For 90’s brats and 2000’s babies, American pop star Britney Spears was an icon. She sang songs that were hip, wore cloths that were killer and dated all the hunky celebs. For many young girls, Brittany represented a strong female role model, who controlled her life and looked good doing it.
For others in the music industry and a barrage of angry parents, Spears represented a sex symbol, that was dominating the era of the boy band and encouraging young girls to feel comfortable in their own bodies.
“She did celebrate her own sexuality and there’s nothing wrong with that,” Said Anna Sump (’21), “She was still just a teenager and wasn’t asking to be put in the spotlight as a sex symbol. She also didn’t ask to be a role model, and she doesn’t owe anyone an apology for her actions and choices. If parents didn’t want their children to be influenced by her, then they shouldn’t have let them listen to her.”
Britney received a generous load of hate for even existing early on in her career. She was criticized by men for being promiscuous, shamed by woman for upsetting men, but above all else, she broke a glass ceiling in the entertainment industry- that would not be tolerated. The free Britney movement is not a series of unfortunate events, but rather decades worth of hatred placed on a young woman.
“Britney, like any adult, has the right to dress in a way that makes her feel confident,” Said Lainie Ettema (’23), “Modesty empowers some, promiscuity empowers others. Women should be in control of their bodies without being shamed by society.”
Beginning in the early 2000’s Britney made the grave mistake of falling for America’s golden boy with horrendous highlights, Justin Timberlake. Their relationship was a public affair, including their private lives. When the couple decided to break it off, a fury hate was directed at Spears.
Accused of adultery, Spears was heavily slut shamed. Becoming the symbol for “bad women” she was the center of criticism, all without hearing her side of the story. Timberlake profited off of this, making Britney the reason for his breakout career, and beloved heartbreak songs. He also profited off of her sex life, spreading rumors about her “bedroom activities”- which Spears denied fervently.
Her relationship with Timberlake marked only the beginning of her spiteful relationships, however, it is a key role into understanding her admittance into the psyche ward in 2007, and her years long battle for conservatorship over her own life. The Free Britney movement stems from her scrutinization from the media.
Britney was personified as a “bimbo” throughout her career, constantly looked down on and regarded as a child. Her producers refused to hear here ideas, the media berated her and the paparazzi were relentless. Her custody battle in 2007 was the proverbial nail in the coffin, that triggered her psychotic
break. Shaving her head and vandalizing a paparazzi’s car held grounds for the first draft of Britney’s conservatorship.
“The conservatorship is an abuse of power,” Said Ettema (’23), “Britney is a high functioning adult and there is no reason why extremely personal details of her life should be dictated by anyone but her. The conservatorship forces her into an endless cycle of abuse, which she is clearly suffering, but doesn’t have the freedom to get help.”
After Britney took time to mentally heal from the torture she was put through, her conservatorship remained. Fans took to social media with the hashtag #freebritney and protested.
“I think it’s [her conservatorship] ridiculous and awful, especially at this point in her life,” Said Sump (’21), “She should have a say in all things that pertain to her, but all of her rights to her own life were taken away. She no longer needs it [conservatorship], because she is capable of running her own life,”
Britney Spears still lives a life in ordinance to someone else. She is blamed for expressing herself, the clothing she wears, and even the criticism she faces. It isn’t a mystery that Britney has endured a harsh reality, and it is a hope for young, aspiring, women to not face such blatant sexism and hatred for prospering in a male dominated field.