Can we stop hating on Katherine Heigl?

In an interview for The Meredith Vieira Show which aired this past Monday, Katherine Heigl was asked what she thought about her reputation for being “rude.” Heigl, who stars in the new TV drama, State of Affairs, has accumulated a ton of accusations about how she’s hard to work with, and most notably, how she’s “bitchy.” Since most of us have never met Heigl (I’m assuming), why are we so quick to jump to the conclusion that she’s a bitch? 

To answer the question about her supposed rudeness, Heigl responded, “I know I’m not. . .I like my job. I will continue to stand up for myself and I’m never going to stop standing up for my right to be heard, my right to be treated respectfully and professionally in return, my right to draw boundaries. I am a strong woman and I’m not going to apologize for that and I’m not going to on behalf of my daughters —and I’m not going to on behalf  of all you sitting in the audience.”

She added, “We should all have the basic human right to say, ‘Hey, no, I’m sorry, I’m not comfortable with that. I don’t like that. This is not OK for me’ without it making me…I can’t say the word. A B-Word.” 

Heigl’s response brilliantly and honestly sums up the problem with calling assertive women “bitchy.” No, women who are self-assured, firm, and have no issues with disagreeing or vocalizing their opinion are not bitches. They’re not rude. Women who stand up for their beliefs (even if this might make them seem “aggressive”) are powerful, and should be respected. There’s inherent, and undeniable sexism that goes into calling a successful, strong woman a “bitch.” Futhermore, it’s a total double-standard.

Male actors like Christian Bale, Bruce Willis, Steven Seagal, and Wesley Snipes are all known for how difficult they are to work with on set. Bale was caught reaming out the director of photography for Terminator: Salvation because he interrupted Bale, and Seagal reportedly even kicked a co-star. But we don’t have nearly as many articles and interviews that portray these men as “assholes,” or “dicks.”

Arguably, Hollywood turned its back on Heigl after several of her films bombed hard. One For the Money was painful to watch, and The Big Wedding was a disaster. While Heigl is a talented actress, she’s been cast in some expected, unlikable roles and unlikable movies. But that doesn’t really explain our disdain for her, because we clearly love and have loved celebrities even when their movies flop (Chloe Moretz in If I Stay, Jennifer Aniston in Horrible Bosses 2, etc). And yes, Heigl has been described by actors and directors (including TV Queen Shonda Rhimes) that she’s “hard to work with,” but how does that affect us?

The short answer: It doesn’t. Like, at all. I feel like we just latch on to a label and go with it, and in Heigl’s case, it’s “bitch.” But we need to let go of this name-calling once and for all, because ganging up on a female celebrity is one huge step backwards for feminism and female unity. We should be supporting each other —not calling one another “bitches.”

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