Having your name turned into an insult isn’t something that is very pleasant, but there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. Early on, I decided that getting upset about it was really not gonna help. So, I decided to embrace it. It is always good to learn to laugh at yourself, so I’ve had a bit of fun with it.
The real trick of stereotypes is they’re based on grains of truth. Let’s start with the name. Well, obviously that fits. (There was a girl in my grade with the same first, middle and three letters off our last names. Super popular name at the time. Sigh). What about the other aspects? Female? Check. Middle aged? Check. Grew up in the burbs, in a predominantly white, protestant upper middle class neigbourhood.? Check. (Uh oh…). Entitlement? Weeelll, maybe a bit. Intolerant views? NO! (whew😎!). But… the similarities are more than surface. I completely understand what’s behind those rants, and I feel the same the urge to rant. I rant in my head all the time, and have even let it out once or twice. (Of course, I like to think that my rants were justified, but I’m sure those we deride as “Karens” also felt they were in the right.).
Behind the rant
Women of my generation and cultural background were past the age where that children were to be ‘seen and not heard’; girls were encouraged to speak, and to give our opinions. Shows like “Kids say the Darndest Things” were en vogue, so being ‘quick with your words’ received high praise. What we were NOT allowed to do as girls was to express anger, negativity, or aggression. We replaced being seen and not heard with “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”. As long as you were ‘nice’, everything was good. We were supposed to put our needs second; anger wasn’t okay. Since you can’t really just get rid of anger, we learned to let it out as tears. To this day when I’m angry, I cry, which I loathe. I have a full blast rant running in my head, but it very, very rarely makes it out through the tears.
In Grade 7 I hit another girl (the only time- so not me!). I am so utterly non-confrontational (to a fault), and this was NOT something that girls did. She’d been pushing my buttons, as grade 7 girls at the time were wont to do (my daughter is in grade 7 now, and I am pleased to say that 12 year old girls are much nicer now🥰). When I was in school, being nasty was fine, as long as it was said with a smile. Ugly behaviour, but while I wasn’t one of the ‘popular’ kids, I was rarely bullied. Well, that day, Tracey was bullying me. I don’t remember how it started, but eventually she taunted me into hitting her, so I did. She was so stunned that she took ages to respond, I was so stunned that I instantly burst into tears. The adults decided immediately that it had to have been Tracey’s fault (our reputations said that there’s no way I would have hit her unless she deserved it. She really didn’t, but on the other hand, she never teased me again, and we became friendly in highschool, so it all turned out). As a result, I got the nickname of CBC- Cry Baby Clubs. (For my American friends- CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).
When you look at the socio-cultural aspects of women my age, it’s easy to see where those rants hide. As we are nearing our 50’s, the social pressure of acceptance is relieved. I care much less about what people think of me now than I did 30 years ago (why exactly did I care if I had the right type of track suit? It seemed SO important at the time), and so we are letting it out. And oh boy, when we do, it can come out sideways!😡😵🤬 Full-on loose our marbles, all the anger we have stuffed down exploding in a magnificent geyser of all of those witty words we’ve been holding in. (Which are nowhere near as witty when heard aloud, as if we’d admit it😏).
I need to rant more.
So, in the interest of relieving pressure, last year I started playing on YouTube, making occasional ‘Karen Rants’ in the comments of Karen Rant videos (and a few others), always trying to be reasonable, a bit funny and socially minded. I try to use Rick Mercer as my guide. Of course, I can’t possibly hit his level of humour, but he’s usually thoughtful and thought provoking, and his rants aren’t nasty. Someone complemented me that I was ‘THE Karen’, which cracked me up. So, I’m upping my braveness factor, and make some of my rants so that my friends can read them. Like most Karen rants, they really aren’t about being read (or heard), they’re more about venting. I’m horrible at expressing negative emotions, especially anger. Writing is much easier, but also more permanent. (Well, maybe in the days of cameras everywhere, writing is a wiser idea- at least I can correct things before I actually hit ‘post’…).
Maybe even rave a bit.
Because I can’t help wanting to be positive sometimes, I may add some ‘Karen Raves’. The world is a bit scary right now, from politics (especially our southern neighbours) to pandemics (Omicron variant now? Great.), to a climate crisis which is particularly acute in BC right now. (We have had devastating floods, and are cut off from the rest of Canada, and it will take many months to rebuild the infrastructure). So I need to celebrate the positive things in both my life, and in the world out there. For example? The Canadian Parliament unanimously passing a ban on conversion therapy this week- a total 180 for the Conservatives. See what happens when you look at the people involved, put politics and religion aside? The decision becomes so easy! (Ahem, perhaps even the raves won’t be without a bit of acid…😏).