TV presenter and journalist Karen Ledbury wants to remind us of the positive qualities that many Karens do possess, and implores other Karens to make a stand against the cruel stereotype and reclaim the innately good meaning of their name.
The events of the past couple of weeks have me pondering: what’s in a name? Are all Susans lazy? Has Scotty really got no mates? Does anyone actually know a Betty from Blacktown? And am I an obnoxious and insufferable middle-aged soccer mum?
I remember when I was a little girl, my mum would often remind me why she chose my name. In her nurturing voice, she’d explain that Karen was originally from the Danish for Katherine, meaning pure and sweet. “A good girl just like you, my darling,” she’d say.
Fast forward to 2020 and according to the ever-popular and expanding website Urban Dictionary, “Karens” around the world are being branded as entitled, short-tempered complainers.
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In fact, Urban Dictionary offers a plethora of unflattering descriptions, my personal favourite being: “She drives the kids to school in an oversized SUV in an aggressive, horn-tooting manner and revels in making the life of the retail worker a living hell.”
It would seem it’s not our year, what with the world waging a war against us. Not so for me, and I’m sure many more of the other decent, selfless and health-conscious Karens of Australia.
In the wake of the “Bunnings Karen” furore, I have received an avalanche of love and support. Social-media posts, text messages and phone calls from friends, family, colleagues and even complete strangers. With my name becoming part of public vernacular, these people have reached out to reassure me that not all Karens were created equal. Her real name was Kerry by the way and, for the record, any real Karen in the Bunnings store that day would probably have called out the appalling, irresponsible stunt.
I’m thrilled to report that so many people are ready to rise up and stand beside their beloved Karens in solidarity. But all this ridiculousness has got me thinking: maybe I really could be a “Karen”.
Yes, I was the soccer mum to my three boys, one of the many who cut oranges for half-time, and screamed and hollered from the sidelines in sub-zero temperatures, despite the fact that all three of my boys were more interested in their shiny new boots or their shadows than the ball.
I too drove an oversized SUV for the school shuttle. Not only to take my kids, but also to carpool for the many other beautiful mums so they might get the occasional break and some much-needed me-time. (Let’s just not mention those few stressful mornings on the road!)
And when it comes to retail workers, I revel in celebrating, tipping and complimenting good service and a friendly smile.
So, to all the Karens who bake cupcakes for their co-workers or patiently allow fellow drivers to merge, please stand up and take a bow. We are truly great!
And to all the Karen supporters out there, look out for me in the supermarket aisle… I’ll be the one wearing the mask.
Karen Ledbury appears on The Morning Show with Kylie Gillies and Larry Emdur, weekdays from 9am on Seven and 7plus.