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In reply to the discussion: Don't Call Her 'Karen' [View all]


(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.
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