Well, we can file this latest baby name conundrum under #2020problems for sure: A dad took to Reddit’s “Am I the asshole?” (AITA) forum to ask readers whether he is indeed an asshole for refusing to let his wife name their baby after her dearly departed mother. Now, that would seem like an asshole move any other year, and with any other name, but we’re willing to give the guy a pass seeing as the quagmire in question is whether to give a baby girl born in the year 2020 the name Karen.
Yikes. Talk about a moral dilemma of our times.
“My wife and I recently found out we’re having a daughter,” the OP writes on Reddit. “We hadn’t really talked about names before but we both agreed that each of us will retain veto power. When we did start discussing names, both of us wanted to name her after our late mothers. Her mom’s name was Karen and my mom’s name wasn’t a meme.”
Okay, honestly we’re already loling right there because he has a point.
“I told her the baby can take my mom’s name as her first name and her mom’s name as a middle name, or have an entirely different name, but I can’t okay ‘Karen’ as a first name in any case. She got offended because she just wants to honor her mother and thinks I have a problem with that. I just don’t want to set our daughter up to be bullied throughout her life. I told her I’d be fine with whatever first name she picks as long as it doesn’t lead to the baby being picked on later in life, but she’s pretty insistent on Karen.”
While the OP doesn’t mention his soon-to-be daughter’s race, we’re not sure that even makes a difference. Although a white girl named Karen might receive more frequent “uh oh, is Karen going to call the manager on me??” taunts, a Karen of color certainly wouldn’t be immune, and might feel even worse about being bullied for a name that has become a symbol of racism. Eesh. There really is no getting out of this one, as many Redditors have pointed out.
“It was a normal name, now it’s a joke… People are gonna make jokes all her life,” writes one commenter.
“Stick to your guns and don’t name her Karen,” urges another. “People intentionally naming their kids something they know will cause bullying and antagonism is borderline child abuse.”
We recently spoke with BabyNames.com cofounder Jennifer Moss about Karen’s plummet in popularity as a name, thanks to memes about entitled white women named Karen — and the early 2020 incident of ultimate “Karen” Amy Cooper calling the cops on a bird-watching Black man in Central Park.
“In the past six months, we’ve had zero people adding it to their favorite name list [on BabyaNames],” Moss told SheKnows. “It goes to show that there’s definitely a stigma attached to the name. We had people adding it up until about I’d say six to seven months ago.”
But, Moss added, that doesn’t mean Karen won’t see a comeback — in another generation or so. “We tend to be rebels against the previous generation,” she said. “We always think [they’re] uncool and that our own generation is cool, so it’s OK to use names from two or three generations ago, but not from our parents’ generation.”
Interestingly, it’s not just because of the name’s now-racist undertones that folks think the OP should avoid naming his baby Karen. Even the “Karens” themselves are in agreement: One salty commenter wrote that “considering it’s been turned into a sexist insult to shut women up I doubt it will go away any time soon.” Whether she, too, was called a Karen (for racist actions or otherwise) remains to be seen.
This was a rare AITA case in which the vast majority of Redditors were in agreement not only on the problem, but on the solution: Make Karen the kid’s middle name. Pay tribute to Grandma, but keep potential bullying at bay.
Maybe these parents will choose one of these weird and wonderful celeb baby names for their little one instead.