Things are different across the pond: sweaters are called jumpers, cookies are called biscuits, and Karens are called Freyas, according to this helpful polemic by The Guardian’s resident fanny champion Hadley Freeman.
In an opinion piece titled “The ‘Karen’ Meme Is Everywhere—and It has Become Mired in Sexism” Freeman explains that Karen, American slang for a white woman who calls the police anytime she sees black people having fun, is actually rooted in sexism, ageism, and classism, “in that order.” She finds evidence of this sexism in the fact that some men called her a Karen on Twitter. Freeman uses her essay to succinctly point out that any women who are joining the menfolk with such a mean joke clearly did not understand the feminist message of Gone Girl:
“When I see young (and not so young) white women defending the Karen meme, I’m reminded of the Cool Girl passage in Gone Girl: yeah, I’m not a basic pushy-mum-type woman – I’m a cool girl. Mmm, let’s see how long denigrating your own sex works for you, ladies.”
Young and not so young women, why be Cool Girls who lightly and ultimately harmlessly criticize other women when you can be Gone Girls and slash a man’s throat as he ejaculates?
Karens are generally white, middle-aged women with children, a vulnerable group in Freeman’s eyes for whom no protections currently exist either in England or America, leaving Freeman the lone defender of the forty-something-year-old white woman’s right to have children, think those children more important than other, non-white children, call the police on those children when they are swimming in swimming pools and perhaps occasionally use their platforms, in Freeman’s case a giant media outlet, to espouse trans-exclusionary radical feminist talking points, without being called completely harmless names!
And finally, in the UK, Karen is a classist slur because there are no English Karonesses inhabiting the manorhouses: “Whatever upper-middle connotations Karen might have in the US, in the UK the name is not posh. Try substituting Karen for Emily, Freya, Alice or Isabel and the meme doesn’t work,” Freeman writes.
Not to be a cool girl about this, but Freya, or even Hadley, substitute in for Karen just as seamlessly and almost imperceptibly as an “e” in the word grey. Unlike miles to kilometers or pounds to stone, tone-deaf entitlement translates pretty easily from American to English.