#FreeBritney…and All Women.
We Deserve a Podcast: Pop culture is definitely, absolutely tied to gender justice so you should feel very fine indulging yourself any and all celebrity gossip, in fact you’ll be a better feminist if you do.
We are back—and notably a little different. Namely, I am without my hilarious, reality show-watching, partner who followed in the footsteps of reality TV OG, Kim Kardashian-West and went to law school. In better news, I’ve decided to expand We Deserve a Podcast to encompass all things pop culture because sometimes reality TV just isn’t enough.
If you’re like most people during this wild season of life, you’ve been very online and have probably seen activism behind the #FreeBritney movement. I finally watched the new documentary, The New York Times Presents Framing Britney Spears, and to put it lightly, I have some thoughts.
Stop! Sexualizing! Girls!
So much of Britney’s fame has been centered around her ability to be both hypersexual and childlike. It’s the age-old trope of all women popstars—we’ve seen it with Jessica Simpson, Christina Aguilera, and more recently, Billie Eilish. From adults inappropriately asking Britney if she had a boyfriend at 11 years old, questioning her body at 17 and interrogating her virginity status at 20, it’s clear the Princess of Pop was a victim of misogyny and oversexualization from the start. Women are constantly told they are either too sexy or not sexy enough. For girls of color, hypersexualization can start with elementary school dress codes. No one can win, and we need to stop.
While I was watching the documentary, I just kept thinking, ‘why does no one believe her?’. We’ve seen a reckoning of women who were written off at the heights of their careers and are now getting the chance to tell their side of the story from Paris Hilton bravely testifying about childhood abuse she suffered to Jessica Simpson peeling back the curtain on the ditzy persona she put on for protection (very similar to Paris). What about Britney? From her relationship with Justin Timberlake, to her current pleas for control of her own life, no one around her is willing to forsake their personal financial gain to even consider what Britney might want. Believing women goes beyond the #MeToo movement; it should be applied to women talking about a predatory paparazzi industry, concerned for their children’s well-being, and focusing on their mental health.
Smash the Hollywood Patriarchy.
What’s saddest about Britney’s story is that we’ve seen it all before from Hollywood to the Royal family. Justin Timberlake wreaked havoc on Janet Jackson’s career by oversexualizing her at the Super Bowl of all places. Justice for Janet and let’s cancel JT—JC Chasez was the real *NSYNC star. Princess Di wasn’t a pop princess but the People’s Princess with a life marred with accusations and ridicule for not quite being “pure” enough for The Crown but also somehow labeled as overly sexual during her divorce while her royal husband was having a public affair. A life cut too short by an insatiable paparazzi, the same paparazzi that drove Meghan and Harry away from the family. I refuse to believe The Crown is 100% fiction. There are probably countless young women being groomed and hypersexualized in the industry as we speak.
Indulging in pop culture comes with a responsibility to hold institutions like glossy magazines and celebrity news networks accountable. Because if we don’t, we’ll never learn from our mistakes.