Dear White Women: The Patriarchy Isn’t Your Friend.

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A ‘Karen’ Halloween mask is shown in this image from Aug. 7, 2020. Jason Adcock/Instagram

Talking about ethnicity, what some people term as “race” these days is such a hot topic button. EVERYONE seems to be triggered in one way or another around the topic of ethnicities. Caucasian (white) people seem to be at the centre of most of these conversations with other POC tribes. That’s not surprising given the daily Caucasious (that’s a made up word) inappropriate behavior we see from some white men and women. Sometimes, I truly feel they go looking for trouble in certain circumstances, which I chalk up to two main triggers. They are either being triggered because they truly are racists or they are being triggered because on some level they feel attacked and are looking for a way have their voices heard. Because all of these people who engage in this behavior are not emotionally healthy, they do not know nor care about constructive ways to have discourse with people they may not agree with. For them, they would rather take the passive aggressive way out by inciting some sort of confrontation, ranging from verbal abuse to physical violence.

White women in particular are getting a bit of a bad rap right now. Understandably so when the majority of white women refuse to speak up about injustices. Why, might you ask? As I’m not a white women, I cannot answer this question from a perspective of that being my reality or truth. However, I can offer the perspective of a Black woman who has had white women around her her entire life and has been privy to observe certain behaviours in white households. White women are loyal to their ethnic tribe the way that any POC is loyal to theirs. If they feel that they are being attacked or represented in a negative light, they tend to fall in to line with their ethnic social norms. Which in and of itself is not so much the issue at hand. The problem is the ethnic tribe of “whiteness” is dominated by the falsehood of white supremacy and patriarchy. White women have been trained for years to believe on some level that they are superior to everyone except white men. It is reflected in every piece of early American, Canadian and European literature and culture. White men being industrious and hard working while white women were being dutiful by keeping them happy has been ingrained on the psyche of white women for centuries. This is nothing new. It is also something white women are very aware of. But like most of us, they would never go against their tribe as a whole. Even when that tribe is morally unsound, lacks empathy towards their own and would rather drag white women to protect the patriarchy and maintain their superiority than protect and uplift her. This is the problem with the ethnic tribe of Caucasian people.

In no way am I implying that POC do not have the same issues with patriarchy. Because we do. The difference is, the cancer that is white supremacy has been allowed to trump the patriarchy and instill an influence that no other tribe of Indigenous or POC has. Now ultimately, influence is driven by economics and this is maintained within the patriarchy. As long as both women and people of colour are making less monetarily, the white patriarchy to some degree will always have the upper hand. That is until the scales start to tip as they slowly are now. But economics seems to be the main driving force of the patriarchy. Which brings me to the topic of my article today. I recently read a news story that was reporting on a 34-year-old white American man out of Los Angeles who had created a “Karen” mask for Hallowe’en. He apparently created them as a tongue in cheek way to highlight “Karen’s”, identified as white women who terrorize people of colour in their daily lives doing everyday things. This gentleman is a mask maker and was looking for a Halowe’en project and was inspired by the recent influx of stories about white women behaving badly aka “Karens”. He gave the masks a blond bob cut, which is according to him a signature Karen haircut. His tag line on his social media page for the masks was “Scare all ur friends with ur big hair and narrow mind.” The masks were selling for $180 USD a pop and have now sold out. He had to take down his page on Etsy because he received more orders than he could fulfill, but he has every intention of putting it back up once he fulfills the current requests.

There is so much wrong with this and so much that needs to be addressed that it feels a bit overwhelming, but I’m going to do my best to take a stab at explaining why this is so problematic for white women. Here is another shining example of white supremacy and the patriarchy striking again and demoralizing women to make money.You have a white man who thought it would be a great idea to profit off of the pain of Black people being terrorized by some white women who call the police on them for any and everything. This man never thought or cared clearly about what message he is perpetuating in sending about these types of women who engage in this behaviour. He thought it was funny to laugh at other people’s pain and trauma and make money off of it to boot. In his interview with Good Morning America (because you know, of course the media gave him air time), he said the “Karen” label shouldn’t be reserved for privileged white women and that it is a label that is transcendent of all gender and size; She is just a modern-day tyrant. Anybody can be a Karen.

No. Not they cannot. White women are the only “Karen’s” that exist. This is one of many problems with white supremacy and patriarchy. It is the idea that a white cisgender man can tell anyone, including white women, who and what they are, how things should affect them and what things really mean. This is such a pervasive problem within the Caucasian community and it permeates throughout their interactions with others, primarily people of colour. The other issue is the idea that “anyone can be a Karen” yet he specifically referred to a Karen as a “she,” which implies that only women can be Karens, and since the mask is of a white woman with blond hair, it is obvious who this is targeted at. Here’s the problem with this. The past few encounters of white women terrorizing Black people have not all been blonds with bob cuts. Some were brunettes or dark coloured hair women. Some had longer hair, some shoulder length. Some looked like hedge fund managers and some looked like soccer moms. The idea that there is a “look” or a “type” of Karen continues to feed into the disillusionment that the majority of white people have that this is a small problem, it’s only “a few bad apples,” and so on and so forth. White people as a whole continuously tell POC and Black people specifically that what we are experiencing at the hands of these Karens and Chads are not reflective of everyone, just a few ignorant people. This again is not true. White women have been calling the police on Black people for ages. Almost every single Black person I know has had an encounter at least once in their life where either they or someone they knew had police called on them for nothing other than living while Black. So the idea that this is not happening as widespread as we think it is is a fallacy and a part of the gaslighting techniques that white men are so good at employing. Karen’s are not tyrants; they are terrorists. There is a difference. White men are not called Karens. We call them Chads and they are a whole different breed of people. This man is a Chad. He is a white privileged entitled individual who thinks that his assessment of the world is the only correct one and if you have a problem with his hurtful and offensive behaviour, then you are the issue, not him or his actions. He ended his interview with GMA by saying when asked about people who might be offended by the mask, “Just take it for what it is; a funny Hallowe’en mask. I’m not here to ruin anybody’s day. I’m just trying to make people laugh.”

Here’s the thing, sir. You don’t get to tell other people what they can be offended about. You don't get to tell people that their feelings and experiences don’t matter simply because you didn’t mean it in that way. You took something that literally gets Black people killed everyday and made a joke about it as if it were funny. What’s more, you profited off of encouraging the negative stereotypes of some white women. You took your simplistic experiences of “Karens in the wild” as you put it and tried to make an equal comparison of white women behaving badly in whatever limited interactions you have with them and them calling the police on Black people knowing they most likely would get the result of us being killed. You then put warts on her face on your masks to highlight her ugliness and vileness. And in the end, you dismissed anyone who didn’t find it funny along with you as being too uptight and not understanding dark comedy. The problem is not that we as the Black community do not understand dark comedy; it’s that you're not funny. The things that you joke about are not funny. I don’t think its funny to laugh about my community being murdered because some white women don’t like us. I don’t think it’s funny for you to tear white women down and stereotype them with experiences that you have zero understanding of. For you to laugh at the pain of the Black community and make money off of it is sickening. This is white supremacy and patriarchy at its absolute finest. Zero regard or care for anyone that is not a white male. Zero empathy or compassion for people who do not look like you. Zero morals around making money off of the deaths and pain of BIPOC. But you get 15 minutes of fame on Good Morning America to talk about your hideous masks and unconscious misogyny.

The fact that I as a Black woman am sitting here writing an article defending white women against their own when most of them would never return this courtesy to me is the bullshit that Black people are talking about. We don’t see white woman in droves speaking up for women of colour or advocating for them in any way shape or form. What we usually see are white women hiding behind their limited protection of whiteness. Some of them would rather stay silent than join other women and people of colour in taking down the patriarchy and dismantling white supremacy. Because on some level, they profit from it. Racist white men turn woke white men and women into traitors whenever they speak up about issues they don’t agree with within the Caucasian community. They are attacked verbally and sometimes physically, are threatened and in most cases, excommunicated from their communities simply for standing in solidarity on social justice issues. I’ve witnessed the hatefulness of racist white people towards their own. I’ve watched white men interrupt and shut white women down who were simply speaking their truth. So as a human being, I can understand and have compassion for white women who choose not to speak up because of fear. However, as a Black woman, I have zero tolerance for it. So while I will never be okay with a white man unprovokingly tearing down a white woman, I also believe in holding people accountable for their actions.

These masks are hateful. They do not help our society heal, grow or move forward together. They are another reminder of the long road ahead of us we have in defeating racism and sexism. Shaming people and tearing them down because it doesn’t personally affect you achieves absolutely nothing. This man came from a white woman. On some level, he needs to respect them as they are his mother, aunties, sisters, etc. I also want to quickly dash any thoughts that the Black community condones this type of behaviour. We do not. White people always think we will enjoy things like this because they think we are like them. We are not. We do not take pleasure as a whole community in seeing law enforcement officers attacked or killed. We do not take pleasure in seeing military service people die or be homeless. We do not find joy or humour in racist acts that white people do against other white people that they think we will applaud. We will not. We are not like you. We don’t think like you and we are not hateful like some of you are. Our response to you is just that. A response from 401 years ago . The animosity some of you see and feel from my community didn’t just happen out of nowhere for no reason. It’s there because your ancestors enslaved mine for capitalism and white supremacy. Please stop drawing false comparisons and do your research and learn the history of your ancestors. And white women, please talk to your men. You both collectively have some serious healing work to do.

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