August 7, 2020

Why is Karen actually so Angry & What can we do about It?

*Editor’s note: Elephant Journal articles represent the personal views of the author, and can not possibly reflect Elephant Journal as a whole. Disagree with an Op-Ed or opinion? Share your experience too.


It is easy to make fun of these women or call them crazy, but what if there is something else behind that phenomenon that is calling for our attention? 

Lately, we had been talking a lot about Karen. The stereotype of a middle-aged white woman demanding to see the manager has been around for some time. In 2020 we see Karen 2.0 screaming at Black people in dog parks, insulting others in shopping malls, and being completely out of control. 

The actions of these women usually do not align with their appearance. Most of them look like nice middle-aged ladies, but all of a sudden they turn into an emotional volcano in public. What makes them so angry? 

My impression is that these Karens are probably not half as racist as they come across. I don’t want to defend their behavior, but I would like to discuss what makes them act like that. 

During the pandemic, we had seen Karen opposing masks, as the Black Lives Matter protests kept going we had to witness racist incidents. Is every Karen a racist who hates face masks? I don’t think so. 

What these women are fighting for is their normality. They don’t want a “new normal” with face masks, social distancing, and staying at home. Karens are thriving in a society that doesn’t talk about history and politics. These ladies want to host large gatherings with friends and family and not sit in front of a TV hearing about Black Lives Matter.

It is not that they hate Black people and, of course, they care about health, but they want to be in control of what is happening. Many of them build their personality around the classic role models of the 1950s. The husband would be facilitating a good income and she would take care of the rest. 

Karen was good at that, but she can’t deal with the current crisis. She had a tough childhood and was never appreciated for who she is. All her life she tried to fit in and succeeded in that. Some of them accepted their husbands cheating on them or treating them badly. They all went through a lot of pain and never got to explore their own personality. 

These white women feel as if they deserve to look down on people living in poor neighborhoods. Karen feels superior to the Latina cleaning lady. She wants to treat the person working in the supermarket as if they were her servants. That is what she thinks she deserves after all the sacrifices she made in life. 

All these people telling Karen what to do gets her frustrated. She feels that all the hard work and pain she went through are not valued anymore. Karen does not understand that other people are also struggling. She is traumatized and wants her old life back. 

Repetitive screaming, losing control, and getting physical over face masks are clear signs of mental problems. These symptoms sound a lot like PTSD to me. I feel sorry for Karen. 

At home, she scrolls through her social media and finds all these stories about QAnon, child trafficking, and protesters destroying the country. Again, her traumatized soul is triggered. Someone needs to save these children, the country, and the best president of all times. 

Karen likes Donald Trump; she feels that he is the savior, the type of strong man she always relied on. She also did some research on the internet and found out about many troubling things going on in the world. Some of them are fake, but how does she know? 

She is scared, manipulated, and ready to go. 

With that mindset, every supermarket employee is a potential enemy, every protester could be destroying the country, and every liberal rich person might be a child trafficker. Karen is angry. 

Many Karens had to experience abusive patterns at home and sexual assault at work or college, they were not born as angry middle-aged women. Unfortunately, they direct their frustration in the wrong direction. That’s where we have to step in: 

Karen needs our help. 

She needs somebody to talk to. A good friend taking the time to unpack all these conspiracy theories would be helpful. Family members assuring her that she is appreciated for all she does. In some cases, a therapist might be needed to help with her PTSD or other psychological problems. She can’t do it on her own anymore. 

Shouting at her, making fun of the topic, or simply ignoring all the Karens is not fair to them. They are suffering. Of course, they have to take responsibility for their actions, but it is in our interest to calm them down. 

Once we listen to Karen, we might find out that she is not as terrible as it looks. The problem is that nobody listened to her for many years. What we see in these videos on social media are decades of frustration packed into one moment. 

Maybe she is just a scared woman who is not good at processing news and therefore easy to be manipulated into conspiracies? She probably has a hard time controlling her emotions during confrontations, which is why she ends up in these terrible situations.  

Seeing all these videos of women losing their temper about face masks and politics makes me worry about them. They need our help. 

Behind almost every Karen, there is a husband who treated her badly, let’s focus on him. 

He might be the racist mask denier we are looking for. These men manipulated Karen into this, and she is just trying to protect them. Karen’s life is falling apart and she needs help. She needs to break free from what turned her into a Karen. 

Let’s help her with that. 


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