I’m pretty certain that everyone reading this is familiar with the whole Karen phenomenon. You know, the ‘I want to speak to the manager’ Karen. We’re a little sensitive about the whole Karen thing here at Perfect Avocado Retreats, so here’s the backstory as it relates to Perfect Avocado Retreats. When we were in the nascent stages with our company, we had to figure out who our customer was. We came up with all sorts of behaviors and characteristics for this woman - and we fondly named her Karen, because that’s a pretty common name for women of our generation.
In addition, my partner Amy has an amazing business coach from whom we’ve learned so much. She is the smart and accomplished Karen Walrond, of Chookooloonks.com - a black woman whose name is now synonymous with white women racists! The indignity of it all!
I have to tell you that when I first heard the ‘I want to speak to a manager’ definition of Karen, I cringed. Yes, I have been known to send back wine when it had begun to effervesce, or a meal when it wasn’t cooked properly. I have asked to speak with a supervisor when I’m dealing with customer service that wasn’t helpful. And you know who I learned that from? My boss from my first big time job, a New Yorker super sales guy. He wouldn’t settle for less than what he’d paid for. In short, a white man.
So when I first started hearing about ‘Karens’, I was irritated that women were again being accused of essentially being bitchy when they were being assertive. It felt like we were being penned in yet again for basically asking for what we want. Maybe middle-aged women wouldn’t be so Karenesque if the world and the media didn’t keep trying to disappear us.
Don’t get me wrong - when I read about the white woman who tried to call the cops on the little black girls who were selling water, in their own yard, but without a permit, I was aghast. My children sold lemonade on our street, no permit required. I was stunned when Amy Cooper threatened to call the police to tell them that she was being threatened by an African American male. I mean, what was she thinking? I am not making light of this - if you are a follower of Perfect Avocado Retreats, then you know we are taking our antiracist education very seriously. I’m glad that we live in the time of the cell phone camera so that this behavior can be - and is being - documented so that we cannot operate under the guise that we didn’t know it was going on.
I see this as a threefold problem - white privilege + racism + anti feminism = Karen.
These women are using their white privilege recklessly, out of misguided fear and ignorance and outright racism. But not every woman who ever asked for the manager is a racist, right?
Racism exists here in the U.S. so much more than white people really knew. We have been so immune and shielded by our white privilege, we have been shockingly ignorant.
And lastly, the patriarchy is still trying to shut women up. Doubt me? Go watch Equal Means Equal. Or even more frighteningly, read this article from the Atlantic How Anti-feminism is the Gateway to the Far Right.
So, instead of disappearing women, let’s disappear white privilege, racism and anti-feminists. And by disappear, I mean educate ourselves on all three; get out of our silos and be brave enough to talk compassionately about hard things; and smash the f**king patriarchy. And by smash, I mean vote.
In conclusion, we acknowledge that women get angry, and that can be scary. But we’re not shutting up. And we’re not changing the name of our ideal customer. And Karen still likes her name and is unapologetic about it. We want to reclaim Karen! To paraphrase U2 from their song Helter Skelter “This is a name white racists stole from Karen Walrond. We're stealing it back”.