Next in meme-able white women news: the “anti-Karen”.
Evoking women of similar age and class to 2020’s infamous meme, “Carol” is middle-age, middle-class and white. But these brooch-loving ladies don’t whine to the manager, like their receptionist-haircut, entitlement-fuelled sisters. Nor do they call the police immediately after seeing people of colour.
Unlike her often-racist cousin, “Carol” is a supposedly wholesome, white woman who leads with her heart over everything else. As the opposite to the complaint-loving, rap-hating “Karens”, she’s open-minded and fun-loving. Think: a kind-hearted lady thanking the neighbourhood for throwing a party over the weekend and clearing up afterwards. A BLM-supporting grandma. Or YouTube’s grime gran.
While “Karen” took over from “BBQ Becky” and “Permit Patty” as last year’s extremely fitting-pejorative for victimhood-weaponising boomer-whites, “Carol” quietly passed into view, via a healthy-enough post on TikTok.
The post, from 28th of November, 2020, reads: “This is Carol who lives just [sic] cross the pizza bar I work in. Today it was 41 degrees in Sydney & I saw her sprinkling water on everyone passing by.” Cue: a pale lady calmly misting passersby’s faces, cooling them from oppressive warmth.
Since then, the arsehole-eshewing image of white women of a certain age has bred into a meme on Reddit. Conceived in July 2021, /r/CarolNotKaren encourages posters to “appreciate ‘Carols,’ not ‘Karens’”. In one recent post, a grandmother rolls through in a Fast and Furious truck, decked out in pearlescent multi-chrome paint. In another, a would-be-“Karen” gleefully raps Kodak Black’s “Roll In Peace” from among the crowd at Miami rap festival Rolling Loud.
Behind the slowly-accelerating subreddit is 23 year-old Eli Kersed, who tells VICE the sub is a place to show “videos of people being happy for others, instead of causing a scene or issues, like a ‘Karen’ would”.
Given its “Carol”-boasting content, /R/CarolNotKaren was naturally inspired by a clip featuring a “Carol”.
In the inspo-video, a white woman steamrolls toward an open-roofed car full of Black men, then aggressively places her hands on the bonnet and says “What are you guys doing? Where are you from?”.
In a Karen-starring clip, this would be the red-flag intro to a prejudice-fed moment. Here, when the men respond they’re shooting a music video, “Carol” asks excitedly “Can I be in it?”, to which everyone cheers.
Another Carol-featuring post, from Twitter, references the recent news that Texas State Senator Carol Alvarado spoke for 15 hours to filibuster a controversial bill said to suppress voters of colour and disabled voters. In response, a user says: “In a world of Karens, be a Carol.”
For some, the simple role-reversal of racism-tuned clips holds weight. In the comments of the post that inspired /R/CarolNotKaren, one of the top statements reads: “My mom has been fucking terrified that the Karen thing was going to spill over to Carols. She’s such a sweet old lady – total anti-boomer who went to support BLM marches last summer.”
Of course, when viewed in a vacuum, these clips achieve their intention of showing another, Karen-free side to middle-class white-women. But, considering “Karen” originated from Black people’s long tradition of using humour to cope with white privilege, is an anti-Karen really necessary?
Kersed, however, has more innocent thoughts. “I believe /r/CarolNotKaren is important because it shows off the positives in society, and how much love there is when we don’t showcase or feed attention to hateful people.”