By tracing the origins of Karen up until the Central Park incident, you can see how two separate threads of meaning converged to make Karen the label for an officious, entitled, white woman.
The first comes from African American communities, where certain generic first names have long been a shorthand for “a white woman to be wary of because she won’t hesitate to wield privilege at the expense of others.” Around 2018, people started posting pictures of white women calling the police on the mundane activities of black people. These individuals got labeled with hashtags like #bbqbecky, #permitpatti, #golfcartgail and #cornerstonecaroline.
The second thread emerges from stand-up comedy and Reddit. In 2005, Dane Cook performed a sketch comedy piece in which Karen is “that friend nobody likes.” In the sketch, she’s described as “always a douche.” This portrayal of a “Karen” is less about her racism and contains more gender-based critiques, which might be why some continue to call the Karen meme sexist.
New Jersey police officer Brian Porter — who delivered two babies during the first half of 2002 — regarding his success so far in having a baby named after him:
(In the case of the second baby, the baby’s father and brother were both already named Bryan.)
“[I]njurious” names [were] intended to mark slaves out by drawing upon naming forms not used by the dominant class. For instance, some are not personal names, but refer instead to places (London, Madrid, Dublin), animals (Zebra, Fox), or qualities (Amor). Another popular category includes names of classical figures (Cicero, Ancilla, Cupido). Such names functioned as cruel jokes: for instance, Scipio, a common male slave name, referred to the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus, whose agnomen, Africanus, meant “the African,” in praise of his triumphs in battle in North Africa. Names of Greek and Roman heroes, philosophers, and orators were popular choices for male slaves, underlining their degradation and emasculation via their juxtaposition with these great men. Meanwhile, as Saidiya Hartman has noted, names like “Venus” for female slaves reflected and licensed the lasciviousness of European slave-owners toward African women, making such behaviors “sound agreeable.”
Welcome to this German tutorial on how to pronounce my name, Friedemann Findeisen. In the past, many of you have wondered why I have such an unusual name, and why it sounds so German. Well, I am German. You just can’t tell because my lederhosen aren’t in the shot.
[T]o my great surprise—the first name in recorded history isn’t a king. Nor a warrior. Or a poet. He was, it turns out…an accountant. In his new book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari goes back 33 centuries before Christ to a 5,000-year-old clay tablet found in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).
It’s a receipt for multiple shipments of barley. The tablet says, very simply:
29,086 measures barley 37 months Kushim
(But we don’t know for sure that Kushim was a human name; it may have been a job title.)
A second theory, from the same article:
Dated to around 3100 B.C.—about a generation or two after Kushim—the tablet’s heading is, “Two slaves held by Gal-Sal.” Gal-Sal is the owner. Next come the slaves, “En-pap X and Sukkalgir.” So now we’ve got four names: an accountant, a slave owner, and two slaves.
(Some scholars are Team Kushim, other scholars are Team Gal-Sal.)
A few years ago, we held a fun 1980s name-song tournament. (Come on, Eileen, you must remember!) This year, let’s go back even further — let’s check out songs with names in the titles from the early rock and roll era (late ’50s and early ’60s).
I’ll explain more about the tournament at the bottom of the post. For now, I’ll just forewarn you that each link opens a video in a new page so that you don’t lose your place on this page, which is pretty long.
"Wake Up Little Susie" by The Everly Brothers (57%, 4 Votes)
"Sally, Go 'Round the Roses" by The Jaynetts (43%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 7
Which song is better? (30 of 32)
"Susie Q" by Dale Hawkins (71%, 5 Votes)
"Sherry" by The Four Seasons (29%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 7
Which song is better? (31 of 32)
"Runaround Sue" by Dion (67%, 4 Votes)
"Venus in Blue Jeans" by Jimmy Clanton (33%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
Which song is better? (32 of 32)
"Sheila" by Tommy Roe (67%, 4 Votes)
"Susie Darlin'" by Robin Luke (33%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 6
…And that’s it for now! Round 2 will start on Friday.
Here’s the full tournament schedule:
Round 1 (64 songs to 32): Vote March 12-15
Round 2 (32 to 16): Vote March 16-19
Sweet 16 (16 to 8): Vote March 20-22
Elite Eight (8 to 4): Vote March 23-25
Final Four (4 to 2): Vote March 26-27
Championship (2 to 1): Vote March 28-29
Winner (1): Announced on March 30
Polls close at 11:59 PM (Mountain Time) on the last day of each round.
And finally, in case you’re wondering how I chose the groups and the pairings: The groups are alphabetical (A to F, G to L, L to P, and R to W). To rank the songs within each group, I used that “total” number of Google search results as a proxy for popularity. Then I created match-ups in true March Madness style: first vs. last, second vs. second-to-last, and so forth.
On the hunt for a rare girl name with a retro feel?
Here’s a big batch of uncommon female S-names that are associated in some way with early cinema (i.e., each is either a character name or an actress name).
For those that have had enough usage to appear in the national data, I’ve included links to popularity graphs.
Saba Saba Raleigh was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1867. Her birth name was Isabel Pauline Ellissen. Saba was also a character played by actress Myrta Bonillas in the film The Claw (1927).
Sabra Sabra de Shon was an actress who appeared in one film in 1915. She was born in Massachusetts in 1850. Sabra was also a character name in multiple films, including Cimarron (1931) and A Man Betrayed (1941).
Salomy Salomy was a character name in multiple films, including Salomy Jane (1914) and Wild Girl (1932).
Salti Salti was a character played by actress Beatie Olna Travers in the film A Romance of Old Baghdad (1922).
Samanthy Samanthy was a character name in multiple films, including The Uneven Balance (short, 1914) and The Lonesome Heart (1915).
Samaran Samaran was a character played by actress Julia Faye in the film Fool’s Paradise (1921).
Sanchia Sanchia Percival was a character played by actress Dorinea Shirley in the film Open Country (1922).
Sari Sari Maritza (SHA-ree MAR-ee-tsa) was an actress who appeared in films in the 1930s. She was born in China in 1910. Her birth name was Patricia Detering-Nathan. Sari was also a character name in multiple films, including The Virgin of Stamboul (1920) and The Stolen Bride (1927).
Sigrid Sigrid Holmquist was an actress who appeared in films in the 1920s. She was born in Sweden in 1899. Sigrid was also a character name in multiple films, including Transatlantic (1931) and I Remember Mama (1948).