Main content

The Karen Meme

Drag artist Vanity Von Glow, poet Iona Lee, relationship educator Esther De La Ford and actor Karen Bartke discuss the 'Karen' meme.

Tricky is the place to discuss difficult questions away from the bear pit of social media.

Drag artist Vanity Von Glow, poet Iona Lee, relationship & sex educator, Esther De La Ford and actor Karen Bartke discuss the 'Karen' meme.

Karen is a slang term for an obnoxious, angry, entitled, and often racist middle-aged white woman, who uses her privilege to get her way or police other people's behaviours. It’s similar to the male term 'Gammon' in that they both refer to furious opinionated white people. ‘Karen’ began as shorthand in the US's black community but was popularised right across all sorts of service industries.

For the Karen on our panel it puts her off complaining about anything, in case she's accused of ‘being such a Karen' especially because that's her name! But is it now being used simply as a means to shut women down when they express an opinion that usually a man doesn't like? Who is the arbiter of when the meme is being correctly used or is that simply the nature of these things that once they're out they take on a life of their own?

Producers: Myles Bonnar and Peter McManus
Editor: Anthony Browne
A BBC Scotland production for Radio 4

Release date:

Available now

30 minutes

Featured in...

Subscribe to Seriously...

Subscribe to Seriously...

Get new documentary podcasts every Tuesday and Friday.

Seriously... Archive

Seriously... Archive

Even more seriously interesting documentaries from Radio 4.

Seriously... Reads

Seriously... Reads

Read more about some of the amazing stories in Seriously...

Podcast