Another Reddit is made a sub Reddit devoted to just this guy, sort of as an in-joke on the site. And so he made the sub Reddit suck here in the suburb.
S5: It became a place or Reddit users shared Meems and riffs and jokes about the KARREN lampooning her. And in the process, fleshing her out. I want to underscore that they weren’t just sharing examples of KARREN behavior. They were creating a character, a detailed in-joke with a very specific set of characteristics.
S19: She’s a. vacs. She’s usually a Christian. She’s always white. She may have multiple kids. And she’s one of those parents. Super, super, super. Like, hyper intense about how her children need to be cared for. You know, she’s probably on a diet. There’s something there’s a strand of the meme that I don’t really understand that’s associated with her buying box wine.
S5: This Karren call her Redit Karen is a very specific variation on the Karen. Karen’s now are not necessarily Christians or moms or conservative or anti vax or into drinking box wine, but the version of the Karen developed on Red. It was all of those things coming as it does out of a subrata. It based on a man’s rants about his ex-wife. There was a real misogynistic streak to this characterization, but the Subrata also did hone in one detail at a time on idea of the Karen as a suburban, affluent white mother narcissistically ensconced in her own privilege. And oddly enough, you can see that really clearly in her most notorious trait, her haircut. Remember what Karen Rudner and I spoke with at the beginning of this episode said that hideous haircut with the chunky highlights.
S13: So the Karens haircut is basically a reverse mullet softening in the front. But a whole business in the back.
S5: It’s cropped short at the neighbor of the neck, but gets longer as you go up over the head until it asymmetrically parts at the crown such that a chin length chunk of blond hair frames one side of the kerans face before working on this episode. I always thought of this haircut as the Kate Gosselin haircut. Kate Gosselin was the star of Jon and Kate Plus eight TLC hit reality show that started airing in 2007 about suburban parents raising eight children. The show became tabloid fodder and turned Kate into a kind of icon of Proteau Carolus.
S8: Literally your candidate to a kid to hand out without wrapping it in foil. Not a big deal. Why are you letting them eat lunch at this hour to this day?
S13: She’s one of the default images of the Karen. Like, if you Google Karen, Kate Gosselin shows up in part because of the haircut. Anyway, in 2014, seven years after Jon and Kate Plus Eight began airing on TLC and four years before the founding of the fuck you. Karen Subrata it a picture of a woman sporting this haircut was posted to write it with a text. Can I speak to a manager haircut? Immediately it became a thing. But it wasn’t a thing associated with a Karen yet because it predated the fuck you. Karen Subrata it. But in 2018 the two became connected. When some screenshots of the haircut were shared there and lo and behold, the Can I speak to your manager haircut became the official haircut of the Redit Karen.
S19: It’s like when you don’t know, like when you put two things together in a game and they snap, you know, things like that. That idea is that magnetic. These things go together. Now Karen is the one. But again, I think the manager here is of course she is.
S5: As the Redit, Karen began to percolate out to other social media platforms. She lost some of her Reddit associations. Some people on Twitter quickly began to see the Karen pretty much exactly the way we understand her now. And that has nothing to do with box wine.
S19: But as she spread, the Karen did stay associated with the haircut and even more so with her entitled Speak to the Manager tendency is the idea of them, of the Karen tawdry retail workers being a really specific in their treatment of retail workers in order to dehumanising them and to mean them is a huge, huge part of it, because I think it’s one that is so relatable to so many people who have had Blue-Collar jobs that have worked. Those have had those experiences.
S5: The Redit Karyn’s treatment of retail workers is the most damning and far reaching thing about her. It speaks to her deep and nasty entitlement. But it also means that this version of the Karen was not primarily known as a person practicing racism. It’s not that the Redit Karen wasn’t racialized. She was. She’s always white, but she worked her privilege and entitlement on anyone in the service industry, other white people included. Racism might be inherent in her. But it’s not her primary attribute. So read Karen shares a lot of qualities with a fully racist Karen. Both are entitled, cruel and prone to calling the authorities. They are not quite the same.
S19: The idea of Karen originally was that she was sort of self-contained and would would she might come to your store and bother you and ruin your day. But now she’s being seen as the person to get you killed.
S5: And one of the things that transformed the Karen from the former to the latter is covered 19.
S20: So really, I’ve been thinking about it. I think the reason why Karen is having a moment is because we were seeing a lot of white entitlement and the AIDS are covered. April Williams, again, I don’t know if all always seen the meme that says like her and wants to speak to the manager of Corona Virus.
S9: She wants the country to be reopened in the months since mid-March 2020 when America began shutting down to contend with Colvert. There has been a seemingly endless stream of white people trying to enforce their own personal set of rules.
S21: Karen is showing its fair to Jos. She does not have a mask. Somebody, if you leave, is well.
S9: Most of these characters have been aggressively lax and skeptical about public health protections, like the woman in Tennessee who brandished a sign saying Sacrificed the week reopened Tennessee. Some have been overly strict. Ready call the neighborhood watch on anyone not wearing a mask that anyone more often than not being a person of color. All of these covered characters were more than just a scourge to service workers, though they were a problem for everyone. And they weren’t just ruining people’s days. They’re potentially endangering and trying to control their lives. Coronavirus and other words took the Redit Karen and expanded her scope, her habitat, her notoriety and her villainy from many white people covered. Karen was the kind of crash course in the Karen one. They only undertook as they realized the Karen also posed a threat to them. But once they were attending to the type, even they could be made to see that the Karen was a far bigger problem for people of color. Which brings us to the incident on May 25th, 2020, when the Karen, as we now know, her racist Karen, fully explodes into the mainstream consciousness.
S6: Please don’t come close. Please, please call the cops. Please call the cops. African-American men threaten my wife. Please tell them whatever you like.
S5: That’s a snippet of a video recorded by Christopher Cooper, a black man who was birdwatching in Central Park when he asked a white woman named Amy Cooper to leash her dog and she called the police on him. The video was posted to Twitter by Christopher Cooper’s sister, along with the following text. Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs and someone like my brother, an avid birder politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. This video just the latest to show why people using the police as a weapon became a huge news story. And Amy Cooper became widely known as the Central Park. Karin, the Central Park. Karen was named by Black Twitter, working off Christopher Cooper Sisters’ initial tweet as a nickname. It’s almost in the style of barbecue baccy or permit, Patty. But it’s not quite because it’s not exactly alliterative. That would be something more like Central Park Synthia or Dog Walking Derby. But at this point, Mid Kove it with Karyn’s So Much in the Zayat Geist. You just had to call a Karen. A Karen and the epithet pulled everything together. Central Park Karen is when the entitlement of the Can I speak to your manager Karen and covered Karen is explicitly connected to the racial violence of calling the authorities. Its arrival just the day before the nationwide protests sparked by George Void’s death began in Minneapolis further underscored what was at stake when Karen called the cops at this point. The dominant feature of the Karen became that of racial oppressor. And with that, the modern Karen Karen, as we now know her, had arrived. But that’s not all there is to the Karen working on this episode. There were new pieces of KARREN news every single day. There were endless examples of escalating KARREN behavior, like a white couple known on Twitter as Karen and Ken standing barefoot in front of their mansion, pointing guns at protesters and a woman in Michigan who pulled a gun on a black woman in a parking lot. Amy Cooper lost her job and was charged with filing a false report. A potential law was introduced in San Francisco outlawing racially motivated. Nine one one calls. Called the KARREN Act, which starts with a C and stands for caution against racially exploitative non emergencies. And that’s the concrete stuff. There have also been so many arguments about the term. Is it too cute? Is it a slur? Is it misogynist? What about all the parents who aren’t white ladies?
S8: I’m calling Karen. Karen, if you will. But let’s be careful. We’re not fighting racism. Sexism. This guy, a Karen.
S9: That’s from a segment that aired on the CBS Sunday Morning show at the end of June. And first, I want to say that in a racial context, there are some very concrete reasons that we don’t really have a word for male characters, though Twitter is trying as an charity hardly pointed out to me, white women are the social workers and teachers and neighbors and shoppers that are typically in a position to surveil black people in the first place. Meanwhile, as April Williams said, men have been socialized not to complain, not to call the cops and barring that, to take matters into their own hands. But the other thing I want to say is that when I see some of the quibbling and griping about Karen, I’m reminded of that moment right after Trump’s election when there were all these pieces based on the fact that a majority of white women had voted for him with headlines like What is wrong with white women and white women sold out the world?
S5: As a white woman who did not vote for Donald Trump, I remember having this little twinge. Not all white women twinge or I just didn’t want to be lumped in with this group. But this feeling of being lumped in, of being misjudged, of not being seen as an individual, are being equated to and held accountable for people you don’t know who may or may not be anything like you. Besides, some brute demographic details is an experience so many Americans have so much more frequently for so many less legitimate reasons and are so much more damaging and consequential effect than a straight white woman like me. And for an example of all of this, I want to turn to one more name. One white people have applied to black women. I want to talk to soon.
S3: I am my supervisor. What is your name? Shouldn’t equal Johnson. Big fucking surprise.
S5: That’s a clip from the movie Crash, the infamously bad Oscar winning ensemble film about racism from 2004. Matt Dillon co-star as the man you just heard a racist cop. And the reaction to the name Shaniqua is supposed to be a shorthand for his bigotry. Distinctively black names have existed since the 19th century and enslavement. But the names that were distinctively black back then, biblical names like Isaiah and names related to enslavement and emancipation like Freamon and Master are really different from the ones that are distinctive. Now, those names, which include names like Shaniqua, began to appear in the 1960s and 70s as an expression of black cultural empowerment. Buckyball are starting a new cultural identity, one that was less tied to Eurocentrism and enslavement. But these names given to get some distance from racist white culture have been effectively punished by white culture for that difference. And you can see that with Shaniqua, which cracked the top 500 most popular names in America in the late 1980s and early 1990s and has often been used as a straight up racist insult. Trayvon Logan is a professor of economics at Ohio State University and he’s one of the authors of the study about the long history of distinctively black names that I paraphrased a minute ago.
S22: So these names like Shinnick will have a linguistic structure which is specific to these new names that are popular among African-Americans. You remember the very popular character on the Martin TV show.
S5: Trevor is referring here to Sean Nay Nay, the neighbor on Martin Lawrence’s TV show, Martin, who was also played by Martin parents.
S3: What do you want, Chenin?
S22: If it isn’t a matter most to you always. There’s also a class dimension to this as well and a sequel. She made a is a working class African-American woman. So when I hear people use these names in pejoratives, they’re invoking a lot of things that are consistent with, say, welfare queens and other sorts of negative stereotypes of African-American women that combine race, class and gender.
S5: You can hear a white man who is trolling Black Lives Matter outside the 2016 Republican National Convention using Shaniqua to imply all of these things when he hurls it at a black woman who has taken issue with his racism. This sort of incident is just the beginning when it comes to the racism directed at black names. The most famous study documenting this was done by Marion Bertrand and same deal Mullainathan out of Harvard, which is the admitted job applications with both statistically white names like Emily and Greg. And statistically, black names like Lakisha and Jamal. They found that resume’s attach, the white names were called back 50 percent more often and were the equivalent of eight years of work experience. Or, to put it the other way, having a black name was the equivalent of having eight years of work experience. Just disregard it. And this is only the most well-known study like this.
S22: So a very interesting study by Genea Francis, who is at UMass Boston, looked at whether guidance counselors recommend an AP calculus to students. And what they found was when they had a black female name. The guidance counselors are the least likely to recommend black girls for AP calculus just based upon their name.
S13: Having certain names in this country comes with real concrete and punitive consequences far beyond just being made fun of, which is pretty much all that’s happening to Karen’s right now. And if even that seems painful to some people, that’s kind of the point. The Karen is supposed to hurt because that’s what she does to others as much as we joke about her. The things she does that make her a Karen can be lethal. That’s why black people have always given this type of woman a code name because they needed to talk about the specific threat she presents to black life. What’s really different about the Karen is that now white people know this code, too. That’s the change. This episode is really tracing. The carrot has been here all along, but it’s only recently that many white people are beginning to recognize her and to take seriously what it means for black people to encounter her. So instead of trying to shrug her off, to brush her aside, to get past her, instead of focusing on how the term can be misused or trying to pass the blame, or asking why white men aren’t being called out to make sure you’re not being a Karen. And that no one else is either, because that is the only way whatever name she goes by were ever really going to be rid of her. This is Decoder Ring, I’m Willa Paskin. You can find me on Twitter at Willa Paskin. Do you have any cultural mysteries you want us to decode? You can e-mail us at Decoder Ring at Slate dot com. If you haven’t yet, subscribe and read our Feed and Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. And even better, tell your friends. This podcast was written by Willa Paskin. It was edited by Benjamin. Fresh Decoder Ring is produced by Willa Paskin and Benjamin Fresh Khelil. Evan is our research assistant. Thanks to Regina Bradley. Maria Konnikova. Alicia Montgomery. Gabriel Roth. Danielle Hewitt, Christopher Johnson, June Thomas, Christian Catoe and everyone else to give us help and feedback along the way. See you next month.