As I watched the new documentary Framing Britney Spears, there’s a lot to be said about our flawed society and the standards for women. Fame or no fame, women have to deal with unfair expectations and disrespect just like Britney did. I wanted to shine some light on Britney’s experience and bring awareness to why society needs to change.
- Britney, a Product to Society
Throughout Britney Spears’s life, she was treated as a product for consumers of society. At age 10, she was asked if she had a boyfriend on television. “Of all the things that she could be asked about, because what else could we possibly talk to a woman or girl about? There’s so much more to her that everybody’s missing,” said Hayley Hill, Britney’s former stylist. Spears was constantly put on the spot for how she presented herself and what others thought of her. If she felt like she wanted to make her own decisions, society tried to make her pay for that later.
As younger girls began to idolize Britney Spears, many people saw it as a negative influence. These young girls idolized Britney because she was confident and did what she wanted, and that was exactly what these young girls loved about her. “I know she’s aiming for the little kids market or whatever. She needs to back off and put a pair of blue jeans on, no shoes, and just sing, you know?” said Michael, a by-stander giving his take on Britney Spears. From someone like Michael, his perspective is from the male gaze. From furious mothers, their worries come from what others will think of their daughters if they follow in Britney’s footsteps.
- The Male Gaze
The way some men look at women is not the same way many women look at women. Women typically look at each other and use emotions to dictate their opinion of them. Some men look at what’s on the surface…clothes, body, choice of words, etc. From many girls who love Britney Spears, she is confident, empowering, creative, free, and beautiful from the inside out. Those who dislike Britney Spears typically note the way that they feel she is too sexual, showing off, and overall a bad influence.
Britney Spears was given an unfair disadvantage by an outdated society that did not want to support women who didn’t fit the cookie cutters. To this day, women still have to deal with the harsh expectations put on them. From personal relationships to school or work, our gender affects the rules that are thrown at us. Spears was an idol for younger girls who wanted to be more progressive. Britney Spears was able to obtain big achievements in a society where “girls don’t sell.”
- Britney, the High School Sl*t
A question that always came up with Britney Spears and everyone else in her life was sex. Britney Spear’s sex life was the hot topic for a long time, and her entire life was filled with unwanted high school drama. She was constantly asked about her sex life during interviews. Justin Timberlake opened up about having sex with her publicly when they broke up, which caused even more hatred towards Britney. As stated in Framing Britney Spears, it was as if Timberlake was the quarterback and Spears was the high school sl*t.
Spears was in fact treated like one. She was the high school girl that everyone claimed to hate but wanted to know her business anyway. Many women feel the need to defend themselves publicly, and Spears couldn’t escape it. No one assumed that maybe she was the “good guy” here, and often times society takes one side before hearing out the other. Britney was silenced, and society had so much to say about her.
- Hungry for Britney
I strongly believe that if Britney Spears was given a fair shot at living her personal life in peace, she wouldn’t be where she is today. From her kids to her divorce and then her new boyfriend, the publicity made it harder for her to enjoy life. “I feel like I’m missing out,” said Spears. She was constantly thrown under the bus as an “unfit mother,” and she’s constantly having to explain and re-explain her personal life so society can give her a break (they don’t).
Spears said that her biggest wish was for the paparazzi to leave her alone, and yet they refused. Boundaries were crossed a long time ago. Britney Spears’s tipping point was something society was hungry and excited for. She was never set up for success, and the flawed society stepped in and ruined her. Caring for her mental health was never an option.
Although we still fight for a progressive future, we need to keep women like Britney Spears in mind. I’m glad The New York Times was able to shine some light on her truth, even though we don’t have the full truth yet. We want women’s rights, and Britney’s were robbed a long time ago. #FREEBRITNEY