This is a somewhat comprehensive article that fails to explore in detail why a meme like Karen exists.
White women have privilege that NO OTHER WOMAN on planet Earth has. This has been true for about 500 years, and it has been true worldwide. It is true to this present moment, when white women are still benefiting from affirmative action policies meant for Black people and are still benefiting routinely from white supremacy.
Some of them have used--and some still use--that power against other people. Again, this is power that NO OTHER DEMOGRAPHIC of women has: NO OTHER WOMAN HAS WHITE PRIVILEGE. Chiefly, this is used to most dangerous effect against Black men, sometimes jeopardizing their lives.
But white women also capitalize on their white femininity in other ways. They do this by maintaining a 'victim' stance that centers the way in which they are victims and distracts from the way in which they have massive privilege in the form of whiteness. This is strategic, whether conscious or not, and white women have a responsibility to be aware of this strategy. When they focus on their victimization, it distracts from their privilege. This allows them to pull resources in their direction, which is why others have become --and continue to become--frustrated. This action--white women taking a victim stance when they are in fact privileged--is the main source of the Karen meme. The Karen meme calls them out: it says 'we know you aren't the victim and that your behavior only reinforces your power. It's time to admit your power and how it damages the rest of us."
This negotiation of power through damsel-in-distress 'victim' stance is so ingrained with white women that when you bring up antiracism, many of them actually start to cry. Yes, that's right: upon hearing that they are NOT victims, they are also WHITE people with massive unearned advantage JUST LIKE WHITE MEN, they actually start to CRY. Think about how ingrained one's own sense of victimization must be that at the first sign of acknowledging privilege, the same scene is replayed: the white woman knows that if she cries, she will garner pity and won't have to face the fact of her massive privilege.
This form of power is leveraged all the time by white women. Of note, whether or not they are well meaning or aware should not be the concern of POCs: we are interested in the impact to us, not in her intent, which once again re-centers her and erases POCs.
White women have an advantage in publishing, where they dominate MORE than white men dominate in some Fortune 500 studies. Despite this, when they get published, they call it 'achievement' and 'merit' while simultaneously criticizing white men for their unearned privilege. Stop, for a moment, and think about how incredibly hypocritical it is for these women to accept the 'prize' they received due to their whiteness and then turn and criticize white men for doing the same.
I doubt many people think white women deserve this criticism more than white men. Rather, white men do not revert to that white woman victim stance when faced with uncomfortable realities. They may get angry or defensive, but these methods are easy to call out and don't have the underhanded, deceptive power of white woman 'victimization.' We call white male Karens/Beckies: Ken/Brad. When we call them out, though, they do not have a ready-made centuries-long damsel in distress model to follow. Their behavior is despicable, but again, they're easier to call out due to the fact that they aren't leveraging victimhood.
The Karen meme is a collective balancing mechanism, a form of homeostasis. People of color, generally speaking, are tired of being bullied by white people, whether male or female. That's the bottom line. Black men are tired of being targets and worrying about surviving a walk through Central Park; women of color are tired of producing more value in professional settings while watching our promotions go to white PEOPLE, women included, unearned; POC trans people are tired of conservative white women lobbying to keep them 'othered.' On an anecdotal basis, I have a (WOC) friend who is a doctor, and she tells me that the white women prioritize their lesser complaints as more important than others and continually request more time than any other demographic of women she sees. They're always the ones most hurt, most tired, most 'deserving' of that extra time.
To some extent, this article feeds into that sense of white woman victimization. I would suggest, instead, that white women centralize their privilege: in all arena, when they feel tempted to pull out that victim card, be aware of privilege FIRST. Ask who are the real victims in a white supremacist society. I suggest that the first thought white women have should be about how they feel when they think about white men and oppression. If they don't like that boot on their necks, then they should think about how it feels on our necks when that's where they put theirs. Another friend who is a writer tells me she is tired of seeing mediocre white women like Cummins write crappy books about POCs and then get the publication, the biggest advances, etc. The saddest part is that, instead of acknowledging the outside forces that gift these things, white women immediately assume an achievement on their part that never happened.
As time passes, more and more people are perceiving white women as more similar to white men and less similar to other women. You can see this when you look at rates of women attending marches: millions in 2016, with a diverse leadership, dropped to thousands and even hundreds in some places once that diverse leadership was kicked out.
After discussing these things with several white women in my life, I've come to the conclusion that most white women will exert much more effort protecting their ignorance about their privilege and solidifying that victimization stance instead of asking themselves, as they should, how they are unjustly enriched at the expense of all genders of POCs when they refuse to acknowledge their white privilege.