This cropped up in my feed yesterday:
Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash. pic.twitter.com/3YnzuATsDm
— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020
Have you watched the video? Good. Now spot the Karen.
Are you sure?
Karenism is a set of behaviors, or at least it would be if “Karen” meant anything worthwhile. It’s the request to see the manager if a service-sector worker disappoints you in any way. Or it’s the quotation of rules and regulations (sometimes completely irrelevant ones) in picayune disputes. Or, like this guy, it’s pulling the phone out to social-media-shame someone or otherwise trying to enforce one of those rules and regulations (or mere middle-class norms) themselves. Here’s another recent example:
“Karen”: the face mask and social distancing hall monitor. pic.twitter.com/R3bYp2ezFn
— No One 🇺🇸 (@tweettruth2me) May 17, 2020
Karen has a meltdown because store won’t let her in without a mask.
They offer to give her a mask.
They offer to shop for her.
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) May 17, 2020
— karen the aggressive victim (@KarenGoneWILD) May 20, 2020
Hose Karen is the worst Karen. pic.twitter.com/qmLGCYWR9F
— The Red-Headed Libertarian ™ (@TRHLofficial) May 19, 2020
For the sake of argument I’ll take the OP’s word that the filmer “politely” asked his target to put her dog back on the leash, although pulling out the phone to record noncompliance is normally preceded by something like “exCUSE me, MA’AM, but it is CLEARLY POSTED ON SIGNS that your dog MUST be on a leash here.” You know, something that could be considered polite if you completely ignored its tone.
And speaking of picayune disputes, citing city Parks and Recreation Department regs at someone because their hobby (exercising their dog) might theoretically interfere with your hobby (birdwatching) is one of the most Karenish arguments imaginable.
The woman being filmed is still the worse of the two, because her response to being Karened at was to go wannabe-Tyler-Burriss:
“I’m calling the cops.”
“Please call the cops.”
“I’m gonna tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”
Here’s an example of someone who understood this:
This is attempted murder https://t.co/Qmx0vOtQyJ
— onekade (@onekade) May 25, 2020
The other repliers who tried to identify her – I’ve seen speculation as to her name, her employer, and her dog’s (now private) Instagram account – they might have gotten the severity of her actions, as have the more recent responses namechecking Emmett Till.
But too much of the initial response was facile “what a Karen” nonsense, mixed with concern for how uncomfortable she’s making the dog while attempting to murder a human being.
According to popular opinion, though, she’s a Karen, even though she should be called something worse. And so should this one:
Is it just me or are the Karens upping the ante? pic.twitter.com/vqz3Ji7ld1
— X Æ A-MORENA (@yoyomorena) May 25, 2020
Words are defined by popular consensus even if that consensus is anti-useful, and the consensus is that “Karen” doesn’t signify a quasi-officious and/or overbearing sense of entitlement. It doesn’t even signify middle-class entitlement (or an “avid birder” in Central Park would most likely qualify). No, a “Karen” is a member of a specific race and sex exhibiting officious and overbearing middle-class-like entitlement.
So she’s a Karen, the social-distancing hall monitor in the other video is a Karen, and the guy acting like a Karen is completely blameless. And that’s why I’ve never used the “Karen” meme on this site and why, unless I’m quoting someone else, I’ll probably never use it again.