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These 13 Famous Women Were "Canceled" For Reasons That Are Actually Pretty Sexist

Megan Fox, Kathy Griffin, Janet Jackson, the Chicks, and more.

The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears has lots of us reexamining the ways that famous women have been treated by the media and the public at large.

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Here are 13 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.

1. The Chicks

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The Chicks β€” formerly known as the Dixie Chicks β€” 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.

2. Janet Jackson

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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.

3. Kathy Griffin

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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.

4. Lindsay Lohan

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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 β€” Lindsay's acting career has stalled.

5. Sinead O'Connor

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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?

6. Vanessa Williams

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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.

7. Amanda Bynes

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Amanda Bynes said and did some disturbing things when she was in the throes of serious mental illness and heavy drug use. Instead of being seen by the general public as a person who needed help, she became the butt of a joke, paraded out in front of the world at her most vulnerable moment so she could be torn apart and called "crazy." It was really fucked up.

8. Monica Lewinsky

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Monica Lewinsky was publicly shamed and humiliated into hiding after her affair with Bill Clinton came to light in 1998. Meanwhile, Bill survived his impeachment trial and walked out of the situation relatively unscathed. A 22-year-old intern faced harsher consequences than the literal president of the United States. These days, Monica has been able to reclaim her narrative through her anti-bullying advocacy. You should absolutely check out her TED Talk if you haven't yet.

9. Megan Fox

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Megan Fox spoke up about the way she was treated on the set of Transformers, calling director Michael Bay "a nightmare to work with." In response, three crew members from Transformers called her "dumb as a rock," "trailer trash," and an "unfriendly bitch." Deadline ran their open letter with the headline, "Michael Bay's Crew Bitchslaps Megan Fox." She was fired from Transformers 3, and her career took a nosedive.

10. Kelly Marie Tran

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This one is more of an attempted cancellation by online trolls, but I think it's important to mention. Kelly Marie Tran became the target of a vicious campaign of harassment and abuse after she landed a role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The attacks, which mostly focused on her body and her Vietnamese heritage, became so rampant that Kelly was forced to delete her Instagram and retreat from the public eye for a while. She later wrote an op-ed about her experience for the New York Times, where she told her online abusers, "I am just getting started."

11. Michelle Wolf

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The comedian was the host of the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2018, and she was heavily criticized for a joke she made about Sarah Huckabee Sanders' habit of lying: "I actually really like Sarah; I think she's very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye." The joke was honestly pretty tame compared with what other WHCD hosts have done β€” Stephen Colbert was widely celebrated online for his brutal takedown of George W. Bush in 2006. But that one joke from Michelle Wolf had people bringing out their pitchforks, and celebrating when her talk show was canceled later that year.

12. Rebecca Black

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A 13-year-old girl recorded a song for other 13-year-old girls, and then grown-ass adults found it online and bullied her endlessly over it. Rebecca Black was taunted about her appearance and her voice, commenters wrote that she should kill herself, and she was told she'd never have a career in music. Again, she was 13 years old and her "crime" was that she recorded a song that people thought was bad. Rebecca has since opened up about the impact of those cyberbullies, saying that she was "terribly ashamed of herself and afraid of the world" and experienced depression.

13. Winona Ryder

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Winona Ryder was arrested for shoplifting in 2001 and became something of a punchline in the media. But the real story was actually a lot more complicated. Winona says that she was dealing with mental illness at the time and was taking excessive painkillers as prescribed by a doctor. The doctor eventually lost his license. The incident forced Winona to take a long hiatus from acting.

Which famous women do you think were canceled for sexist reasons? Share your own examples in the comments.

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