Sometimes, what we really need is a manager.
I’m pretty easy going. I only rock the boat when I really feel I need to. Recently, I’ve had to.
I’ve been battling a company that has cost me about $10k. It’s not pretty. I tried being nice. I tried being patient. That was getting me nowhere. I had three calls and four emails over the span of a few weeks completely ignored.
I don’t care who you are and what gender you identify with, when you’re sitting on a $10k home repair bill and no one will talk to you, you need a manager. I was at my wits’ end.
A friend of mine made a suggestion. Contact them on social media. Comment about the horrible service on Facebook. Write a sensible but exceptionally honest Yelp review. That will get their attention. So I did it. Then, as soon as I read my own Yelp review, I panicked. Holy crap. Am I Karen? I’m Karen. I don’t want to be Karen.
The Karen Meme scares me for one big reason: are we vilifying the complaining white woman to the point of silencing them and relegating them back to being seen and not heard? Are less women going to stand up for themselves out of fear of being called Karen?
I don’t do well with being seen and not heard. At the same time, I am careful with what I choose to complain about. I’m polite and level headed. I don’t take my anger out on people.
But, as women, we have this pesky little thing inside our heads that makes us question even the most reasonable action. It’s called shame. It’s the same feeling we get when we send our kid to school with a shoebox decorated with coupon ads on Valentine’s Day because we forgot to go get construction paper.
We have been raised that girls should be polite. Now, we have a whole group of women who are being shamed back into silence. If you go out to eat and get overcharged for your meal, you have every right to say something and have the issue rectified. I don’t think I’m alone in fearing that the waiter who just took my bill to the back of the restaurant is mumbling under his mask and just called me Karen. Karen has become that pervasive.
I think most of us understand that the difference between Karen and the rest of us is how we handle the situation and tone in which we speak to someone. The problem is that not everyone else shares that understanding.
Mocking Karen has become such a prolific pastime that we sprinkle that on everything. Karen is slowly evolving from a pain in the ass privileged woman to any woman that even remotely stands up for herself. Expecting your bill to be rectified by a restaurant is not privilege. It’s expecting commonly understood levels of service.
Recently, a middle-aged, white woman in a North Phoenix Shell service station not too far from my house got her face slapped by a Native American woman after throwing endless racist comments at her. She had it coming. Every headline and Twitter comment called her “Phoenix Karen.” We’re misplacing the shame. Her crime isn’t being a middle-aged, white woman. It’s being a racist. What the headlines should have called her is “Phoenix racist.”
What’s even more concerning is there seems to be no male equivalent to Karen. Here’s the clear message that sends me: If my boyfriend and I go out to eat and were overcharged by $30, it would be less frowned upon for him to ask for the bill to be adjusted than me. So, we’re back to men having to speak for women because us doing so begets mockery.
What I would like is for us to be a little less liberal with the demonizing of Karen. Not everyone woman who stands up for herself is deserving of a meme thrown at her. Call out public acts of assholery, by all means. But name it as it should be named.
We have the right to complain. We have the right to ask to speak to a manager. Using shame to silence women only takes us steps back from where we have been trying to go.