Is the “Karen” stereotype just a way to disparage menopausal women? Before I dig into this – probably controversial – question, let me share what prompted it.
Four years ago, my husband and I were searching for a place to live in Tasmania. We knew we would be challenged to find a place that was right for us, since we wanted to live somewhere that was quiet and inspired creativity. When we reached out to the homeowner of an Airbnb in 2019, asking if he’d be open to renting to us long term, we were pleasantly surprised when he agreed. Our landlord is probably one of the best I’ve ever dealt with in my adult years.
But finding the right spot wasn’t easy, and we had to get creative to find it, especially since rentals are few and far between anywhere in Tasmania. We’re still here for the peace and quiet and, since I’ve written four books in that time, I’d say it was the right move.
Now there is a house that’s being built on the vacant lot next door. The lot was for sale for our first two years then BOOM – the pandemic hit – and suddenly there were three bids on the lot. I’ll be blunt: it’s the last lot I’d ever imagine a house to be built on.
In the middle of the lot there is a massive drop, and we’ve watched the hillside avalanche under heavy rains. We’ve watched rabbits dash into warrens on that same hillside. When the surveyors came out two days ago, their vehicle got bogged in the mud – and it hasn’t here rained in weeks– and it’s not the first time that’s happened either.
So you can imagine my anxiety at this new build. Not only does the peace and quiet vanish, but so does the gorgeous tree I stare upon when I’m trying to find a word that’s suddenly vanished while I’m writing. The new house will completely block that view. Instead, I’ll have a bright shiny new house. Hope the neighbours are okay with a long vacant stares from a writer next door.
Also over that time, menopause has settled in. With this new build, and numerous people coming and going, I’m finding myself taking deep breaths to remain calm. As the workers fumble around the lot, shaking their heads at the challenge ahead, having conversations ten feet from my office window, I desperately want them to move the fuck away. Go talk football somewhere else. Go talk about your challenges elsewhere on the lot, somewhere where I don’t have to hear it. The conversation I want to have – about how stupid they are to build there in the first place – will stay inside my raging head (well, except for my rage here, of course).
So now… do I sound like a Karen?
I know I do. I know that if I expressed this to my daughter’s friends, that’s exactly what they’d think. Okay, maybe not HER friends, because most of them like me, and have adopted me as their pseudo mother, but her generation (Gen Z) sure would.
Yet, to me, this is raging hormones talking – aka menopause.
Am I disappointed that there’s a house going up next door? Of course I am! But I’ve known it was coming for over two years. We could have moved in that time. We could have found another spot with peace and quiet. I know that the build is short term in the overall scheme of things. I’m sure the new neighbours are moving here because they want peace and quiet too. The logical side of me understands that, and I believe, just as Muriel’s family (from Muriel’s Wedding) liked to say, You can’t stop progress.
So that brings me back to my question: Is the “Karen” stereotype just a way to disparage menopausal women?
Are people accusing women of being stark-raving bitches simply a misunderstanding? Is it a quick judgement without thought to what ‘women of a certain age’ are dealing with?
I mean, this is like being a rollercoaster from hell. A ride we cannot disembark. Or change. Or navigate all that well.
Not only are we dealing with our bodies changing, losing not only our waistlines but also adding on the kilos, but many women are also losing their self-esteem.
We’re dealing with hot flashes that make us want to strip naked in public if we could, our faces flushing so red that some hesitate to be in social situations.
Doctors tell us to give up spicy foods and red wine, because those exasperate the issues – and that just pisses us off.
But when you toss in emotional rage, then it’s feels like the final straw.
Oh wait. No. There’s one more factor we have to contend with. Vaginal dryness and the fact that we have fuck-all libido. Not only as we losing interest in sex, but our husbands are looking at us like, ‘what the hell?’ (Okay, mine isn’t. He’s the geek that probably knows more about menopause symptoms than I do.)
Are we entitled to have an opinion at our age? I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, no matter what their age. But when ‘women of a certain age’ want to speak up, we’re told to sit down and shut up, as if we have no right or experience to even have an opinion. Yet, we’ve raised kids through the rapidly changing technology age. We’ve had to be more flexible than any generation between those tech changes, not to mention recessions, world conflicts and terrorism, just to name a few. And now we’re dealing with baby-boomers as parents, helping them navigate tech and gender labels.
We’re just trying to navigate life in-between. And now we’re dealing with unstable hormones.
Here’s the thing: those women who are going through menopause want the same things as the younger generations – flexible jobs. Climate change. Politicians who aren’t narcissistic misogynists. Etc…
So why are the younger generations bashing us down? Isn’t equality also something we both believe in? If that’s the case, where is the equality in sisterhood?
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Tabitha Turner