At the end of the day, “cancel culture” is a term full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It’s certainly not about free speech: After all, an arrested journalist is never referred to as “canceled” nor is a woman who has been frozen out of an industry after complaining about sexual harassment. “Canceled” is a label we all understand to mean a powerful person who’s been held to account. It’s a term meant to re-center sympathy on those who already have privilege and influence — a convenient tool to maintain the status quo.

Jessica Valenti cancellations.