Britney Spears’s fight for freedom


Wikipedia Commons

Britney Spears at one of her Toronto shows, pictured before her conservatorship.

On Feb. 5, 2021 the “Framing Britney Spears” documentary by the New York Times was released, making viewers take a step back to realize the complacent roles they played in Spears’ downfall. Prior to the documentary’s release, most portrayals of Spears showed her in a bad light, whether it be her relationships, her music, her mothering or something else. Now though, with new information available to the public, people are realizing that they were turning a blind eye to the real problems that occurred. The ancient myth of “female hysteria” within society and the unfair treatment of disabled people are just a few of the many harmful prejudices the documentary revealed.
When Spears had her “meltdown” in 2007, instead of being concerned about her mental health and trying to get her help or understand what she was going through, her assets and freedom were stripped away from her. People saw a woman in pain and afraid and decided to use it as proof that women are too emotional to have control over their own lives. Her father, Jamie Spears, was put in charge of her conservatorship, which gave him power over her finances and daily life. The new ‘Free Britney’ movement is a push towards freedom for Spears, who has been trapped in this situation for years and is only now starting to be heard. As a form of protest, Spears has decided that for as long as her father has control over her life, she will no longer work or perform.
The archaic belief that a woman is not stable enough to have her own assets is a misogynistic way of thinking that is unsettling to see in this day and age. Female hysteria was once diagnosed in women who showed too much emotion by sexist men who believed women were to sit back and stay calm. To see Spears, who was barely even an adult at the time go through everything she went through, how can people blame her for taking her frustrations out in the way she did if she wasn’t being listened to any other way? When a man like Justin Timberlake is praised for how he “got into Britney’s pants” and Spears herself is called “slutty” for those same actions, we can see just part of the reason Spears was forced to act a certain way her whole life; she tried to stay in a good light but no matter what she did it wasn’t enough. Misogynistic tendencies are culturally accepted and are praised in men at times and will continue this way unless people decide to notice and try to change.
Not only is this conservatorship a show of sexism, but it is also a portrayal of a lack of rights for the disabled in America. In order to get put into a conservatorship, a court must identify the person as someone with a disability of some kind: mental, age-related, developmental, etc. While this process is not inherently bad and sometimes necessary, it has become far too easy for disabled people to be stripped of their rights. Society often ignores that disabled people are people and that they should be entitled to individual lives and have rights like everyone else does. So rather than the argument becoming people being upset that Spears is being treated as if she is disabled, it’s also time to take a step back and ask why disabled people are treated this way.
Putting everything else aside, it is hard to say what is truly going on in Spear’s life from the outside, as she hasn’t commented too much on the subject. This past year, in an interview Jamie Spears said, “I love my daughter, but this is our business. It’s private.” At one point, he called those who believe Britney Spears is trapped in his control “conspiracy theorists” and said that “it’s no one else’s business.” Even Britney Spears herself took to Instagram recently and said, “Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens.”