Here are 6 women who were “canceled” for reasons that are, in retrospect, loaded with misogyny and sexism.
And since I know we all have different definitions of “canceled,” in this context, I’m using it to describe a situation where a celebrity faced intense public backlash that caused them to retreat from the public eye and/or take a substantial hit to their career, even if they were eventually able to recover.
The Chicks — formerly known as the Dixie Chicks — spoke out against then-president George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The country went absolutely ballistic over three young women criticizing the president. They were called names like "Dixie Sluts" and "Saddam's Angels" and were famously told to "shut up and sing." Their CDs were burned, and their songs were taken off the airwaves. All of this for making statements about the Iraq War that, just a few years later, most Americans would actually come to agree with. They're on the right side of history, and they deserved so much better.
Justin Timberlake famously exposed Janet Jackson's nipple during their 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance. The backlash was intense, and it was directed almost entirely at Janet. Justin was easily able to move on with his career and even got a second chance to perform at the Super Bowl in 2018. Janet has yet to be invited back, and the fallout from the incident was much more damaging to her career.
Whether you loved or hated that infamous Donald Trump photo, you can't deny that Kathy Griffin suffered consequences for it that no male entertainer would face. In fact, three months before Kathy's photo shoot, Snoop Dogg dropped a music video in which he shoots a clown version of Trump. People understood that it was political commentary, not an actual threat of violence. When Kathy did it, she lost every single one of her jobs and was put on a no-fly list.
Lindsay Lohan has been endlessly mocked on late-night TV for her struggle with addiction and her attempts to seek help. In a recently resurfaced interview, David Letterman asks her, "Aren't you supposed to be in rehab now?" It's hard to imagine that question being posed to famous men who've sought treatment, like Jon Hamm and Ben Affleck. Both of those men continue to act today — Lindsay's acting career has stalled.
Sinead O'Connor tore up a photo of the pope during her Saturday Night Live performance in 1992 to bring awareness to the systemic child sexual abuse happening behind closed doors in the Catholic Church. People dismissed her as crazy, and her career came to a screeching halt. The next week on SNL, host Joe Pesci said he "would have given her such a smack" if he could. Of course, a decade later, the world would come to learn that Sinead was 100% right. How many more children were victimized because she wasn't believed?
In 1984, Vanessa Williams was the first Black woman to become Miss America. But she quickly became the center of controversy after Penthouse published nude photos that she'd posed for years prior. Vanessa said that the photographer promised her she would not be identifiable in the photos and that he would never release the images to the public. Both turned out to be lies. Vanessa was clearly the victim in all this, but she was shamed by the public until she gave up her crown.
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