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Call me Honey

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

As I mentioned in my introduction, my name is Honey. What I didn't say is that Honey is my new name. While I've had an unfortunate number of different last names over the years, up until May of this year, my first name was Karan (sic). I had been I never really loved the name Karan, although–save for a few preadolescent years of pining for personalized pencils– I did prefer the unique spelling that my mom chose, inspired by her college roommate. But, I didn't like it enough to suffer through years of listening to progressive, white men using Karen to stereotype white women whilst avoiding any real kind of introspection about their own privilege.

I tried not to harp too much on the appropriation of "Karen" to represent all that is wrong with white women in our white supremacist, patriarchal culture: the conversation is an important one to have and far be it from me to police the words we use while we're having it. But, I can't help but believe that the pervasiveness of the "Karen" meme leads to an oversimplification of how deeply ingrained racism is in our culture and how insidious it is within many of us as individuals. It's easy to see a video of an hysterical white woman calling the cops on a Black person who is simply existing near her and understand that it's Karenesque behavior, but does that then deter us from looking more closely at our own inherent bias, and at our own is unconscious racism? It seems too easy to think of "Karen" as someone other than ourselves, without looking for the Karenness within.

Also, I think the Karen stereotype is ageist, but perhaps that's another conversation altogether.

I say all of this as someone who struggles to unlearn, to learn, and to know and do better. I am utterly flawed, as we all are. I'm imperfect, but try to extend compassion to myself. What I am definitely not interested in is being called by a name that, unfairly or not, has become associated with ugliness, entitlement, and pain. However, I should say here, that I have always been able to get my customer service needs met to my satisfaction. Luckily, that usually happened by asking kindly, yet firmly, for what I wanted, but I'd be lying if I said I've never asked to "speak to the manager."

Anyway, I had half-jokingly started to refer to myself as Honey a couple of years prior to the true peak of the "Karen" phenomenon. I had fallen madly in love, gotten married, moved to the country, begun baking apple pies all the time, and was generally yearning for more softness, more compassion, and more gentleness– in my life, and in myself. I ordered a vanity plate with the full name, "Honey May," (before realizing I wasn't really a vanity plate type of girl). For my birthday, my neighbors gave me a personalized apron and pillow with the name embroidered on them in pink–my favorite color. And, it all just felt... good. And, kind. And, sweet.

In today's world, there are many who might criticize someone for seeking goodness, kindness, and sweetness, and I understand why. Who am I to expect these qualities in my life when there are so many people whom aren't even treated with basic respect? Who have to fight for their human rights–who are subjected to so much pain and who are constantly pushed to the margins of society? People who literally have to fight for their lives? I get that argument. But, much like I believe that we can and should all be living with abundance, I have to believe that there can be respite from anger and outrage while we continue to work for equality, fairness, and justice for ALL of us.

For me, becoming Honey has allowed me to reconnect with my true sense of self: joyful, playful, loving, compassionate, sweet, but also someone who, in the best ways (and with a nod to the Honey Badger) doesn't give a f*ck.

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