I Can’t Silence Karen
By Whitney Kippes
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]here’s an interesting space in my brain that doesn’t understand feminism. It’s hidden. Deep down somewhere.
It’s that stupid voice in the back of my head that fuels and the horrible things I can say to myself. It’s the voice that says that I’m not good enough, smart enough, powerful enough. It says that I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going and I should just quit.
That voice is dumb.
Cognitively, I understand that the voice in my brain (let’s call her Karen) doesn’t actually hold any power over me. I can ignore Karen. I can pretend she doesn’t exist.
But that doesn’t mean she’s going away.
No matter how many times I try to retrain Karen, she’s still there.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
I cancel subscriptions to so-called women’s magazines. I stop watching YouTube channels featuring shallow pursuit of perfection.
Yet Karen just won’t shut up.
I’ve tried teaching her about feminism from academic perspectives, drowning her out in the voices of Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Gloria Steinem. I absorb every word and feeling, trying to internalize their messages of hope in the face of an overwhelming patriarchy.
No dice with Karen.
I surround myself with the amazing voices of women shouting at the top of their lungs that we are powerful and can affect change. I seek friendships with feminists who can help me improve and expand my perspectives. I eliminate relationships that break me down in favor of those who build me up.
But Karen still hangs around.[divider type="short" spacing="10"]
[dropcap background="no" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]here’s something to be said for that force that just continues to linger and voice all those little things that we work so hard to avoid. I know that I’m not the only one with a Karen, yet that doesn’t make her voice any quieter. It doesn’t make it easier not to listen to her. It doesn’t make her any less distracting in a business meeting, or in a bar with friends, or even in the bedroom. She just doesn’t go away.
I think things might be easier if she did just disappear, but I think that working against her is a struggle worth having. It’s one of the biggest fights I’ve ever had, and most days I’m winning. But the reminder that Karen is there is what keeps me fighting other fights.
She’s what reminds me that no matter “how far we’ve come” there is still a lot more work to do.
She’s what drives me to do the best work that I can, just to prove her wrong.
She’s what makes me want to give my nieces and nephew the words to fight against their own Karens.
I know it’s a fight worth having, so I’ll keep working to silence Karen.