Women say they're legally ditching the name Karen because they 'can't escape'
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Featured Image Credit: K.Gross/Newscom/Alamy Stock Photo
Naming a child is a tricky business - a name that seems nicely original can suddenly become the most common name going. Or worse than that, it can be tarnished through association, perhaps by a disgraced celebrity or an irritating colleague.
And on top of all that, you've got to hope a meme doesn't take the name hostage, shifting public perception on a vast scale.
This is what has happened to Karens, who now have a name which is effectively an insult.
Ever since the rise of a meme depicting a woman with a dodgy haircut asking to 'speak to the manager', the term has taken on a life of its own online.
Today a Karen is defined as a white woman who is entitled and demanding, often using her white privilege to have things her own way.
The name is so ubiquitous, there's a whole subcategory of Karen videos online, costumes poking fun at the character, and even a Karen's Diner where the staff are purposely rude to customers.
It's pretty crazy, and obviously totally unfair to generalise about a huge swathe of women based purely on their name. It's particularly cruel, given that Karens can hardly complain about it - as that would just make them sound like a Karen.
Some Karens have joined a Facebook group in an effort to tackle the associations, others have given in and actually changed their name for good.
This is the case for Karen Taylor, who spoke to The New York Post about her predicament.
After thinking long and hard about the ongoing saga, she's started going by a new name of Gaelic origin and is in the process of having it changed legally.
She told the outlet: "As someone named Karen, when you go home and turn on the TV or go on the internet, you're as likely as not to see your name being misused. You walk around with a tag that says 'racist'."
Taylor said she's even encountered signs at bars and cafes with signs or stickers saying 'No Karens'.
"I'm not the sort of person who goes around looking to be a victim," said the 56-year-old small business owner. "I wouldn’t be talking about this if it were just an annoyance. It's just something that I can’t escape."
She continued: "It took me a couple of sleepless weeks to decide I had to change my name.
"Karen is a great name, and being forced to give up your name – the first thing your parents gave you – is a big deal."
Although her parents have since passed away, she said she believes they 'would have understood' as she comes from a family of Jewish Americans with a history of changing names to avoid discrimination.
Similarly, an author and educator named Karen Gross has changed her name and now goes by 'K'.
The 70-year-old told the publication: "Initially I thought it was a fad that would go away.
"Then I started seeing articles in reputable publications about the meme – using it as a platform to discuss white privilege and rude and socially obnoxious behaviour. I realised it had a stickiness.
"The assumption by people, considering that I am named Karen, is that I stand for white privilege and have a disregard for other people. That is not true."
Gross continued: "I'm sending a message about the power of memes and why we should be concerned about homogenising everybody with a certain name in a negative way.
"As an educator, I saw that happening all the time with children. We should be cautious about how we tease people and harass them over their names. It isn't a joke. It's serious business."
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