I pass by the local middle school on my run route every morning. Yesterday, I ran by as they were doing some sort of drill outside. Several of the middle school males took a break from telling each other doody jokes and giving each other dutch ovens in order to call me a ‘Becky’. I spend my days doing all that I can to avoid social media and all things technological so I had to look it up. What is a ‘Becky’?
According to the Wikipedia, “a ‘Becky’ is a pejorative American slang term for a young white woman. The term has come to be associated with a “white girl who loves Starbucks and Uggs and is clueless about racial and social issues.”
Wow! That is a lot packed into a one-word insult hurled at a woman just minding her business and going about her life. Let’s unpack it, shall we?
Yes, I am both white and female. Those are each accidents of birth and there’s nothing I can do about either of them. Also, they are superficial accents that allude to nothing about me as a person aside from the fact that I have a higher risk of getting skin cancer and I am probably not a great parallel parker.
I do not like Starbucks. I do like the look of Uggs, but they’ve been out of my budget since they came out and I am too prideful to wear knockoffs. In fact, if one had looked a little closer, they would have seen that I was wearing a 25-year-old Reebok running jacket, an old maternity tank top (I like the long length) and a pair of Walmart shorts. I didn’t even buy the shorts at the classy Walmart in the area. I bought them at the Walmart that even the cops stay away from. And my shoes were barefoot runners. No ‘Becky’ would have been caught dead in my outfit.
As to being clueless about racial and social issues (aren’t racial issues a social issue?), it is nearly impossible to be clueless about social issues in this day and age in that they permeate every facet of life. I can’t buy a pack of gum without being bombarded by social issues. But even if it were possible to live clueless, how can you tell by looking at someone what they are clueless about?
There are many things that you can’t tell about me just by looking:
- Whether or not I am intimidated by poetry
- Whether or not my feet get hot easily
- Whether or not I own chickens
- Whether or not I’m trying to make myself enjoy opera
- Whether or not I am clueless about social issues
When did we become this society that sizes people up within seconds – and with only external information – and assigns them one of four names and, therefore, an identity? Some of those Chads, Kyles, Karens and Beckys out there might be much more complex people than given credit for. Well, most likely not the Karens and Kyles, but the point is, we shouldn’t underestimate people based on their exterior appearance.
How can we think we know everything about someone by a quick glance? Why do we condense a human being down to race, gender, coffee choice and footwear and think we know what their innermost thoughts are? How do we look at someone and even jump to conclusions about their race, gender coffee choice or footwear decisions? If we’ve learned anything in the past ten years, it’s that any and all of those descriptors are not as obvious as they once were.
And most befuddling of all, why can’t middle schoolers even make it through a fire drill without being obnoxious?
All that being said, I’d like to draw the reader’s attention to a very important word in the definition of a ‘Becky’ that I have here formatted in bold: a ‘Becky’ is a pejorative American slang term for a young white woman.
I’m pretty sure my age puts me into ‘Karen’ territory so I can’t say I’m 100% put out by the pejorative they chose to hurl at me. They may think I’m clueless, but they also thought I was young. Maybe those middle school boys were more astute than I first gave them credit for.