The Existential Expert on the angst of literally being a ‘Karen’ … and when someone’s fly’s undone

The Existential Expert responds to your questions. Photo: Pixabay/LEEROY Agency.

This week our intrepid advice column bravely wades into the tempestuous socio-political waters of having the name ‘Karen’ – and how to tell someone about their wardrobe malfunction.

Q: Dear EE, 

My name is Karen,

Obviously people with that name are copping a bit of flak, unfairly sometimes. In my case, I consider myself a reasonable and good person – but I’m starting to have trouble complaining about things or standing up for myself, in situations where I should. Any advice?

Karen, via email

EE: Dear Karen, 

Our sympathies to you – but it is an objectively lovely name, so also congrats. We recommend you take it back and own it – and start raising your voice, by judiciously complaining. 

The whole ‘Karen’ thing as a substitute for middle-aged petty grievance has been played out anyway (in the same way as ‘OK Boomer’). 

Not only is it boring, but there’s more than a whiff of misogyny about it. A lot of women labelled ‘Karens’ have probably spent their lives being belittled, sidelined and generally ignored. 

That said, we also acknowledge that the name’s also been applied ironically, of course, to people with really extreme, prejudiced and obnoxious ideas. 

Hence our advice that you, the Good Karen, choose carefully what sort of complaints you make.

Complain about things that really matter: climate change, rising sea levels, government hypocrisy and so on. Become the Karen that we need. 


Q: Hola EE, 

A delivery guy who delivered me some food recently turned up at my place with his fly undone. But I was worried about telling him because I didn’t want him to think I was staring at his groin and I also thought I should tell him because he seemed like a okay guy and deserved to know. I also sort of wondered why his fly was open while he was handling food. In the end I didn’t say anything. What is the best way to tell someone about a wardrobe malfunction? 

Yours sincerely, 

Bruna, via email

EE: Dear Bruna, 

Clearly this is a sensitive issue, in a number of ways.

Let’s assume this is an accidental exposure – rather than, say, the behaviour of a Catholic priest or the captain of the Australian Men’s Cricket Team.

The whole thing seems to hinge on fear of embarrassment. His, yours, ours. Shame continues to inform most human behaviour – well, unless you’re Eddie Obeid. 

Your best policy is always complete honesty and clarity. You could perhaps throw in a joke to lighten the moment – feel free to workshop something like: “Are those dumplings free of charge?” or “I didn’t order the meatballs with the pho.” 

If you were him – and your goodie bag was wide open – wouldn’t you want to be told in case something fell out? If the only thing stopping you from doing anything is minor awkwardness, then it’s best to overcome that. It’ll make you feel better and earn you major karmic brownie points.  

All the best. 

Can’t tell a fella that his bits are showing? We call bull. Image: Stux/Pixabay.

Q: Dear Expert,

Why don’t you just fuck off?

Alex, via email

EE: Thanks Alex for your message. 

At first glance, your question is a little opaque. But, on consideration, perhaps it’s one of the more profound questions. Why, indeed, don’t we “fuck off”? 

But where? And how? What is it that tethers us to this time, this space, this now? 

Are we indeed trapped within these corporeal vessels? Or are we merely peeping through a window to a narrow fraction of the reality in which we exist, our perceptions limited by our bodily senses? Perception that prevents us from truly and existentially “fucking off”? 

All I can say, in our case, is that our choice not to “fuck off” is mainly due to the proximity of a high quality Thai restaurant in the area. 

Alex, this sort of self-reflection can have remarkable benefits. So we recommend you too should ask yourself, “Why don’t I fuck off?” 

Let us know how you go! 

A panacea for uncertain times, The Existential Expert is a forum where the Sentinel will address the essential questions, you – our readers – have posed. If you have a conundrum, whether it’s spiritual, philosophical or just something that makes you break out in a rash, email us at: – or tweet or DM us @sydney_sentinel. New columns are published regularly on Sundays – and you can check out previous ones here!

Disclaimer: The advice provided in this column is no substitute for professional advice and should not be treated as such.