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Local 'Karens' find internet meme good for a laugh and all say Karens are wonderful people

PMG PHOTO: TERESA CARSON - Karen Johnston, who is involved in the community in addition to being a business owner, gives input at a meeting of the Mt. Hood Community College Board of Education.

Some of East Multnomah County's Karens aren't acting like, well, Karens.

The name "Karen" has developed into a common meme on social media and is generally applied to ill-tempered, entitled white women who are prone to demanding to see the manager if things don't go exactly their way.

A quick check of some local Karens finds them quite the opposite of the Karen meme and taking their newfound "fame" with a huge dollop of good humor and perspective.

"Oh, my kids have ribbed me a lot. They send me all the memes," said Karen Johnston amid peals of hearty laughter.

"(The meme Karen) is not a very nice person," said Johnston, who co-owns All About Automotive in Gresham.

"Whenever I'm being cranky, I think, 'well, am I being a Karen?'" Johnston said.

Karen Archuleta, who works at Glenn Otto Community Park in Troutdale, laughed and said, "I'm not one of those Karens. I stay home and make jam."

She rattled off the yummy freezer jam she's made recently: strawberry, raspberry and blueberry.

"I've changed my name to Suzie Homemaker until this goes away," Archuleta said.

"No, I'm not mad about it," she chuckled.

The name Karen is of Scandinavian origin and means "pure," according to BabyNames.com. Although it was a popular moniker in the 1950s and '60s, it now ranks as the 635th most popular female name for babies. Karen peaked as the third most popular girls name in 1965.

There is no consensus on exactly how the meme got started, but it has spread to the point that it's even being used as a verb, as in "Don't you Karen here, lady."

The Karen meme is sort of equivalent to the recent "OK boomer" memes. But, lately the term Karen has taken on a more pejorative tinge as it has become used more widely.

Some contend that the Karen meme demeans women and has become sexist, ageist and classist slam.

Karen Johnson, marketing director for Troutdale's Apollo Drain & Rooter Service, also chortled when asked about the meme-ification.

"Most Karens are very nice people," said Johnson.

She said she's surprised she's never been teased about it. She said it's kind of a regular name with no easy nicknames or diminutives.

"I've never met a snotty Karen," Johnson said, defending her people.

Karen Schaaf, a residential and commercial realtor with Gresham's RE/MAX Equity Group, said she'd never heard of the meme.

"I didn't even know what it was until you just told me," she said.

"All the Karens I've ever known are nice. So, no, I can't comment. It's the best name in the world."


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