A look back at our worst and weirdest ‘Karens’ this year

Keeping up with the ‘Karens’ can be hard to do.

There is racist ‘Karen’, entitled Karen, Karen who complains about the ‘Karen’ phenomenon and take-it-in-her-stride Karen.

Along with the pandemic and long lockdowns around the world, 2020 handed us an array of different so-called ‘Karens’.

So much so that on Tuesday, Macquarie Dictionary announced ‘Karen’ (along with covidiot) had been chosen as people’s choice for word of the year.

“Colloquial and contentious, it was used as a neat descriptor of this particular type of woman, its popularity being kicked along by viral social media videos,” the company said.

The term is certainly contentious, with many real-life Karens justifiably finding the term offensive, and some feminists arguing it’s sexist, as there is no male equivalent.

But love it or hate it, the term ‘Karen’ stormed into the world’s cultural consciousness this year.

Here were some of the best, the worst and the weirdest ‘Karens’ of 2020.

Bunnings ‘Karen’

One woman caught the ire of Victorians, including Premier Daniel Andrews, when she refused to wear a mask into Bunnings in July during the state’s lockdown.

Lizzy Rose, a psychic and anti-mask agitator, filmed her encounter with staff who politely asked her to wear a mask.

In the video, Ms Rose said: “It’s my right as a living woman to do what I want,” before threatening to sue Bunnings “for being in breach” of the 1948 Charter of Human Rights.

“You’re discriminating against me,” she said.

At the time Mr Andrews condemned Ms Rose and her small band of supporters as “conspiracy theorists”.

“Their behaviour is appalling. Their views have no basis in science or fact or law. Don’t focus on them,” he said.

Central Park ‘Karen’

Amy Cooper went viral for all the wrong reasons after she called the New York City Police earlier this year falsely claiming a black man, who was just bird watching in the park, threatened her.

“I’m taking a picture and calling the cops,” Ms Cooper is heard saying in the video.

“I’m going to tell them there’s an African-American man threatening my life.”

Ms Cooper lost her job and is now facing criminal charges for filing a false report.

Brighton ‘Karen’

Every single person in Melbourne was sick of being stuck inside, but the majority of them just got on with the task of managing the strange mix of boredom and anxiety.

Except for Karen from Brighton.

Jodi Grollo rose to infamy after she was filmed on the news complaining she had “walked all of Brighton” – an affluent coastal suburb of Melbourne – during the lockdown.

Ms Grollo embraced her new-found Karen fame and now has an Instagram dedicated to her endeavours, which has consisted largely of complaining about lockdown and Mr Andrews.

She has since moved to the Sunshine Coast.

‘Karen’ with the gun

In June, one American Karen and her ‘Ken’ husband were introduced to the world after the pair pulled guns on Black Lives Matter protesters walking past their house.

The couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who are both personal injury lawyers in their 60s, drew a pistol and assault rifle on protesters en route to the mayor’s house to demand her resignation.

The pair were later charged with unlawful use of weapons after confronting the protesters outside their mansion.

Skincare ‘Karen’

The world didn’t need another cop-calling Karen, but it got one.

Lisa Alexander was branded a ‘Karen’ after a video circulated in July showing her accusing James Juanillo, who is Filipino, of illegally chalking ‘Black Lives Matter’ onto a wall on his San Francisco property.

Ms Alexander claimed she knew who lived there before calling the police on Mr Juanillo.

Ms Alexander’s company, LaFace Skincare, has taken its website offline and she issued a public apology.

“I want to apologise directly to Mr Juanillo,” she wrote in a letter to CBS news.

“There are not enough words to describe how truly sorry I am for being disrespectful to him last Tuesday when I made the decision to question him about what he was doing in front of his home.”


Of course, not all Karens are bad. It’s just unfortunate the common name was the one chosen to describe just a poor few.

There’s definitely some gems out there.

Like hospital worker Karen Coon, who lost 15 loved ones between February and July this year.

She urged the Karens of Australia to rise above the negative connotations the name had gathered, and prove the doubters wrong.

Named after her dad’s aunt, who died two days before she was born, Ms Coon is just one of our nation’s many good ‘Karens’ on the front line of the coronavirus fight – quite the opposite to the women filming themselves deliberately defying health advice.

Like most of us, she was affected in her personal life by the pandemic restrictions, such as being unable to attend funerals of friends and relatives who have died.

Yet Ms Coon said her experience was nothing compared to what others have suddenly lost.

“The poor families of the people in the nursing homes that have died, I worry about them more than someone using the name Karen,” Ms Coon said.

Topics: Australia
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