Critics hit out at 'regressive and sexist' Karen insult

The name Karen has risen through the internet to become an insult for a middle-aged,  self-entitled white woman but some people are arguing it's becoming an ageist and sexist slur.

Multiple 'Karens' have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movements but not everyone is convinced it's just a harmless meme.

Telegraph journalist Karen Yossman likened the term to 'blonde jokes' on The Project on Friday.

"In the same way that blonde jokes used to be very popular and are now seen, quite rightly, as regressive and sexist," she said.

"I do think this is just another opportunity to knock women."

Where did it come from? 

According to Vox, one of the first mentions of the negative connotations of Karen was in a 2005 Dane Cook comedy sketch called "the friend that nobody likes".

"Every group has a Karen and she is always a bag of douche," said Cook. 

However the better known rise of Karen comes from social media site Reddit. One user became well-known for posting bitter anecdotes about his ex-wife - these posts became so well known they inspired a subreddit called r/F**kYouKaren.

It now has more than 648,000 subscribers. 

Why Karen?

Names as insults is not a new concept - think back to Scrooge from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol becoming synonymous with a person who is stingy with money. Or even further back Judas - the apostle who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver which has come to mean a traitor or deceitful person.

But Karen never did anything truly awful - so why the sudden surge? 

First of all, Karens are often recognisable for their white privilege and Karen is a generic white-person name. 

The stereotype of a Karen is someone middle-aged and according to, the name peaked in popularity around 1956 - meaning the majority of real life Karens are between 40 and 65 years old - it's a stereotypically middle-aged name -  a gendered version of the "OK Boomer" meme which has also sky-rocketed to popularity. 

Watch the full video on the Karen insult above.