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(3,818 posts)
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 04:48 AM Aug 2023

Don't Call Her 'Karen'

Don’t Call Her ‘Karen’
July 27, 2023
By Pamela Paul
Opinion Columnist


Sarah Comrie is a 34-year-old physician assistant from San Diego. After getting a master’s degree from Cornell, she took a job at Bellevue, a public hospital in New York that serves many people that the city’s for-profit hospitals might decline to treat, including the uninsured, the homeless and members of the Rikers Island jail population. In 2020, she was profiled by The Times as one of the workers who risked their health to care for others during the pandemic.

Today Comrie’s life has been turned upside down. She has been doxxed and faced death threats. Bellevue placed her on leave. She had to hire a lawyer. She is widely known, as a result of a viral video in which she appeared in May, as Citi Bike Karen.


Without knowing what transpired before the footage began, it’s easy to leap to a judgment about what you’re seeing, depending on your biases. If you view the episode through the lens of sex alone, you might draw one conclusion: A pregnant woman was harassed by a group of teenage boys who wanted her bike. Viewed strictly through the lens of race, a white woman took a bike from a group of Black kids, then tried to get them in trouble.


Many who watched the video were certain of what they saw. The civil rights attorney Ben Crump, in a subsequently deleted post on Twitter, accused Comrie of attempting to steal the bike and called her behavior “unacceptable,” an example of “the type of behavior that has endangered so many Black men in the past.” The website Anti-Racism Daily accused Comrie of trying to “weaponize her tears.” The Miami Times called her “an aggressive woman.” Tariq Nasheed, a filmmaker and social media personality, called her “a suspected white supremacist.” A blog post on the website Daily Kos said she “weaponized her whiteness over a stupid bike ride.” NYC Health + Hospitals, the network that includes Bellevue, issued a statement to CBS News describing the video as “disturbing.” A local NBC News affiliate sent a camera crew to Comrie’s apartment.


But given the grave consequences she suffered, Comrie, who recently spoke to me in her first public comments since the incident, hasn’t had the luxury of moving on or forgetting. As for the young men, their identities have not been confirmed — despite my attempts to track them down and reach them — which may have spared them direct racist attacks and reprisals. But surely, they haven’t benefited from being vilified by uninformed commenters online, either.

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(3,818 posts)
1. LTTE: Re "The Impossible Bind of the Karen Label"
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 04:51 AM
Aug 2023

To the Editor:

Re “The Impossible Bind of the Karen Label,” by Pamela Paul (column, July 29), about the backlash against a pregnant white woman who argued with Black teenagers over a rental bike in a viral video:

Being called a Karen is only the latest slur used against women to shame and silence us. What started as a valid discussion about white female privilege quickly morphed into a demeaning catchall term that reinforces the time-tested trope of women as demanding, difficult and overly emotional.

These negative gender stereotypes hit a raw chord for women because they are all too familiar. History is littered with them. So insidious are these labels, researchers have coined the term “the abrasiveness trap” to describe their effects. Women’s leadership and authority are undermined by these biases, and that contributes to pay inequity and taints careers. For women of color, the intersection of race and “the abrasiveness penalty” is known as the “double bind.”

Women divert time and energy to maneuvering around these stereotypes and to dispelling the misplaced notions of competence, emotional strength and resilience.

It’s time to challenge this insidious stereotype. Let every woman named Karen have her name back. If anyone tells you to stop complaining, you’re on the right track.

Sonia Ossorio
New York
The writer is the executive director of Women’s Justice NOW.


(27,976 posts)
3. Thank you. The whole Karen meme is ageist and misogynistic.
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 06:52 AM
Aug 2023

Last edited Mon Aug 7, 2023, 07:17 PM - Edit history (1)

It's even gotten to the point where middle-aged women are criticized for their haircuts or are hassled just for wanting the same customer service everyone else gets. I recently had the "single woman dining alone" experience at a restaurant, but was afraid to complain for fear of being referred to as a 'Karen'.

People who throw this word around need to stop.

allegorical oracle

(2,451 posts)
4. +++++ Never understood precisely what the meme referred to, much less how it got
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 07:10 AM
Aug 2023

started. Seemed childish and banal to me. Now we know it's damaging and needs to end.


(9,986 posts)
7. You know where it started. An asshole male GF broke up with him, went on Reddit
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 09:30 AM
Aug 2023

Last edited Mon Aug 7, 2023, 10:43 AM - Edit history (1)

and started the whole thing dissing the GF for daring to break up with him and morphed from there. First with customer service then with racism now it is if a woman simply opens her mouth. And now I am seeing videos people purposely trying to push women for a karen video or calling them a karen when really they were the issue all along and putting it on the net


(9,986 posts)
10. Any more today I will be having conversation with women and we will go off on the 'karen'
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 09:34 AM
Aug 2023

Last edited Mon Aug 7, 2023, 10:45 AM - Edit history (1)

thing and how we are all assigned the role and now have to tip toe around because at the drop of a hat labeled Karen and do not dare to get frustrated with any kind of issue or be dismissed with Karen. I mean all kinds of women immediately into a rant. As we laugh in sisterhood at the absurdity with a fun bonding moment but knowing it is very real.


(9,986 posts)
6. I have been saying this for months. Ask to many questions about my health an labeled a Karen
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 09:27 AM
Aug 2023

Boldly discuss issues with my bank account, my money, I am a Karen. Recently I moved and put in a change of address. Per new law filled out paper and handed over ID. Two weeks later no mail and got a number to customer service. 3 calls leaving message because they do not pick up phone wasting morning before work I talk to a terrific guy that says he has it handled. Week and some later no mail and spend another morning calling three times begging for a call back leaving messages. I cant answer phone while at work. Talk to that woman fourth week and she has it handled. Fifth week spend another morning calling and she tells me go into the place, which I asked if I should do each previously call. Go into the place and talk to supervisor, provide Dr license again and she says she got it. Next week I get a call from another telling me to bring in my lease. 6th week I am bring in lease, drivers lc again, and filling out a card again. End of the 6th week I text if handled and was told yes. and that by the 7th week I should get mail we will see.

The point of the story. Very real issue. I lost bills, getting late fees, had checks from the gov coming and who knows what else and I have probably lost that mail forever. BUT... All the while I had to keep tone nice, never frustrated, accept a certain degree of incompetence, my thank you and please, present in mild manner to NOT be dismissed and to NOT be labeled a Karen.

Talking to IRS a yr ago, just getting info and too many question the woman adopted a tone as if a Karen, and I am saying, really I am fine, not mad just asking questions for information. Then she became helpful. (which of us was the Karen).

This Karen thing has just found another way to dismiss women, labeled them as emotional and dismiss what they have to say, and God forbid they actually stand up for themselves.


(27,976 posts)
5. When I googled this story, up popped an anti-Karen rebuttal.
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 07:11 AM
Aug 2023

It even had false facts in it, saying that the young man had bought and paid for the bike and it criticized the NYT editorial

No, no, and no. He had not. He was trying to scam the company by docking it and getting it again for free. It stresses me out just reading about this again. The kid is a scam artist. I would say that Ben Crump should be ashamed or himself, but he at least took down his defamatory Tweet

Response to LisaM (Reply #5)


(62,352 posts)
9. This isn't the only example of women having their lives ruined because of a false narrative.
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 09:32 AM
Aug 2023

It's very disappointing.


(19,909 posts)
12. Agree
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 09:49 AM
Aug 2023

The public has an obligation to get these situations right. And there have been people victimized by false Karen narratives. And I do feel for them.

But know that for every false Karen story, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of unjust arrests of young black men at the word of a random white person in our history. And they continue to this day. For much of our nation's history, until the age of cellphones really, all white women (or men for that matter) have had to do to have minorities hauled off to jail was to wave their hand. That power has been weilded for a long time, and now we're getting cellphone video occasionally that exposes it. So, yes, this incident is unfortunate and doesn't need to happen, but there are still people all across this country getting arrested for no real reason based on the racial dynamics of their confrontations with others.

All injustice is wrong, this woman was wronged. But, eyes wide open, this type of situation still is rare compared to the injustices regularly faced by minorities in this country.


(9,986 posts)
13. Then call them racists, bigots, vile human beings. This started with some ass on Reddit
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 10:22 AM
Aug 2023

pissed at a GF and all the guys siding with him then went to middle age women asking for management then went to racism. So now it is hitting racism we say, .... we gotta do it cause racism is so wrong. Well no shit, but in the meantime you have women everywhere having to shut up about real shit, or tone ourselves, or coddle anothers sensitivity like no one else has to do when addressing ANY issue.

Call them racist, and acknowledge not just women, plenty of men and quit using this as a sledgehammer to shut women up. just another means to dismiss women's voice.


(9,116 posts)
17. "The public has an obligation to get these situations right"
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 04:10 PM
Aug 2023

As someone who spends a lot of time with "the public", I can assure you that placing the impetus on them to "get" anything "right" is a long wait for a train that won't come.


(9,413 posts)
15. Social media will be the death of this country
Mon Aug 7, 2023, 11:00 AM
Aug 2023

I am becoming more and more convinced of this over time. It allows for too much tribalism.

What is true just doesn't matter anymore. Only narratives, only the tribal group thought of the day, week, month, etc.

And by the time the truth is known, who cares? People have already moved on to the next story, the next false information, the next gathering of signalling to show others you are part of the tribe.

People do not value true things on social media. People value belonging. And oftentimes, which is a human thing throughout history, belonging means creating, designating, and torturing those who do not belong. The creation of others. The heretics and apostates who must be punished, so people can be grateful it's someone else and not them today.

Good thing we're all so modern and evolved. Isn't it?

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