snow flake
Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

Karen. Snowflake. Disparaging Names Do Not Promote Unity. Respect Promotes Unity.

Several articles were posted at BoardingArea earlier today, Tuesday, January 26, 2021 which used the name Karen in their headlines to describe an incident which occurred aboard an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines pertaining to a woman who refused to get up out of her seat when it was time for the people who were seated in her row to leave the airplane.

Karen. Snowflake. Disparaging Names Do Not Promote Unity. Respect Promotes Unity.

Although the message and video — which was posted on Twitter — did not mention the name Karen to describe the woman, the term was apparently rampant throughout social media to describe the seated woman in question.

As passengers patiently waited, a member of the flight crew who is not shown in the video asks the woman, “Ma’am. I’m right here. Are you going to get off the aircraft — or are you going to sit there and scream? I’m just askin’.” After the seated woman does not answer the flight attendant, another woman — who is standing in the aisle and waiting for her to leave her seat and the airplane — emphasized, “I got to pee! I got to get off of here!” Again, the seated woman did not answer. “Ma’am, I’m tryin’ to…”

After the woman still refused to respond, the woman who was standing in the aisle started to walk past her row so that she could leave the airplane. The seated woman suddenly leaned forward, screamed hysterically, and appeared to reach out with her arm in an attempt to stop the woman from walking past her row.

“Ma’am! Ma’am!!! MA’AM!!!” the member of the flight crew shouted at the seated woman. “I’m watching YOU! That’s her turn!”

“You go out of here”, the seated woman seemed to respond as she gestured with her finger — as if ordering the flight attendant to leave.

“Excuse me!” exclaimed the flight attendant as she lowered her mask down to her chin before ordering the seated woman to get up and leave the aircraft. “I work here, ma’am!!!”

The seated woman obeyed the command as she stood up to walk down the aisle and exit the airplane.


Initially a derogatory term to describe women who seem to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal, Karen is increasingly being used to describe middle-aged white women who use their privilege to demand their own way.

I am certainly not defending the actions of the seated woman; but I have read the articles in question — and frankly, I wondered what exactly was so newsworthy about this incident and its video. I wondered why some of the writers chose to emphasize that the seated woman was white and the standing woman was black. I wondered why some of the writers decided to apply unfounded assumptions as to what the people who were involved in the video were doing or thinking.

Most of all, I wondered why they chose to use the term Karen — or any term whose sole purpose is to demean another person in a nasty, mean, and hurtful manner — in their articles at all. Was it used to sensationalize their articles to gain more views and clicks?

To me, using such pejorative terms as Karen and snowflake and other disrespectful nomenclature to mockingly describe a person in a rude manner contributes to the divisive nature which the United States is currently experiencing. I cannot think of one example in which using the term Karen is actually helpful or beneficial to the advancement of society in general…

…and for anyone in the media who has an audience to use such deprecatory terminology is irresponsible at best.

People are looking to Joseph Biden to help heal the country towards unity. I personally believe that unity and respect towards fellow human beings starts with you and me — not necessarily the president of the United States or any other world leader. Disagreement does not have to automatically mean division, as we can respectfully disagree with each other and learn from differing points of view…

…but simply calling someone a Karen or a snowflake or some other vile terminology — regardless of what that person did — is inexcusable, unacceptable, puerile, and has no place in a civil society. We are better than that. Instead of lowering ourselves to the lowest common denominator, leading by example is taking the higher road towards increasing respect for one another.

Finally, I think about my friend Karen Cantu — who was also known as KLC on FlyerTalk and passed away back in 2012 — and although she was a nice person who is sorely missed, I am glad she did not live to see her name reduced to such vitriol in recent years. She definitely would not have deserved that thoughtless moniker.

The only snowflakes which matter to me are of the frozen precipitation kind. Photograph ©2020 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Brian,
    You’re just as much to blame. Its been a week since big bad orange man has left……and you’re all still at it.

  2. I fail to see why we, as a population, continue to support the senseless recording or filming of one another for the sole purpose of ridicule on social media. What kind of ethical person does this?!?!

    The behavior of the seated women is obviously unacceptable. In her defense, she clearly appears to be suffering from an extreme anxiety or panic disorder. Instead of responding to the ill passenger in a calm way to diffuse the situation, the flight attendant literally unmasks and literally screams in her face. That is most unacceptable.

    For goodness sake, show some empathy people!

    1. The thought of her experiencing something which may have been beyond her control at that moment did not even enter my mind, NB_ga.

      If you are correct, then the situation only becomes that much more deplorable…

  3. Interesting how Biden is supposedly promoting unity while still blaming Trump supporters for this “world is falling” protest on Jan 6th. BTW – where was this “unity” stance prior to him getting elected? Hogwash – its all about power. Either “unite” or you are the enemy of the state. Right?

    Maybe Biden and the Crats need to stop treating Trump voters like they’re blind to what the Crats are up to and stop blaming them for the woes they created (like riots, burned buildings, senseless deaths, and closed business due to irrational fear-mongering of Covid).

    We’re on to you – and your disgusting cancel culture

    1. I have been espousing respect for one another for years, John L — regardless of race, politics, nationality, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, and even perceived class in society or whoever is president of the United States at the time.

      Here is one of countless articles as an example:

      As far as politics go, I think that both sides are disgusting and need to be purged.

  4. Sigh. And I really like this blog because of all the good Hilton tips…

    The idea behind this trend is that these woman are being called out and shamed publicly, just as they are making a spectacle of themselves publicly. One of the underlying issues of racial discourse in this country is that things are said, and done, without someone being called on it. Suddenly, white women are being called on for their terrible behavior (not all white women, of course), and we should say nothing in the name of “unity.”?

    Yeah, no.

    Karen it is.

    1. Don’t worry, footballfan412 — the good Hilton tips will still keep on coming. Thank you for your comment.

      As pointed out by NB_ga earlier, this may not simply be a case of terrible behavior, as the woman could have been suffering from a panic attack or some other malady. I am not a doctor; so I cannot confirm a diagnosis…

      …but imagine if you or I suffered from something out of our control — even for a moment — aboard an airplane and not only be yelled at, but have numerous articles and people shaming us and calling us names instead of giving the benefit of the doubt and finding out what really happened. I know I would not like that — and I would probably be mortified.

      You have been reading The Gate; and I thank you for that; but can you recall any article that I have written in which I called anyone any disparaging name — including Karen — and especially in a headline?

      All I am trying to do is set an example and treat other people with respect — no matter who they are, as I replied to John L.

  5. This reminds me of a former employer I had, who stressed that nobody should use “pejoratives” amongst coworkers. While well-intended, it created a moral hazard where everyone could act as detestable as they pleased (as long as they didn’t use pejoratives) and not face consequences. It created a culture of smooth talking liars, where there was no actual respect but only superficial niceties. A healthy culture requires shame, when justified.

    1. I completely agree with you that a healthy culture requires shame, Pat, when justified…

      …but if people were truly being as detestable as they pleased as long as they did not use pejoratives, then I would argue that either that former employer was not managing his or her staff properly; or that some members of that staff had no business working there if they could not conduct business in a professional and respectful manner. I obviously do not have enough information pertaining to the situation which you described to reach an informed conclusion.

      I believe that the use of pejoratives — especially when flagrant — serves little to no constructive purpose in a professional environment or a civil society.

      As a certified managerial coach, I do have some expertise and experience in this area…

  6. I agree with your comments. To many, name-calling has become this childish norm. Using the term Karen is a partly racist ideal as an example. I see names thrown around on all sides of the spectrum. I hear or read names that people who share my opinion on politics use toward the other side that are embarrassing and take away credibility at the minimum. I see racist names being used by racist towards whites, blacks, etc. Both sides are guilty of this. I think we should be more mature at a minimum. I’m not sure that many of our current politicians are capable of improving unity. We should stop looking at them like religious leaders that they are not. We can help this situation ourselves by our own actions.

    1. Exactly, DaninMCI — especially the parts about the potential loss of credibility and helping the situation by our own actions, as that is where it all starts.

      Thank you.

  7. Thank you Brian for a well written post (not easy to do these days as many are looking for anything, a single word they can pounce on, to spread hate).

    It’s very frustrating to address these types of things and sometimes feels like chipping away at an iceberg. But I believe we must continue to do two things:

    1) Can’t be silent, must talk about this as you have done superbly in your post
    2) Must show the haters that you can disagree and still be respectful, don’t do what the haters want and get into a pissing contest. Again your post did this very well.

    Keep up the good work, and thanks!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!